A LONG, STRANGE TRIP
Topher Grace on Dating Ivanka Trump: ‘It Wasn’t a Political Statement’
The actor, who delivers a brilliant turn as KKK leader David Duke in Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ discusses dating the president’s daughter just before Jared Kushner.
On Saturday, The New York Times published a curious piece titled “Still Standing, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Step Back in the Spotlight.”
The article, which reads like favor-currying agitprop, paints the president’s elder daughter and son-in-law—for the umpteenth time—as mitigating forces whose agenda is often at odds with that of Trump Sr., and the string-pullers behind a number of controversial departures in the ever-chaotic Trump White House. The passage that’s garnered the most online attention, however, doesn’t concern the so-called “projects” the real-estate heirs are pursuing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but the president’s snide comments about his eldest daughter’s love life.
“Several times Mr. Trump joked that he ‘could have had Tom Brady’ as a son-in-law,” it read. “‘Instead,’ the president said, according to five people who heard him, ‘I got Jared Kushner.’”
He also could have had Topher Grace.
In 2005, Ivanka Trump, then a 24-year-old New York socialite, dumped her long-term boyfriend Bingo Gubelmann—a fellow rich kid and descendant of inventor William S. Gubelmann, whom Popular Mechanics dubbed “the father of all calculating machines” (Bingo would later be popped for cocaine possession mere months before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy). Following the split, the twenty-something went clubbing in Saint Tropez with her longtime pal Paris Hilton at the premiere bash for her hit single “Stars Are Blind,” as one does, and briefly dated a pre-disgrace Lance Armstrong. Then, in November 2006, People reported that Ivanka and the actor Topher Grace, of That ‘70s Show fame, were an item.
“Ivanka Trump and Topher Grace got close this weekend in Las Vegas, where she celebrated her 25th birthday on Saturday at Pure nightclub,” the tabloid reported. “Trump and Grace…danced and cuddled on the VIP bed and even shared a quick kiss during the party, which was also attended by Ryan Cabrera, Chelsea Handler and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine.”
I sat down with Grace to discuss his outstanding performance as KKK leader David Duke in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, in theaters August 10, and asked him about whether he actually dated Ivanka.
“Uh… I did,” he reluctantly told me. “Certainly it wasn’t a political statement. This was a decade ago. I met her here in New York and we went on a couple of dates. I wouldn’t say that we ‘dated,’ but… I didn’t do it for political reasons.”
Grace, who was 28 during the brief tryst, further claimed that he “never met her father.” When I jokingly suggested that he could play her current beau Jared Kushner in the inevitable Trump White House film, he laughed: “I don’t know, man.”
Ivanka would go on to date fellow real-estate heir Jared Kushner shortly after her split from Grace. “We met through mutual friends,” she told New York magazine of Kushner in 2009. “We started dating pretty quickly after we met. It still felt like a slow process—a courtship, if you will.”
The two married in October 2009; Grace married his current partner, Ashley Hinshaw, in May 2016.
During our conversation, Grace also discussed the heavy toll that the Trump administration’s taken on Americans.
“It’s a daily deluge,” he said. “I can’t even think what the scandal was five weeks ago.”
The Daily Beast’s full profile of Topher Grace will run later this week.