Donald Trump's Team Threaten Legal Action As New Biopic The Apprentice Debuts At Cannes

The Trump campaign branded the movie "garbage" and said it "doesn’t even deserve a place in the straight-to-DVD section of a bargain bin".
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Pool via Getty Images

Donald Trump’s team has threatened legal action after a new biopic about him debuted at the Cannes Film Festival.

Rather than focussing on Trump as we currently know him (as the central figure in his own reality show who went on to serve one term in the White House before gearing up to campaign for another), Ali Abbasi’s new movie The Apprentice centres around the early years of the former president’s business career in the 1970s and 80s.

It also delves into his marriage to his first wife, Ivana Trump, including one scene in which he is depicted raping her.

Steven Cheung, the spokesperson for Trump’s current presidential campaign, has already rubbished the film after its premiere on Monday, calling it “garbage” and “pure fiction which sensationalises lies that have been long debunked” in a statement to Variety.

Cheung also branded the film “election interference by Hollywood elites”, claiming it “should not see the light of day” and belongs “in a dumpster fire” as it “doesn’t even deserve a place in the straight-to-DVD section of a bargain bin at a soon-to-be-closed discount movie store”.

The Trump campaign added that they’d be “filing a lawsuit to address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers”.

According to one review, The Apprentice opens with a title card stating that the film is “based on real events”, but includes fictionalised elements.

The aforementioned sexual assault scene is inspired by an incident detailed by Ivana Trump during her 1990 divorce proceedings, which she initially described as “rape”, per The Guardian.

Ivana and Donald Trump pictured in 1986
Ivana and Donald Trump pictured in 1986
Ron Galella via Getty Images

In a statement three years later, Ivana said: “On one occasion during 1989, Mr Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently towards me than he had during our marriage.

“As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape’, but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

Trump previously referred to his ex-wife’s account as “obviously false”.

Sebastian Stan, who has previously portrayed real-life figures in I, Tonya and Pam & Tommy, takes the lead as Donald Trump in The Apprentice.

Succession’s Jeremy Strong portrays Trump’s business mentor Roy Cohn, while Maria Bakalova (who previously earned an Oscar nomination for her work in the second Borat film) appears as Ivana Trump.

Sebastian Stan, Ali Abbasi and Maria Bakalova in Cannes on Monday
Sebastian Stan, Ali Abbasi and Maria Bakalova in Cannes on Monday
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis via Getty Images

So far, The Apprentice has received mixed reviews.

In The Times’ four-star review, both Sebastian and Jeremy are singled out for praise, while the film itself is referred to as “brilliant”.

The Guardian, however, was less enthusiastic, claiming the film depicts Trump as a “cartoon” and a “joke that is now beyond unfunny”, while branding the film “obtuse and irrelevant” in the current political climate.

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