NEW YORK (AP) — In one of the more elaborate and unexpected spoofs of Donald Trump, Johnny Depp has joined the ranks of the combed-over, starring in a mock documentary released the morning after the GOP candidate's primary victory in New Hampshire.
The comedy website Funny or Die on Wednesday unveiled "Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie," a 50-minute video styled as Trump's own self-made TV movie adaptation of his 1987 best-selling advice book.
The film, shot clandestinely, stars Depp as Trump in a startling transformation for even the actor known for outlandish metamorphoses, like the Mad Hatter and Whitey Bulger. After Owen Burke, Funny or Die's editor in chief, came up with the concept, the site's co-founder Adam McKay (and director of the Oscar-nominated "The Big Short") called Depp and ran the idea by him.
"I pitched it to Johnny right there," said Burke. "The fact that Johnny said yes, we were just so excited. We couldn't believe it."
Along with Depp's leading performance, the movie is narrated by Ron Howard (who claims the film was discovered after "the Cybill Shepherd blouse fire of 1989"), features a theme song from Kenny Loggins and includes a cast of Alfred Molina, Jack McBrayer, Patton Oswalt, Stephen Merchant, Henry Winkler and Andy Richter.
With '80 video graphics, "The Art of the Deal" is presented as written, directed and edited by Trump, himself — a relic of earlier brand-building propaganda by the businessman, long before his abrupt turn into politics.
"Successful people are always on the phone — even if there's no one on the other end," the fake Trump lectures a boy in one scene.
"We wanted to make it '80s cheesy, but we knew he would have the classiest of the '80s graphic packages," says Burke. "It couldn't look that good, but it couldn't look cheap."
Written by Joe Randazzo, the former editor of The Onion, and directed by "Drunk History" co-creator Jeremy Konner, the film, Burke says, is about Trump "as this strange product of American celebrity worship and entrepreneurship."
Depp, who filmed his scenes over four days in December, impressed the filmmakers with his dedication to the role and ability to improvise.
"If you watch his eyes, he does these little things," says Burke. "He's self-assured but there's also so much dark doubt underneath it all."
"The Art of the Deal: The Movie," was first planned in August, when many didn't expect Trump's ascendance to last into the primaries. Trump commandingly won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich a distant second.
"We were thinking: We've got to get this movie out before he goes away," says Burke. "And it doesn't seem like he's going away."