Trump campaign threatens to sue ‘The Apprentice’ film, director shrugs it off – National

The 2024 Cannes Film Festival has experienced its fair share of criticism over the newly premiered The Apprentice movie, but none as contemptuous as the complaints from those in Donald Trump‘s camp.

The Apprentice, a fictionalized retelling of the former U.S. president’s real estate career throughout the 1970s and ’80s, includes a scene that sees Trump (played by Sebastian Stan) rape his first wife Ivana (played by Maria Bakalova). The scene is in reference to a 1989 incident detailed in the real-life divorce trial of Trump and Ivana.

Though the film opens with a disclaimer that the events are based on a true story, the Trump campaign on Monday announced they will be “filing a lawsuit to address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers.”

Trump campaign’s chief spokesperson Steven Cheung told Variety the film is “pure malicious defamation.”

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“This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalizes lies that have been long debunked,” he said. “As with the illegal Biden Trials, this is election interference by Hollywood elites, who know that President Trump will retake the White House and beat their candidate of choice because nothing they have done has worked.”

Cheung added that The Apprentice movie “should not see the light of day, and 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.”

“It belongs in a dumpster fire,” the Trump campaign concluded.


Sebastian Stan, Ali Abbasi and Maria Bakalova attend the ‘The Apprentice’ red carpet at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2024, in Cannes, France.


Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

The film’s director Ali Abbasi seemed altogether unconcerned with the legal threats from the Trump campaign.


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“Everybody talks about him suing a lot of people — they don’t talk about his success rate though, you know?” Abbasi told Variety.

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He said he offered to screen the movie for Trump and to discuss its context with the Trump campaign.

“I don’t necessarily think that this is a movie he would dislike,” Abbasi added. “I don’t necessarily think he would like it. I think he would be surprised.”

The scene of non-consensual sex in The Apprentice reportedly made several audience members squirm and drew criticism for its vulgar depiction. In the film, Ivana insults Trump’s appearance before he forces her to the floor in an attack.

During their real-life divorce trial, Ivana accused Trump of rape in her deposition, not unlike that of the fictionalized depiction.

She later changed her allegations against Trump and said in a 1993 statement that they had “marital relations in which he behaved very differently towards me than he had during our marriage.” In acknowledging her earlier claim of rape, Ivana said, “I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”

Ivana again denied the rape in 2015.

For his part, Trump has always denied any wrongdoing.

As well as a rapist, The Apprentice paints Trump in a number of other unflattering lights, with scenes including Trump getting liposuction, undergoing a scalp-reduction surgery for hair loss and developing an addiction to diet pills.

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Alongside the Trump campaign, Variety reported that one of the film’s investors, Dan Snyder, has also threatened legal action and has demanded a re-cut of the movie. The outlet reported that Snyder thought the portrayal of Trump would be in a much more positive light.

The Apprentice earned an eight-minute standing ovation after it premiered at the Grand Theatre Lumiere on Monday.

The film also stars Jeremy Strong as Trump’s lawyer and fixer Roy Cohn.

The Apprentice does not yet have a release date — though Abbasi joked that “a promotional event coming up called U.S. Election that is going to help us with the movie.”

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“The second debate is going to be Sept. 15, something like that, so that’s a good release date I would say,” he said.


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