Adam McKay’s 2010 movie The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as desk detectives who finally get their big chance to fight crime, opens with an elaborate car chase. The scene culminates when Samuel L. Jackson’s badass cop shouts, “You have the right to remain silent, but I want to hear you scream!” before crashing directly into the façade of Trump Tower in New York City as a giant fireball explodes out of the front doors.
The throwaway gag feels oddly cathartic eight years later. But as the director tells The Daily Beast, it came at a price.
“We actually shot a little scene with him later in the movie where he was on TV commenting about something,” McKay says of Trump during an interview in Beverly Hills this week. “No joke, I remember watching it going, this is too cheeseball having this guy in the movie, cut this out.”
McKay, whose new film Vice takes a more sobering look at the life and career of former Vice President Dick Cheney, confirmed that Trump would famously demand cameos in films that featured his properties—on top of licensing fees to include his name in gold letters on screen.
Details surrounding that bizarre demand from the real estate developer-turned-president were previously revealed in a 2017 interview with Matt Damon in The Hollywood Reporter.
“The deal was that if you wanted to shoot in one of his buildings, you had to write him in a part,” Damon explained. “[Director] Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman—and the whole crew was in on it. You have to waste an hour of your day with a bullshit shot. Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino’s like, ‘Hello, Mr. Trump!’—you had to call him by name—and then he exits.” That film’s co-star Chris O’Donnell recently told Conan O’Brien a similar story about the scene, which also featured Trump’s then-wife Marla Maples.
“You waste a little time so that you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out,” Damon added. “But I guess in Home Alone 2 they left it in.”
Trump’s one-line scene with Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 2—“Down the hall and to the left,” he tells the lost child looking for the Plaza lobby—may be his most famous cameo, but it is hardly the only one to make it into the final product.
Throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s, Trump appeared as himself in everything from Sex and the City, in which he’s name-checked by Carrie Bradshaw, to The Associate, where he crosses paths with Whoopi Goldberg, to Ben Stiller’s Zoolander, in which he stands next to then-girlfriend Melania Knauss and deadpans, “Look, without Derek Zoolander, male modeling wouldn’t be what it is today.”
On the flip side, he reportedly threatened to sue the producers of Sharknado 3 for not casting him as the president of the United States—two years before he became the actual president of the United States.
Years before McKay won an Oscar for writing The Big Short, he used humor in The Other Guys to sneakily call attention to Wall Street crime. That’s why, he explains, it made sense to literally blow up one of New York’s most opulent symbols in the film’s opening minutes.
“Our idea, by having it be Trump Tower, was that it was this crazy excess,” McKay says. “That it was these guys shooting and destroying New York City over a small amount of drugs. It’s a gold building. And they’re heroes, but what have they really accomplished? So that was where it came from.”
“And then later we had him in the movie and I was just like, ‘Get him out of there, he’s such a cheeseball,’” McKay adds. “And then he became president.”
Asked if he’s glad he made the decision to cut the future commander in chief out of his comedy film, McKay says, “Oh, hell yeah. I would have felt gross every time I watched it.”
Stay tuned for our full interview with McKay about going from writing parodies of Bush and Cheney on SNL to directing Christian Bale as the former vice president in his new Golden Globe-nominated film.