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NPR Arts & Life

Johnny Depp Stars As Donald Trump (Yep, You Read That Right)

Ready for a quick game of true or false?

In 1987 Donald Trump wrote a business advice book called The Art of the Deal. [TRUE]

That book was a best-seller. [TRUE]

Trump made a TV movie based on the book that was supposed to air but didn't because a football game went into overtime. Years later, director Ron Howard found the movie at a yard sale in Phoenix. [FALSE]

The online comedy outfit Funny or Die has turned the aforementioned falsehood into a movie called The Art of the Deal starring Johnny Depp as Trump. [TRUE]

Got it? The Art of the Deal the movie was released on Funny or Die's website on Wednesday.

"We shot the entire movie in four days," screenwriter Joe Randazzo tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. The cast and crew were on set until "all hours of the night," he says. "Nobody knew what the heck was going on."


Interview Highlights

On whether the fake made-for-TV movie is a new genre

I don't know if it's a completely new thing, but it's certainly new for Funny or Die and it seemed like ... the best vessel to deliver everything we wanted to say about Donald Trump in a way that felt fitting for the time period in which he wrote the book [the 1980s] and that would be easily digestible. ... I think more than 50 minutes of Donald Trump is probably a little bit too much for anybody to bear.

On how they decided to have Johnny Depp play Donald Trump

I don't think anybody would have imagined that Johnny Depp would ever wind up playing Donald Trump. But we had the idea, we had the script, we weren't sure where to take it, or who to take it to. We knew this was the kind of thing that needed a big star. ...

I think anybody who wants to be leader of the free world should be examined in any way you possibly can — psychologically, superficially, comedically.

Everything just kind of lined up where [Depp] was coming in for a meeting, you know, with Adam McKay. And Owen Burke, who's the executive producer, was like, "We've got this Donald Trump script. Would you be interested in playing Donald Trump?" And he's like, "Uuuuh, yeah. I would." And then after he came on, obviously, everybody else wanted to be involved, too.

On whether Trump is beyond satire

I think anybody who wants to be leader of the free world should be examined in any way you possibly can — psychologically, superficially, comedically. It's a weird thing to want to do. He's a pretty phenomenal character. But it was definitely a challenge. A lot of stuff that we wrote into the script when we started in late August or early September, he wound up saying in real life, so it stopped becoming absurd.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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