Melissa McCarthy’s devastatingly specific portrayal of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer struck a nerve. First, on Super Bowl Sunday, Spicer whined about Saturday Night Live being too “mean” and said that McCarthy needed to “dial back.” Then, Monday night, a Politico article outlined how the White House responded internally—short version: not well—to the sketch. One detail in the report particularly resonated: that Trump was most upset by the fact that Spicer was played by a woman.
Now that we know Trump has a particular hang-up about seeing his staffers portrayed by female comedians, which he allegedly thinks makes them “look weak,” we decided to double down. Twitter has already lit upon one great idea: having Trump archnemesis Rosie O’Donnell play Steve Bannon, who is currently depicted as the Grim Reaper on SNL. Here are 12 actress who should portray the rest of Trump’s inner circle. It seems fitting for an increasingly unfunny presidency that many of these women aren’t even comedians at all.
Margo Martindale as Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State)
Most notably with her Emmy-winning Justified turn, Margo Martindale has demonstrated a real knack for playing opportunistic, slightly sinister power players with a thick Texan drawl. She’ll slip easily into the shoes of Mr. Tillerson, an oil tycoon of similarly villainous mien.
Sarah Silverman as Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of the Treasury)
Former Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin is in the uncomfortable position, as a Jewish person, of repping an administration that has already begun dabbling in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi propaganda. Sarah Silverman, a virtuoso at mining her own Jewishness for comedy, could brilliantly highlight the tension here—and as a passionate Bernie supporter, she’d be the perfect person to skewer Mnuchin’s Wall Street ties, too.
Laurie Metcalf as Reince Priebus (Chief of Staff)
As Reince Priebus finds himself on the outs with Trump’s inner circle, rattled by a Game of Thrones-level power struggle, it’s fun to picture the Chief of Staff—just as reports have depicted him in the past—nearly losing his mind and getting a little unhinged. Laurie Metcalf’s bug-eyed, frantic energy—showcased most recently in HBO’s Getting On—would be a great comedic match for Preibus.
Jessica Lange as Jeff Sessions (Attorney General)
The portrayer of Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama Senator with a transparently racist record, needs to be a chameleon, an actress with the ability to seethe and charm both convincingly and extravagantly. Ryan Murphy muse Jessica Lange gets the call.
Niecy Nash as Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development)
Truthfully, there’s likely no comic who can go more bizarre than Ben Carson himself (though Jay Pharoah came pretty close). Yet the versatile, wildly funny Niecy Nash would at minimum take the character in a fascinating direction. She’s skilled in comedy that’s broad, subtle, and strange—each necessary for a solid Carson impersonation—and she’s particularly well-versed in the performance of clueless authority.
Kathy Bates as Sonny Perdue (Secretary of Agriculture)
Sonny Perdue served as Governor of Georgia for eight years before transitioning to Trump’s cabinet. One of the less controversial picks on this list (not that that’s saying much), he’s a fairly well-liked, run-of-the-mill Southern conservative who gets by on charm. Kathy Bates, with her proven comic range and booming affability, is a natural fit.
Catherine O’Hara as Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services)
Tom Price tries to hide a lot behind that “modest smile” of his, but it barely masks his ethically compromised character. Catherine O’Hara’s ability to deftly balance chipperness and distress could take the image of Price contently lying under oath to a wonderful, unsettling extreme.
Amy Poehler as Rick Perry (Secretary of Energy)
Perry’s very presence on the Trump cabinet—leading the department he a) wanted to abolish, b) couldn’t remember existed at a pivotal moment, and c) didn’t understand the function of until after he’d taken a job—is already beyond the realm of parody. It’s not hard to imagine Poehler sinking her teeth into his dim, dull, unnervingly unflappable essence.
Viola Davis as James Mattis (Secretary of Defense)
James Mattis, who has worked under both President Bush and President Obama, is almost certainly going to spend much of his time as Defense Secretary keeping the erratic, dangerous impulses of President Trump, Steve Bannon, and the like in check. He’s a unique figure in the cabinet, a relatively intelligent and stable official who’ll have to very carefully strive to correct course. Viola Davis is a great dramatic actress, and she could dryly channel Mattis’ brand of no-nonsense patience.
Jane Lynch as Mike Pence (Vice President)
You may have heard already, but Mike Pence has serious problems with LGBTQ people and women (among others). What could be more fitting than a proudly queer and bitingly wry comic taking on the task of satirizing such bigotry? Her brutal deadpan would be the perfect match for Pence.
Natalie Portman as Jared Kushner (Top White House Advisor)
As Trump’s son-in-law and closest advisor, Jared Kushner brings a long and complicated history to the White House. Concealing everything from high-society pretensions to ideological contradictions to probable daddy issues, he’s built up a fairly inscrutable demeanor in his rise to top advisor. Natalie Portman would capture Kushner’s plasticine good looks and the mannered, slow-burn intensity that previously won her an Oscar (and could earn her a second).