Maya Rudolph Says She Didn't Get Her 'SNL' Lines 'Until Air'
Maya Rudolph’s stellar portrayal of Kamala Harris stole the spotlight during the season 46 premiere of Saturday Night Live over the weekend. However, the actress’ magnetic comedic appearance seems even more impressive when you learn how little prep time there was before the show went live.
Speaking with Andy Cohen on Tuesday’s Watch What Happens Live, Rudolph opened up about how coronavirus safety precautions — and breaking news events — made SNL‘s return to the studio on Saturday a challenging affair.
“SNL is such an amazing place and the people that run it… I can’t believe what they were able to accomplish on Saturday,” Rudolph reflected. “And it was really difficult, [largely] because of the COVID protocols.”
“Everything was slower, it was harder to get things to cards, I didn’t really get my lines until air,” Rudolph revealed. “So I had never run that sketch until we did it live.”
The “Cold Open” sketch, in which Rudolph appeared, lampooned the first chaotic presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Alec Baldwin once again reprised his portrayal of Trump, while Jim Carrey made his guest starring debut as Biden.
Rudolph’s appearance as Biden’s running mate was brief. However, she delivered one of the night’s most talked-about lines.
“I think if there’s one thing we learned tonight, it’s that America needs a WAP: Woman as President,” Rudolph’s Harris stated as the crowd cheered. “But for now, I’ll settle for HVPIC: Hot Vice President in Charge.”
Rudolph was joined in her interview with Cohen by longtime Saturday Night Live staff writer Emily Spivey — who is the creator and executive producer on the animated Fox comedy Bless the Harts. Spivey asked if the sketch went more smoothly because of her being a seasoned pro, and Rudolph gave a lot of credit to Baldwin and Carrey for rolling with the punches.
“Bless Jim Carrey’s heart, because he just jumped right in,” Rudolph said. “And even Alec is basically a castmember at this point.”
Another aspect that added to the challenges of Saturday’s premiere was the breaking news, which came late Thursday night, that President Trump had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“That COVID diagnosis on Good Ole Boy was a real fascinating time,” Rudolph said, recalling how the show had to work fast to figure out how to address the news. “Normally, in my post-castmember-of-SNL life, you always think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to be on the show right now,’ but it’s so insane. Everything is on steroids.”
“Every single bit of information is coming in so fast,” she continued. “So fast that even a show like SNL, that gives you everything up until the last minute, didn’t even have time to build half the sets they probably wanted to build to cover all this insanity.”
Ultimately, the “Cold Open” touched on the COVID-19 diagnosis briefly, but largely focused on the debate, and host Chris Rock briefly addressed the news at the start of his monologue.
While Rudolph is playing Harris on TV, the real Senator Harris has been on the campaign trail, trying to get out the vote and promote the Biden-Harris platform.
She sat down for a cover story interview with Elle for the publication’s November issue, and shared some thoughts about her battle for the White House alongside Biden.
“Optimism is the fuel driving every fight I’ve been in,” she shared. “The motivation comes from believing in what can be unburdened by what has been. “It will often feel like [we are only] against something, but the motivation that carries us through, with any longevity, is knowing what we’re fighting for.”
Harris also addressed the shifting cultural norms, civil unrest over systemic racism and inequality, and the need for Americans to deal with the nation’s painful past.
“What I hope and pray is that we can get to a point where, through what are undoubtedly difficult conversations, we confront the real history of America,” Harris says. “Doing it in a way that is motivated by love, but also is fully honest.”
Meanwhile, SNL airs live, coast-to-coast, on Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.
–Election Day is Nov. 3, 2020 — head over to Vote.org to get all the latest information on voting locations and participation.
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