“Saturday Night Live” will be kicking off its 42nd season this weekend with host Margot Robbie, musical guest The Weeknd and a few new cast members, replacing departing stars Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah and Jon Rudnitsky — to say nothing of a recurring guest star who’ll be playing Donald Trump: frequent “SNL” host Alec Baldwin.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Michaels discusses how the Baldwin-as-Trump concept came to be.
“The idea came out of a conversation with Tina Fey at some point during the summer,” Michaels tells THR. “Then I mentioned it to Alec but he’d already committed himself to a movie and [he and wife Hilaria] were about to have their third child. There were a lot of obstacles in the way to working it out. But I just thought he’d be brilliant doing it and I thought he and Kate [McKinnon, who plays Hillary Clinton] would be a match… We were talking about who should do it. And she said, ‘Well, the person that should really play it is Alec.’ And I went, ‘Yeah!’ A light went on.”
Asked if he’s given any thought about long-range plans should Donald Trump win the election in November, Michaels says: “You so don’t understand my life. I’m just thinking right now about Saturday. Next week, [Oct. 8 host] Lin-Manuel Miranda will be sitting in the office and we’ll start again — so, no, we never go that far. There’s no long-range plans. There’s just, you know, Saturday.”
Michaels also discusses the decision to let go of long-time cast-members Killam and Pharoah, explaining that change is the reason the show is still on the air after 42 seasons.
“I think that the lifeblood of the show is change,” says Michaels. “I love Taran, I love Jay, I think they’re both super-talented. They’ve both been here six years. And if you don’t keep making changes you don’t change. You know? I can’t explain it any other way, because there’s no way of explaining it. Every now and then new voices come in — both in the writing staff and the cast.”
He adds: “Put it this way. Chevy Chase was there for a year-and-a-half. John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were there for four years. Jimmy Fallon was there for five years. Fred Armisen was I don’t know how many years. It’s whether or not they’re — I don’t know. There’s people’s lives involved here so I’m not really… There are decisions that you intuitively come to, that now we have to do something different, that’s all.”
The 42nd season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” airs Saturday at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT on Global; you can also watch full episodes online.