Arts

Alec Baldwin says he's having the time of his life — impersonating President-elect Donald Trump

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Actor Alec Baldwin has had a number of roles throughout his long career, but lately, he's been making a splash with a now-iconic character: President-elect Donald Trump.

Baldwin is quickly becoming the go-to voice for satire on the Trump presidency, with his impersonations of Trump on "Saturday Night Live." A longtime activist (just last week, The Takeaway spoke with him about his fight to shut down the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant just north of New York City), Baldwin appears to be having the time of his life poking fun at America’s next president. 

Baldwin says that the key to impersonating Trump (click on the ‘Listen’ button above to hear him get in character) is raising one eyebrow and laying on the president-elect’s unmistakable accent and dialect. 

“We always default to [using adjectives like] ‘fantastic,’ ‘amazing,’ ‘terrific,’’ Baldwin says. “He never comes up with anything stronger or clearer … He’s not a great thinker. He demonstrates that over and over again. It’s kind of harrowing, actually.”

Many have accused Hollywood entertainers of being out of touch with the views of everyday Americans, but Baldwin sees things differently. He argues that many performers, writers and directors “have a conscience which tells them, ‘I want to do well, but I want do good.’” He adds that the mainstream Republican Party has told many in the last several years, “Don’t worry so much about doing good, let’s get you to do well first.”

“The community of artists that I count myself among are a very caring people and, for the most part, a very informed people,” he says. “They wind up ending up on the side of something that is more about doing good as much as doing well.”

Though Baldwin has some fondness for political activism, he acknowledges that he didn’t raise his voice enough in recent years. 

“Once [President] Obama won, I was guilty, and this is also, I think, a sign of my age, as well, I sat there, and I went, ‘Well, our guy’s in — we’re good,’” he says. “I kind of backed off and wasn’t really that involved in that concern. I thought, ‘Obama’s got everything covered.’ It was a mistake.”

On the whole, Baldwin says that he is sorry to see Barack Obama leave office this week, even if he did make some mistakes as president. 

“I think he should’ve closed Guantanamo — as a symbol to the rest of the world about where we’re at,” he says. “But at the same time, I think Obama was just as elegant and as thoughtful and as gracious a person, and I think that counts for something because now we have somebody who’s like the villain in a WC Fields movie as the president of the United States.” 

Although Baldwin has a great deal of passion for a number of issues currently facing our society, he has no plans to seek political office.

“I wouldn’t ever run because I wouldn’t win because we live in these very, very strident times right now,” he says. “I would be the right wing’s poster boy — they would be salivating if I ran.” 

This story first aired as an interview on PRI's The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation.

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