In a Hollywood Reporter interview published Thursday, frequent Saturday Night Live guest star Alec Baldwin described his experience of impersonating President Donald Trump as "agony." Such a remark was bound to get a retort from Trump: As a self-proclaimed "counter-puncher," the president took to Twitter on Friday morning to lambast Baldwin. Trump said the real "agony" was to watch Baldwin, and called for the return of "funnier and far greater talent" Darrell Hammond.
Trump claimed in the same tweet that Baldwin's "dying mediocre career" had been rescued by the opportunity to impersonate Trump. An earlier, since-deleted tweet saw the president writing Baldwin's first name as "Alex" and misspelling several words. Otherwise, the two tweets were identical. They also went out in the early morning hours, when Trump has been known to let loose on Twitter.
The feud between President Trump and Alec Baldwin is not a new one. Ever since the actor began portraying Trump — most notably on Saturday Night Live — the two men have taken turns mocking one another. Baldwin initially signed up for the Trump-impersonation gig when he — along with a majority of the country — believed Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for president.
And according to Baldwin, the hours spent pretending to be Trump have not been enjoyable ones. Besides calling the experience "agony," Baldwin told The Hollywood Reporter, "We have to get rid of him [Trump]." The actor also suggested that just about anyone would be more qualified for the presidency than its current officeholder. "I could go out on the street, stand on any corner and tap 10 people on the shoulder. And all 10 of them, in all likelihood, would be more qualified — ethically, morally, intellectually and spiritually — than Trump."
Baldwin claimed he would vote for Mitt Romney if meant getting rid of Trump. Then he went down a path well-traveled by many Hollywood personalities over years past (and present) — floating the idea of leaving the country altogether if the politics don't pan out right. "If, God forbid, he wins again in 2020, I'm wondering can I host a game show in Spain," Baldwin said.
Trump has been criticizing Baldwin's performance for a while now. Besides claiming in March 2017 that SNL itself was part of the media "rigging the election," Trump described the "Baldwin situation" as "not good" in an interview with Fox News host Jesse Watters.
Baldwin is just one in a long, long line of individuals name-checked for criticism in Trump's Twitter feed. And given Baldwin's extremely public role in encouraging millions of SNL viewers to laugh at the president, it's perhaps a bit surprising that he isn't featured more regularly in POTUS tweets.
And the actor has lately been battling criticism from other corners, too. After the #MeToo movement ended the careers of dozens of high-profile Hollywood men accused of sexual harassment and abuse, Baldwin got involved in the controversy. There were several individuals who asked publicly why Woody Allen had not come under the same fire, including Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Allen who has long alleged he sexually abused her when she was 7 years old. (Investigations into those allegations resulted in no charges being filed against Allen, who also denies all allegations against him.) In response, Baldwin sent a tweet on Jan. 16 defending Allen, saying it had been "a privilege" to work with the director. Baldwin said he thinks Allen is innocent and asked, "Are we going to stay in the realm where it's just accusations and condemnations being played out in the press?" The actor said he wants to see legal action and legal conviction of those who are guilty.
Outside of intra-Hollywood drama, Baldwin can likely count on having continuing controversy with Trump. As long as he's on SNL impersonating the president, the actor will probably keep finding himself in the POTUS Twitter feed.