NBC's Saturday Night Live is already making news and the series is still weeks away from its 46th season return to Studio 8H (and our screens) on October 3rd (kicking off the first of the month's five episodes). SNL guru Lorne Michaels revealed that not only would Alec Baldwin be returning as Donald Trump, but Maya Rudolph would be joining them as Kamala Harris (with Beck Bennett returning as Mike Pence) and Jim Carrey is set as Joe Biden. Yes, that Jim Carrey. In addition, we learned that the returning cast (no cast exits this season, a first in over ten seasons) will include three new feature cast members: Lauren Holt (The Filth), Punkie Johnson (Space Force), and Andrew Dismukes (Comedy Central's Colossal ClusterFest, New York Comedy Festival).
Speaking with Vulture earlier this week, Michaels explained how the casting of Carrey came about. "There was some interest on his part. And then we responded, obviously, positively. But it came down to discussions about what the take was. He and Colin Jost had a bunch of talks. He and I as well. He will give the part energy and strength, and … [Laughs.] Hopefully, it's funny," Michaels joked. As for the argument that the show is shifting towards "celebrity cameos" for the political impressions, Michaels says you only need to look at the history actors like Baldwin and Carrey have with SNL to know that this is more than just casting familiar faces.
"I honestly don't think of them as celebrity cameos. I think that's the sort of New York Times approach to thinking about things. Alec Baldwin's probably done the show 25 or 30 times. He's just part of an extended group in the same way that if Tina Fey has something meaningful to say on Update, we'd welcome her. It's the same way with Maya [as Kamala] — you saw what she brought to it. So, I don't think of it that way. Beck [Bennett] will be doing Pence because he does it brilliantly."
There are also other factors that need to be considered- especially with new COVID production procedures in place this season. "You're talking about candidates who are in their 70s. When you put someone 28 in that makeup, it just different. Obviously Woody [Harrelson] did Biden on the first show last season and did it brilliantly. Jason [Sudeikis] has done it in the past. Part of it also is whoever does it has to basically relocate to New York because of quarantine. So, there were a lot of factors involved in that. But I'm thrilled Jim's doing it," he explained.
While adding three new feature players to a cast that's already pretty sizeable might cause some to scratch their heads, Michaels sees it as bringing on new talent during a time when many of the main players will be splitting time this season between SNL and other projects. "All three of [the new cast members] are people with original voices and talent. They're bringing something that we now don't have. And also, Kate will be back for all these election shows. So many people had committed to doing projects in the summer, which then got moved. Aidy has been doing Shrill, and she'll be here for some shows and have to go back to that for others. Cecily is doing a project in Vancouver, but we'll green screen her for things," explained Michaels. "People will stay involved, but they may not physically be in the studio."
Saturday Night Live's 45th season included Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Michael Che, Pete Davidson, Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Colin Jost, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Melissa Villaseñor, and Bowen Yang. Che and Jost served as the series' head writers, with Bryan Tucker serving as senior writer. Not including specials and digital series, the program has won 72 Emmy Awards, the most for any show in television history. SNL also holds the title for the most nominated television show in Emmy history with 270 nominations (once again, not including specials and digital series).
The long-running sketch comedy and musical series is executive produced by Lorne Michaels, produced by Steve Higgins and Erik Kenward, and directed by Don Roy King. Ken Aymong serves as a supervising producer, with Lindsay Shookus, Erin Doyle, and Tom Broecker producing. The series is produced by SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video.