Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ to Premiere at Cannes: First Look and What We Know

Donald Trump Movie ‘The Apprentice’ to Premiere at Cannes: First Look and What We Know

It’s official: Donald Trump — or at least a fictionalized version of him — is heading to Cannes.

The prestigious French film festival unveiled its 2024 official film selection Thursday in Paris, and Iranian-Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice was among the titles revealed for the event’s main competition.

The biographical drama stars Sebastian Stan as Trump and explores his career as an aspiring real estate tycoon in the New York City of the 1970s and 1980s. The film is described as a mentor-protégé narrative that documents the start of an American dynasty and tackles themes including power, corruption and deception. It delves into the relationship between Trump and Roy Cohn, the New York City prosecutor oft-remembered for working with Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the Second Red Scare. 

The movie’s official logline reads: “The Apprentice is a dive into the underbelly of the American empire. It charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power through a Faustian deal with the influential right-wing lawyer and political fixer Roy Cohn.”

Adding to the film’s must-watch buzziness, Succession star Jeremy Strong appears opposite Stan in the co-starring role of Cohn. And it gets better: Maria Bakalova, unforgettable for her breakthrough performance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, plays Ivana Trump. Veteran character actor Martin Donovan is Donald’s father, Fred Trump.

The movie’s producers released a still giving a first look at the film Thursday, following the Cannes announcement. The image shows an intense Strong staring at a spooked-looking young Trump.

Principal photography for The Apprentice began in November 2023 and only wrapped Jan. 28, 2024, suggesting a sprint through postproduction to be ready to premiere in Cannes in May. Many in the industry had thought the film was more likely to launch at the Venice or Toronto film festivals in the fall.

Born in Iran, Abbasi has been based in Denmark, where he studied filmmaking, since the mid-2000s. His first feature, Shelley, an art house horror movie, premiered to strong reviews at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. He unveiled his second film, Border, at Cannes in 2018, winning the Un Certain Regard section. The movie was later selected as Sweden’s entry to the Oscars in the best foreign-language film category. His most recent feature, Holy Spider, a harrowing thriller about a real-life serial killer who targeted sex workers in Iran, was elevated to Cannes main competition in 2022. The film’s star, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, won the festival’s best actress award, and the film was picked as Denmark’s official Oscar entry, making the shortlist.

Abbasi directed The Apprentice from a script by Gabriel Sherman, whose biography of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, was the basis for Showtime’s 2019 miniseries The Loudest Voice, starring Russell Crowe.

Stan’s career has been on the rise in recent years, but he has some outsize shoes to fill — big, beautiful shoes (Trump voice) — in inhabiting The Donald. The actor earned an Emmy nomination for his role as drummer Tommy Lee in Hulu’s biographical miniseries Pam & Tommy opposite Lily James as Pamela Anderson. His other work includes this year’s Sony film Dumb Money, the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the 2017 fact-based movie I, Tonya.

Producers of The Apprentice are Daniel Bekerman for Scythia Films (Canada), Jacob Jarek for Profile Pictures (Denmark), Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde for Tailored Films (Ireland), Abbasi and Louis Tisné for Film Institute (Denmark). Executive producing are Amy Baer, Mark H. Rapaport, Emanuel Nunez, Josh Marks, Grant S. Johnson, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross, Thorsten Schumacher, Niamh Fagan, Gabe Sherman, Lee Broda, Greg Denny and James Shani.

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival runs May 14-25.

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