Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ Ignites Controversy in Cannes Over Rape Scene

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It proved to be the most disturbing scene in a movie chock full of unflattering sequences about Donald Trump.

In Ali Abbasi’s “The Apprentice,” Trump (played by Sebastian Stan) violently throws his then-wife Ivana (Maria Bakalova) to the ground and proceeds to have nonconsensual sex with her.

More from Variety

In the controversial scene, Ivana playfully presents a book to her husband about the merits of a female orgasm. But the interaction between the two turns dark quickly, as an uninterested Trump tells his wife that he is no longer attracted to her. They argue, and then Trump throws her to the ground. As he angrily thrusts himself into her, an icy Trump sneers: “Is that your G spot? Did I find it?”

Heading into tonight’s premiere, insiders insisted that the scene, which Variety previously reported on, was consensual but uncomfortable. But reactions within the Palais said otherwise. One woman in her 20s called the scene, which unfolds in the couple’s home after an argument, “gross” and referred to it as “rape” after the credits rolled. Another female attendee agreed, calling it a disturbing sexual assault.

The film depicts Trump’s rise from an insecure real estate wannabe in the 1970s to a self-professed “killer” and “winner” in the mid-’80s. In a likely bid to avoid litigation, the Trump origin story opens with a disclaimer that it is based on true events, but some of the characters’ names were changed.

Other than Trump, the two characters who enjoy the most screen time are Jeremy Strong’s Roy Cohn and Bakalova’s Ivana. Both Cohn and Ivana Trump are dead.

Still, it’s an extraordinary turn of events for a film to depict a former president sexually assaulting his wife. One source familiar with the script permutations told Variety that the scene was even more overt in earlier drafts, while a second insider says the scene’s inclusion was debated for its necessity to the storyline.

The rape scene isn’t the only one that Trump may find objectionable. The 2024 presidential candidate also is depicted popping amphetamine pills, getting liposuction and having surgery to remove his bald spot. Though Cohn molds him from a nobody into a mogul, Trump does not show loyalty to his mentor when he is dying of AIDS. The notorious germaphobe had his house fumigated by staff after Cohn leaves in one scene.

But one insider says audiences may find “The Apprentice” to be an oddly humanizing portrait of a man vilified by half of the country.

The film, which is being sold by CAA, WME and Rocket Science, enters the festival without distribution. It remains to be seen if buyers have the stomach to take on a project that will certainly be a lightning rod heading into the home stretch of the election.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.