30 Stars Reveal How It Feels to Be Impersonated on SNL

From Justin Bieber to Barbara Walters, no one has been safe on Saturday Night Live. Read what the stars thought about seeing a version of themselves on the NBC show over the years.

By Zach Johnson, Billy Nilles Oct 03, 2020 2:00 PMTags
Related: Carole Baskin Could "Slap" Chloe Fineman Over "SNL" Impression

If you make it big enough in the worlds of entertainment, sports or politics, one thing is almost certain: Somebody will impersonate you on Saturday Night Live.

For some, it's a badge of honor. For others, it's a total nightmare.

And with NBC's long-running sketch comedy series set to return for season 46 on Saturday, Oct. 3, there's certainly going be plenty of famous folks with Twitter mentions and Google alerts going nuts come Sunday morning. The show's already teasing Jim Carrey as its latest Joe Biden impersonator, with the comedian planning to stick with the series at least through the November election.

The people featured below have at least one thing in common with Biden: at one point or another, somebody's mimicked them on SNL.

Some people, like Hillary Clinton, have been impersonated by multiple performers (Drew Barrymore, Vanessa Bayer, Rachel Dratch, Janeane Garofalo, Ana Gasteyer, Jan Hooks, Kate McKinnon and Amy Poehler).

Others have become synonymous with the people they mimic, like frequent guest star Alec Baldwin, who earned raves (and an Emmy!) for his continued portrayal of President Donald Trump.

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But how does it actually feel to be parodied on SNL? Allow these stars to explain:

Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci

After the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases joked that he'd like Pitt to play him in an inevitable SNL sketch, the movie star granted his wish during one of the show's at-home episodes filmed virtually in the spring of 2020. "I think he did great," Fauci said during an interview with Telemundo's Un Nuevo Dia the following Monday. "I'm a great fan of Brad Pitt, and that's the reason why when people ask me who I would like to play me, I mention Brad Pitt. He's one of my favorite actors...I think he showed that he is really a classy guy when at the end he took off his hair and thanked me and all of the health care workers. So not only is he a really great actor, but he is actually a classy person."

Chloe Fineman as Carole Baskin

The Tiger King star and Dancing With the Stars season 29 contestant was not a fan of her impersonation. "I could just slap that woman," Baskin said during an August 2020 interview on The Pet Show podcast. "This whole, 'My kitty, meow, meow, kitty, meow,' and then she would just say these really weird words all in a row. That all became popular, I guess, in popular culture and people wanted me to talk like that on the Cameos. And I'm like, ‘I have no idea how to talk like that. That is not how I speak."

Kate McKinnon as Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"I liked the actress who portrayed me," the late Ginsburg told NPR's Nina Totenberg at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. "And I would like to say, ‘Gins-Burn!' sometimes to my colleagues."

Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton

"Her really dramatic impersonation of me does make me think, 'Oh my gosh, did I roll my eyes? Lift my eyebrows?'" Clinton told People. "My laugh, which has been noted since I was a little girl—'hearty' is the way it's often described—I see the exaggerated version of it and I do sometimes think, 'Well, maybe I should just sort of back off from that.' But then I forget and go on and just be what I've always been."

Will Ferrell as James Lipton

"I ask my share of naïve questions on Inside the Actors Studio, but one of the most naïve questions ever asked of me is, 'Did Will Ferrell's imitation bother you?'" Lipton wrote in his 2007 memoir. "Upset me! No one waited more eagerly for the next installment—and the day Will left Saturday Night Live, which is to say the day I left Saturday Night Live, was a very dark day for me."

Kristen Wiig as Kathie Lee Gifford

"Everyone seems to enjoy it, but I don't think it's that funny," Gifford said on Today. "Can't she get another job? Go off and do something else?"

Kenan Thompson as Steve Harvey

"I just look at it like this: You gotta be famous to get hit," Harvey told TV Guide. "I can't read that well, but I can read better than Kenan can. I really don't have 50 buttons on any of my suits. Ten years ago I did, but not anymore. And I can't pronounce words that have four syllables, so he's right."

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

"She thought it was quite funny," Palin's spokesperson told CBS News, "particularly because she once dressed up as Tina Fey for Halloween."

Andy Samberg as Mark Wahlberg

"I didn't think it was as funny as I'd hoped," Wahlberg told MTV. "I love when people do imitations of me; I try to get people who work with me to do it all the time. It's not gonna be one of those things like [Tina Fey's] Sarah Palin, where it's a big deal...I just wish it was a little bit funnier."

Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer

"The first one was funny," Spicer told The Blast, adding that he'd like to "share" McCarthy's Emmy.

Kate McKinnon as Ellen DeGeneres

"I didn't like it. I'm just kidding—I'm Ellen!" DeGeneres joked on her eponymous talk show. "I like everything!"

Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump

"Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable!" Trump tweeted. "Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad."

Gilda Radner as Barbara Walters

"Gilda was the first person to make fun of news anchors. Now it's done all the time, but Gilda was the original. And, of course, I laughed at everybody—as long as it wasn't me. When Gilda first began to do 'Baba Wawa,' I hated it. I didn't like it. I didn't want to be 'Baba Wawa.' I guess it's good to be made fun of. I guess that means you're slightly famous," she told ABC. "I don't talk that way, and I do pronounce my Rs. Why did my parents have to name me Bar-bar-a Wal-ters?"

Zach Galifianakis as Jennifer Aniston

"I thought it was very funny. I've never been imitated before," Aniston told InStyle. "I remember watching and going, 'Is that what I do? Do I do that?' It was hysterical."

Will Ferrell as Janet Reno

"I thought it was just kind of a spoof of this 6-foot-1 big old girl," Reno told The Washington Post. "I can't figure out why anybody's that interested in me."

Kristen Wiig as Paula Deen

"I think she is brilliant," Deen told Prevention. "She is the most talented female that's been on Saturday Night Live since Gilda Radner."

Maya Rudolph as Donatella Versace

"I gave her some suggestions on how to do me better," Versace said on The View. "Because I told her, 'I don't drink. Take off that jewelry because [it is] too fake; I only wear real.'"

Vanessa Bayer as Miley Cyrus

"I said, 'You play me on TV!' And she said, 'Yeah, I do.' And I was like, 'Oh, well that's pretty cool,'" Cyrus recalled on Late Night. "And she goes, 'What?' And I was like, 'Oh my, God! I sound like you doing me!'"

Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump

"If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I'm complicit," Trump told CBS News, referring to Johansson's perfume sketch.

Kenan Thompson as Neil deGrasse Tyson

"I thought they could have done a little better," the astrophysicist said on Fox & Friends. "If the universe prompts people—artists—to have fun, then more power to it. It is a sign that science has become mainstream and that can only be a good thing."

Larry David as Bernie Sanders

"I think we'll use Larry at our next rally," Sanders told This Week. "He does better than I do."

Jay Pharoah as Denzel Washington

"I think the kid is very talented," Washington told Access Hollywood. "I'd seen him before that. He does a thing on YouTube where he does me talking to Will Smith. He's very good at both!"

Ariana Grande as Jennifer Lawrence

Calling the guest host's imitation "spot-f--king-on," Lawrence told Vogue she disliked the "regular person" line. "That's what other people have said. If I'd said, 'I'm a regular person,' I'd want to kill myself."

Fred Armisen as David Paterson

"The governor engages in humor all the time, and he can certainly take a joke. However, this particular Saturday Night Live skit unfortunately chose to ridicule people with physical disabilities and imply that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities," the governor's communications director, Risa B. Heller, told The New York Times. "The governor is sure that Saturday Night Live, with all of its talent, can find a way to be funny without being offensive."

Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek

"Every taping, somebody in the audience says, 'How do you feel about the Will Ferrell impression of you on SNL?'" the Jeopardy! host told The Hollywood Reporter. "And I say the same thing every time: 'I love it.' I wish he was back on the show so he would do more."

Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway

"Kate McKinnon clearly sees the road to the future runs through me and not [Hillary Clinton]," Conway told The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "I'm known as much more happy than maybe the character sometimes is."

Ana Gasteyer as Martha Stewart

"There have been many [parodies], none of which are very accurate or flattering," Stewart said during a Reddit AMA session. "But Ana Gasteyer on SNL did a good job."

Jim Carrey as Matthew McConaughey

"They're all derivative compliments as far as I'm concerned," McConaughey told Vanity Fair.

Maya Rudolph as Oprah Winfrey

Winfrey was such a fan of Rudolph that the actress was featured in a 2004 episode of The Oprah Wnfrey Show titled "The Funniest People in America."

Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber

"Well played," the singer tweeted. "LOL."

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Saturday Night Live returns Oct. 3 with guest host Chris Rock and musical guest Megan Thee Stallion.

(Originally published Sept. 16, 2017, at 7 a.m. PST.)

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