The Trump Films Are Coming, And We Might as Well Get Ready Now.
I am not rich, I am not White. I am younger than 40, I am from California, and I have a college degree. Basically, I am the inverse of the stereotypical supporter of President Donald Trump (except for being male). I’m also a film junkie who can recognize when real life is just a screenplay that hasn’t been filmed yet. Naturally, I’ve been waiting for a film adaptation of the Trump presidency since last year’s inauguration.
Recently, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Jay Roach would be directing a TV adaptation of Michael Wolff’s controversial bestselling book, Fire and Fury. There’s not much information on the project at this time; no cast, no genre, no network. The only sure thing about the project is that it will adapt Fire and Fury into a miniseries format. The book was a tell-all about the goings on inside Trump’s White House, and all the chaos, backstabbing, and generally instability that the administration has to wade through every day. Some of it’s true, some it isn’t, but the book sent Trump, his staff, and his allies into a frenzy due to its portrayal of the administration as, more or less, a circus. For those who don’t know, Jay Roach directed the Austin Powers films, Meet the Parents and its first sequel, the 2016 Lyndon B. Johnson’s biopic All the Way, Will Ferrell’s political satire The Campaign, and HBO’s award-winning Game Change that was based on the McCain-Palin campaign. With those credits to his name, Roach is probably one of the best equipped directors to helm this project.
I’m sure that Roach will do a pretty good job, but I can’t stop thinking about all the possibilities out there for Trump films. There could be an origin story of Trump, some kind of love story between him and Putin, or maybe even some kind of animated feature where Trump is terrorizing little kids. There have already been enough scandals, staff shake ups, and covfefe type shenanigans for dozens of Oscar-winning films, but only four of them will be any good. I know there are already writers and directors sitting on scripts about Trump just waiting for the ending to write itself, therefore I’m calling it right now. Here are the films and my ideal versions of the cast and crew behind them:
The Oscar Bait One, The Drama
Obviously, this one will be all about the Russian interference in the election and Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Trump. It won’t take a staunchly left or right political stance, it will just condemn the entire system of politics and examine how all the corruption works together to make the U.S. function. It will boil down to a battle of wits: Trump, his entire legal team, and his allies versus the FBI, led by Robert Mueller, as the FBI tries to bring the president to justice while facing pressure from all sides. President Trump will be a major character, but he won’t exactly be the central character. He’ll be like Darth Vader in A New Hope or Don Corleone in The Godfather –memorable character with huge impact, but relatively little screen time. He’ll slowly lose his composure and turn more antagonistic as the film progresses, but he won’t be an outright villain. This one will be a lot of tight dialogue and strong performances from mostly British actors. It’ll be okay but overly praised by cinephiles.
Similar to: The People vs. Larry Flynt, Frost/Nixon
Director: Oliver Stone
Writers: Aaron Sorkin and Anthony McCarten (Sorkin for dialogue, McCarten for plot)
Main Cast: Stephen Dillane as Robert Mueller, Jon Voight as Donald Trump, Jeremy Irons as John Kelly, Jim Broadbent as Mitch McConnell, William H. Macy as Stephen K. Bannon, and Meryl Streep (doesn’t matter who she’s playing; she’ll be in it)
Dark Comedy Crime Film
As obvious as the Trump film is, I think there has to be a film about his incompetent and corrupt son-in-law as well. Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, are inexplicably key figures in Trump’s administration. Kushner has been accused of using his position to save his family’s property ventures, and trying to work personal business deals into policy meetings. That’s the perfect setup for a darkly comedic take on political corruption, something with snappy dialogue, a cast full of bad guys, and really sleek ’90s style directing. The story would be based around Kushner’s attempts to draw foreign diplomats into toxic investments and ending up a patsy for those same diplomats. It would be a funnier version of Lord of War with an ending like Goodfellas where, spoiler alert, Henry Hill testifies against his bosses and ends up living the life of an “average nobody” after the operation falls apart. Also, for the sake of comedy, I’m imagining Eric Trump as Kushner’s even crazier partner in crime. Ivanka’s the “smart” one who tries to keep them in check. The President is like the kingpin with all the best lines.
Similar to: Pain and Gain, War Dogs
Director: Guy Ritchie (first choice was Michael Bay, but he’s already on it)
Writers: Todd Phillips, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (lots of other uncredited writers)
Main Cast: Miles Teller as Jared Kushner, probably Zac Efron as Eric Trump, Adrianne Palicki as Ivanka Trump, Will Arnett as Don Trump Jr, and Jeff Bridges as “The President”
If you’ve ever seen The Thick of It, In the Loop, or their US equivalent Veep, then you know where I’m going with this. Trump may be the one at the top, but he’s surrounded by an entire team of long-suffering aides who are, essentially, living out a new season of The Apprentice. This film would follow the guys around Trump: press secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Kellyanne Conway, politicians like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, and all the other staffers who have to reign in the “dotard” president. This would be the most overtly political film; Hollywood sticking it to the right wing. Of course, it won’t be as funny as we’re all hoping. This is my dream version of it, and even I can recognize these things are never as funny as they should be. Still, it will have a few hysterical scenes and a surprise appearance from Randall Park reprising his The Interview role of Kim Jong-un to make it worthwhile. The story for this one is all the Trump aides trying to prevent a series of increasingly disastrous events, and the president accidentally foiling their efforts. It will definitely end with either impeachment hearings or a nuclear war.
Similar to: In the Loop, The Candidate, or a film version of Veep
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Armando Iannucci, Edgar Wright, and (I know this one’s a longshot) Mel Brooks
Main Cast: John Slattery as Mike Pence, Jillian Bell as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Allison Williams as Hope Hicks, Elizabeth Banks as Kellyanne Conway, Adam Scott as Jared Kushner, Katherine Heigl as Ivanka Trump, Zach Woods as Paul Ryan, and Paul Giamatti as Mitch McConnell
Last one, just for fun: a horror film that, to mix things up, is from Trump’s perspective. In this one, the media really is an enemy of the state, and there really is a deep state that’s trying to undermine the president’s legitimacy. CNN and MSNBC are in on it, along with most print publications. They’re using Robert Mueller as their weapon against Trump. Sensible voices like FOX News and Breitbart are silenced as more and more of the media is commandeered by the deep state. Trump does actual good work, but then checks the TV and sees the news is reporting “alternative facts” blaming him for doing something bad. He tries to tweet out the truth, but his tweets all get doctored by an unseen hacker. He tries to contact his allies, but they slowly turn on him. At the end, Trump walks through the White House only to find that it’s empty and he’s trapped with his own paranoia. Eventually, Robert Mueller shows up and stalks Trump through the empty mansion like a silent predator. Trump will have to use his wits to survive. He dies at the end (spoiler alert). The sequel hook will be Mike Pence being sworn in, standing alone in the Oval Office, and Robert Mueller popping up behind him. This will be the only one that uses fictional stand-ins for real characters.
Similar to: Gaslight, The Truman Show, 1984, and Don’t Breathe
Director: Fede Álvarez
Writers: Jordan Peele and Andrew Niccol
Main Cast: Michael Douglas as “Donald Trump” (but Douglas would have to put on weight), and James Cromwell as “Robert Mueller”
Of course, there are more stories than these four waiting to be made. I’m looking forward to all the different takes on President Trump’s administration. I’ll have to wait a while, though. Most of these won’t get made until the end of the presidency, but no matter how it ends, the stories are already there.