Brad Pitt Played Dr. Anthony Fauci on 'SNL' | The Mary Sue
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Brad Pitt Played Dr. Fauci on SNL While Trump Probably Screamed and Threw Something

Delighting the older members of my family and no doubt enraging Donald Trump, this year’s newly minted Best Supporting Actor, Brad Pitt, embodied Dr. Anthony Fauci for Saturday Night Live’s cold open. This was great on a few levels.

First of all, the casting here was a meta wink. Several weeks ago, when Dr. Fauci was asked who he’d want to play him on SNL, the infectious disease expert joked, “Brad Pitt, of course.” Well, Brad Pitt it shall be.

SNL was making Fauci’s dream a reality, at the same time elevating the doctor in pop culture even further by having him played by one of America’s most famous movie stars—who happens to be known for his attractiveness. Pitt, in a gray wig and Fauci’s signature glasses, did a good job with Fauci’s raspy, calming tones and gestures; he fit the bill quite nicely.

Fauci, in his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has become a household name and one of the sole voices of reason on the coronavirus task force beside Trump’s rants and raves on the subject. As such, he’s now an object of adoration and even veneration among some Americans (and a target of attack for others). Pitt-as-Fauci responds to some of the outlandish claims Trump has made about the coronavirus, while also cheekily referencing the doctor’s fame.

Pitt touches on this with a joke as he starts out: “First, I’d like to thank all the older women in America who have sent me supportive, inspiring … and sometimes graphic emails.” Then he moves on into general (re)interpreter for Trump’s nonsensical statements, saying, “There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about the virus and yes, the President has taken some liberties with our guidelines. So tonight, I would like to explain what the President was trying to say.”

As real clips of Trump’s preposterous blustering and bizarre ideas are played, Pitt-as-Fauci keeps the doctor’s notorious cool. When Trump asserts that there will be vaccines “relatively soon,” Pitt says, “Relatively soon is an … interesting phrase. Relative to the entire history of Earth? Sure.” When Trump claims that “anybody that needs a test gets a test” (which is still as false as when he declared it) and that the “tests are beautiful,” which, hmm, Pitt’s Fauci clarifies, “I don’t know if I would describe the test as ‘beautiful,’ unless your idea of beauty is having a cotton swab tickle your brain. Also when he said everyone can get a test what he meant was almost no one.”

In response to Trump’s now-infamous, truly mind-boggling speculations about injecting disinfectants, Pitt-as-Fauci is a stand-in for the nation as he rubs his head with his hand in exasperated disbelief. Then he says, “Now, I know I shouldn’t be touching my face, but…”

Pitt’s Fauci also mentions the rumor that Trump could fire him. Cue clip of Trump saying he won’t fire Fauci, that he thinks Fauci is “a wonderful guy.” Pitt smiles: “So yeah. I’m getting fired.”

It’s likely only a matter of time before Trump snaps and actually fires Fauci—he’s been jealous of the positive press coverage and the public appreciation the doctor receives. He’s also interrupted Fauci in the past and not allowed him to answer certain questions. Even if Brad Pitt playing Fauci only increases Trump’s petty rage, I can enjoy, for a moment, the sheer spitting fury that I imagine afflicted our orange monstrosity when SNL aired. A far cry from Alec Baldwin’s ranting, raving depiction of Trump, Pitt played Fauci as America’s comforting, in-the-know voice of reason.

Even better, the cold open closed on an important note, as Pitt removed the wig and glasses and earnestly thanked those who are on the front lines of battling COVID-19: “And to the real Dr. Fauci, thank you for your calm and your clarity in this unnerving time. And thank you to the medical workers, first responders, and their families for being on the front line.”

No fewer than three older members of my family emailed me the Pitt-as-Fauci clip, which is kind of adorable? But this clearly struck a chord with them and hit home. For SNL, it was a home run.

(via Time, image: screengrab/SNL/NBC)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.