When season 42 of Saturday Night Live premieres this weekend, the show will be missing some familiar faces. Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah were released from their contracts earlier this year, a move that surprised both fans and the actors themselves. In a new interview with USA Today, SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels finally broke his silence on the matter.
“I think they were great, and they did wonderful work when they were with us,” Michaels said. “They served the show well, and are two people I really care about. Change is the lifeblood of the show; it always has been. And you have to keep bringing new people in. Hopefully it’s for the best. I’m not worried about either of them going on to success.”
Other changes include the addition of new cast members Mikey Day, Melissa Villaseñor, and Alex Moffat. Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin will take over the role of Donald Trump from Killam and Darrell Hammond. According to Michaels, the idea for the Trump switch came from Baldwin’s former 30 Rock co-star Tina Fey.
“She said, ‘You know who would be a great Trump is Alec!'” Michaels explained. “I talked to Alec, who was finishing a movie, he was getting ready to have a baby — it couldn’t have been worse timing. But, slowly, the idea grew on me. People on the show liked it, and I thought he’d be great with Kate [McKinnon].”
This weekend’s SNL season premiere is expected to begin with a recreation of a presidential debate between Baldwin’s Trump and McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton.