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Darrell Hammond Reflects on Losing His Donald Trump Gig on ‘SNL’: ‘I Just Started Crying’

The show's best-known impressionist was devastated.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Tina Fey and Amy Poehler" Episode 1692 -- Pictured: (l-r) Pete Davidson as Marco Rubio, Jay Pharoah as Dr. Ben Carson, and Darrell Hammond as Donald Trump during the "GOP Debate Cold Open" sketch on December 19, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)

Dana Edelson/NBC

Before Alec Baldwin, there was Darrell Hammond. The longtime “Saturday Night Live” cast member has been one of the show’s best-known impressionists for more than two decades, sending up the likes of Bill Clinton, Sean Connery, and yes, Donald Trump. Last September, however, he received word that he would no longer be impersonating the then–presidential candidate — and it broke him.

Hammond recalls the experience in a lengthy Washington Post profile, recalling how devastated he was with great candor. “I just started crying,” he says. “In front of everyone. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock, and I stayed in shock for a long time. Everything wiped out. The brand, me, what I do. Corporate appearances canceled. It was a hell of a shock, and all of it was apparent to me in one breath. That ends me.”

Making it worse was the fact that Lorne Michaels didn’t deliver the news personally; he delegated that task to producer Steve Higgins, an old friend of Hammond’s. On election night, he didn’t even watch the results — it was too painful a reminder of the opportunity he’d lost, so he put on “Game of Thrones” instead.

“I needed another force, on an acting level, to have the power that Trump was embodying then,” Michaels tells WaPo. “The Darrell Trump… it wasn’t the Trump that had gotten darker. It was the Trump from ‘The Apprentice.’” Read the full piece here.

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