‘The Apprentice’ Director Responds to Donald Trump Threatening to Sue

Everything to Know About Donald Trump Movie Taking the 2024 Cannes Film Festival by Storm 310
Sebastian Stan, Donald Trump, Jeremy Strong. Getty Images (3)

Anticipation for the upcoming Donald Trump biographical drama The Apprentice reached new heights when it debuted at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival just days after wrapping production.

Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Gabriel Sherman, Sebastian Stan stars as a young Trump in the film, which follows the future president as he rises to power as a New York businessman in the 1980s under the influence of his attorney Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong). The Apprentice debuted during the second week of Cannes in May 2024, earning a nearly 8-minute standing ovation.

After the credits rolled, Abbasi directly addressed why he chose to tell a story about Trump in the current political climate, claiming that movies should be made “relevant” again.

“There is no nice metaphorical way to deal with the rising wave of fascism. There’s only the messy way,” the director told the crowd, per The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s only the banal way. There’s only the way of dealing with this wave on its own terms, at its own level and it’s not going to be pretty, but I think the problem with the world is that the good people have been quiet for too long. So, I think it’s time to make movies relevant. It’s time to make movies political again.”

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Just hours after the film made its Cannes debut, Trump’s campaign declared plans to take those associated with the production to court for “defamation.”

Keep reading for everything you need to know about The Apprentice:

What Is ‘The Apprentice’ About?

Directed by Abbasi and written by Sherman, the biographical drama follows a young Donald Trump’s rise to power as a New York businessman in the 1980s under the influence of his attorney Roy Cohn.

Who Stars in ‘The Apprentice’?

Stan and Strong play Trump and Cohn, respectively, while Maria Bakalova portrays a young Ivanka Trump. Martin Donovan, Joe Pingue, Catherine McNally, Ben Sullivan and Joe Pingue also star.

How Does Donald Trump Feel About ‘The Apprentice’?

Safe to say, not great. After the film debuted at Cannes, Trump’s campaign immediately announced plans to take Abbasi and those associated with the film to court.

“We will be filing a lawsuit to address the blatantly false assertions from these pretend filmmakers,” Trump campaign’s Steven Cheung said in a May 20 statement, per THR. “This garbage is pure fiction which sensationalizes lies that have been long debunked. 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 continued in a kitchen sink manner.”

The statement continued, “This ‘film’ is pure malicious defamation, 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.”

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Why Is ‘The Apprentice’ Controversial?

The movie, which reportedly finished just days before it premiered at Cannes, is currently still looking for a U.S. distributor thanks to 2024 being an election year. It was, however, sold at Cannes to StudioCanal for the U.K. and Ireland. It is set to release sometime in 2024.

Certain topics broached in the film are also controversial, including a scene that features the former president getting liposuction, as well as Donald’s alleged rape his then-wife, Ivana, per multiple outlets. (Ivana, who died in 2022, previously claimed Donald had sexually assaulted her over the years following the exes’ divorce, but later recanted the statement.)

What Has Ali Abbasi Said About the Lawsuit Threats?

The director shared that he offered to meet with Trump and show him and his colleagues the film.

“I don’t necessarily think that this is a movie he would dislike,” Abbasi said to Variety in May 2024. “I don’t necessarily think he would like it. I think he would be surprised, you know? And like I’ve said before, I would offer to go and meet him wherever he wants and talk about the context of the movie, have a screening and have a chat afterward, if that’s interesting to anyone at the Trump campaign.”

What Has Sebastian Stan Said About the Movie?

During a press conference after the Cannes viewing, Stan opened up about why he decided to take on such a controversial role.

“The hope we have is that people watch the film, ’cause I always feel like there’s always something to learn. I think for me, as an actor standing next to this brave artist [Abassi] that I respect and I will follow wherever he goes with all these people who had enough balls to do this project,” he said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s what we have to do. We have to take on things that are risky and perhaps uncomfortable to talk about, but I think it’s important that we do. Like Ali said last night, it’s in our face every day and I think we need to have a perspective or at least we need to just confront one another hopefully in a peaceful way about what’s happening and what we’re seeing.”