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Ana Gasteyer Reveals How Her West Wing Cameo as the Voice of the Butterball Hotline Happened

"[Tony Sepulveda] called me up and said, ‘Would you want to be the Butterball turkey hotline lady?'"

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Ana Gasteyer West Wing

    It’s Thanksgiving week, making it the perfect time to revisit one of the most iconic television scenes of the holiday.

    Season 3, Episode 7 of The West Wing features a beloved sequence in which President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) consults the Butterball turkey hotline on Thanksgiving. Two years ago, Ana Gasteyer revealed that she, in fact, provided the voice on the other side of the line as President Bartlet fumbled for a cover name and dissected the ins and outs of preparing stuffing.

    After she shared the fun fact via Twitter, the anecdote went viral, prompting cast members of the show and even creator Aaron Sorkin himself to share that they had no idea the Saturday Night Live alum provided a critical half of the conversation.

    Now, Ana Gasteyer has shared how the pieces behind her appearance came together in an extended interview with Consequence.

    “One of my directors at Groundlings [Tony Sepulveda] went on to become a very successful casting director,” she explains. “I was on SNL, and I was in New York at the time… He called me up and said, ‘Would you want to be the Butterball turkey hotline lady? You just have to record it in a booth, just audio, so we don’t need you in L.A. You can just record it in New York.’”

    The episode was directed by Paris Barclay, one of the most storied directors of The West Wing and beyond. At the time, Gasteyer explains, she approached the recording as a side gig for an old friend. “It was an uncredited voiceover, it was just for fun,” she says. “But the show’s gone on, as many shows do, to age incredibly well.”

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    The reveal of her voiceover cameo went viral after Lin-Manuel Miranda, a huge West Wing enthusiast himself, shared the news on his own Twitter feed. (“He has a bajillion followers,” Gasteyer confirms of the aftermath.) With podcasts, forums, and accounts still dedicated to the show, it wasn’t long before the news had all West Wing fans (and many cast members) in a frenzy.

    For Gasteyer, it’s more of a lovely memory than anything. No one would have predicted that the scene would become so beloved, a staple of family Thanksgivings even decades later. “My career has had a lot of strange, special little moments,” she says. “My first job was in the ‘Soup Nazi’ episode of Seinfeld.”

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    Maybe it’s a strange special coincidence, as she thinks, or maybe Ana Gasteyer just has a way of finding things destined to become iconic.

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