Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 presidential election was “the worst night of my life,” actress Laura Benanti told TheWrap. Though she’s surely not alone in either New York City or Hollywood — her two professional stomping grounds — the star of stage and screen told TheWrap her mood showed on TV (and that it probably shouldn’t have been shown on air).
Benanti is pitch-perfect as Stephen Colbert’s recurring Melania Trump, a role she reprised on the “Late Show” host’s live election special back on that fateful November night. Unfortunately, nobody in that room (like many American rooms that evening) was actually prepared for a Trump-Pence victory.
As the unthinkable became the inevitable, like the age-old saying in this industry suggests, the show had to go on. Benanti was a trouper through the ready skit — which had no Plan B, she tells us — though she later publicly apologized for her role in it. Speaking to Benanti ahead of the official opening curtain on her new play “Meteor Shower,” TheWrap asked the Tony Award-winner what exactly she had to be sorry about.
Read her answer below.
TheWrap: Why did you feel the need to apologize for doing Melania Trump on the special?
Benanti: I felt like we should have cut it. I don’t think anyone — including Trump — anticipated that he was going to win. So we just didn’t have an alternative. At that point, we all could read the room. Like, people were crying in the audience — I was crying. I was hysterically crying before I went on-stage.
Unfortunately, the sketch didn’t match the tone of what was actually happening, and I think that some people found the tone to be off-putting and upsetting — and were tweeting me as such. It was the first time in my life where I felt like, ‘You know what? Yeah, I get it, that was not good timing.’
But at the same time, what else were we supposed to do? We didn’t have anything to fill that time — it’s a live show. I guess we could have tried to rewrite it on the fly, but to be honest, everyone is a human being and was just in a straight-up panic. Like, ‘Are we all gonna die?’
We haven’t all died — yet.
A day after the election, Benanti wrote the following on Twitter: “People saying the Melania sketch wasn’t funny last night … I know. I’m so sorry. If I had anticipated this outcome I wouldn’t have done it.”
Now, she feels a bit bad about that.
“I didn’t want the Colbert writers to think that I was saying their sketch wasn’t funny — I was saying the circumstances weren’t funny,” she explained in our interview.
Clearly, the “Supergirl” alum is no fan of the folks in the White House — but has she ever heard from them about her Melania?
“Never. No. Never,” she told us. “And I’m surprised. I’m actually surprised because he’s so adamant about like tweeting about Alec Baldwin. To me, again, it just shows the deep-seeded misogyny, where he’s like, ‘Eh, Melania, who gives a s—.'”
But, “I am 100 percent certain he’s seen it,” Benanti assured us.
Readers can catch Benanti in Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower,” which officially opens its curtains on Wednesday.