American presidents aren't off limits in the Kingsman franchise and director Matthew Vaughn almost included Donald Trump jokes in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Vaughn revealed that the original script for the sequel to 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service contained at least two Trump references, one in the film's dialogue and another in production design.
In the film, Julianne Moore's villainous Poppy is a business woman whose business happens to be the global drug trade. In the original script, Poppy reportedly expressed her desire to be the host of NBC's The Apprentice -- Donald Trump's reality show. However, Vaughn said that the line was removed because it was just a little too close to home.
“We actually took out the Apprentice line because we felt it was too close to the bone," Vaughn said. "I think America’s going through a pretty interesting and rough ride at the moment and I wanted this movie to be escapism. And that means not suddenly have half the audience going, ‘That’s not cool, that’s not funny!’ as the other half is cheering.”
That same concern about the Apprentice line being too much too soon also led to a complete redesign of an important set in the film because Vaughn had a gut feeling that Trump might win the election despite everyone insisting he wouldn't.
“We were building a White House Oval Office in the style of Trump Tower," Vaughn explained. "We were making it in all gold and blinging it up. This was in May of 2016 and then I had an inkling. I remember saying to my American production designer, ‘Trump might win, you know? Would this be as funny if Trump won?’ And he was like, ‘Trump will never win.’ And I said, ‘You know what, I have a weird feeling he might. So, let’s build a normal Oval Office and scrap the Trump version.’ I think my instinct was right. If you go too far — if movies get political when they’re meant to be fun — then it weighs everything down a bit too much.”
Turns out Vaughn was right. Trump did win the 2016 election, proving Vaughn's instincts right and prompting an emotional phone call from the film's production designer.
“Trust me, he rang me up, virtually crying, and going, ‘I shouldn’t have laughed at you. This is my karma for laughing.'”
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in theaters now.