Brow Beat

Donald Trump Once Did a Surprisingly Introspective Interview With Errol Morris About Citizen Kane

More than a decade ago, documentarian Errol Morris interviewed Donald Trump for an aborted project called The Movie Movie. The conceit was to get various high-profile figures to put themselves in the context of their favorite films—and for Trump, it was Citizen Kane. It’s not too hard to picture: As the copy on Morris’ website currently reads, “Isn’t it possible that in an alternative universe Donald Trump actually starred in Citizen Kane?”

The resulting interview, unearthed on YouTube in September 2015 and recently shared by New York Times Magazine correspondent Mark Leibovich, seems unusually introspective for Trump. The Republican presidential nominee provides some genuinely thoughtful analysis of Orson Welles’ masterpiece—aside from an amusingly rambling discussion of “Rosebud,” which ends with his declaration that “Rosebud works!”—paying particular attention to the relationship between wealth and happiness. “In real life, I believe that wealth does isolate you from other people—it’s a protective mechanism,” he says. “You have your guard up, much more so than if you didn’t have wealth.”

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Trump rightly identifies with Charles Foster Kane’s journey, which is especially resonant this election season. He explains that the film is “all about accumulation,” and in one compelling moment, he tries to interpret the film’s infamous breakfast-table sequence as reflective of his own experiences. “The table is getting larger and larger and larger, with he and his wife getting further and further apart,” he describes. “Perhaps I can understand that.” Yet, somewhat familiarly, Trump struggles to describe Kane’s downfall. He compares his “great rise” to what he calls a “modest fall,” and rather clunkily elaborates that “the fall wasn’t a financial fall, the fall was a personal fall—but it was a fall nonetheless.”

And despite Trump’s uncommon willingness to show a little vulnerability, he ends up retreating to his comfortable, misogynistic shell. When asked what advice he’d give to Kane if given the chance, he smirks, knowingly, before offering a predictably gross response: “Get yourself a different woman.”

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