On Tuesday, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah sat down with actor/director Edward Norton to talk about his new movie Motherless Brooklyn. While most of the conversation focused on the movie that Norton starred in, directed, wrote, and produced, Noah and Norton could not resist taking shots at President Trump; comparing him to a “racist landlord from New York” and referring to him as “our insane clown President.”
When discussing the plot of the film, Noah argued that “although the story’s set in the 50s, it feels very much applicable to what life is like today.” As he stressed that he did not want to “spoil anything” for his audience, Noah decided to inform them that “this is basically a story about a racist landlord from New York who’s destroying the world.”
While Noah did not mention the President by name, the audience erupted into laughter; demonstrating that they knew exactly who he was talking about. After all, before he took office, Trump worked as a real estate developer in the Big Apple and nearly everyone in the audience probably agreed with Noah that he is “destroying the world.”
Seeming to agree with Noah’s implicit yet obvious comparison of the movie character to Trump, Norton highlighted how “he’s played by Alec Baldwin,” who has made a career out of mercilessly mocking the Commander-in-Chief on Saturday Night Live over the past few years. After the audience responded with more applause, Norton seized the opportunity to take a shot at Trump, claiming “there’s no wigs involved, no small hands” while denying that the antagonist in the movie was “based on our insane clown President.”
A strong possibility exists that Norton might not have planned to talk politics at all despite the fact that he has made enthusiasm for the left-wing climate change agenda perfectly clear over the years. However, any guest on Noah’s show should expect The Daily Show host to praise Democrats and/or Trash Republicans at every available opportunity given his track record.
Just last week, Noah had 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the show and asked her if she was tired of having “people cheering for you when you walk into rooms.” Throughout his relatively short tenure as host of the Comedy Central program, Noah has repeatedly compared Trump to a dictator. Other favorite targets of Noah include the Catholic Church and Brett Kavanaugh.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Show is below. Click “expand” to read more.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
TREVOR NOAH: Welcome back to The Daily Show. My next guest is an Academy award-nominated actor who wrote, directed, produced and stars in the new movie “Motherless Brooklyn.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD NORTON AS LIONEL ESSROG: Seen that guy?
ERICA SWEANY AS FORMOSA HOSTESS: Friend of yours?
SWEANY: Nice face.
NORTON: Nice yourself.
SWEANY: You got a light? Tease.
SWEANY: Geez. Forget I asked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOAH: Please welcome Edward Norton.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
NOAH: Welcome to The Daily Show.
EDWARD NORTON: Thank you.
NOAH: And congratulations on making a movie that has taken you, what, two decades to finally put together?
NORTON: I read the book, I read the book about the time we were putting out “Fight Club,” so…
NORTON: …20 years ago, yeah.
NOAH: So, you read this book when you were making “Fight Club,” and like the story gripped you and then you were like, “I’m going to make this movie.”
NORTON: Yes. Well, it’s a great…the character, in case you don’t understand what you just saw there, he has…he has Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he’s…he’s a detective, but he…he trips himself up quite a lot as…
NORTON: …you can see.
NOAH: Right. Right.
NORTON: He’s not exactly the…the Bogart smooth…smooth detective.
NOAH: Right. It’s a…it’s a different type of story and I mean…
NOAH: …that’s what made the…the, the book interesting was is it was a story of a PI who has Tourette’s and also is OCD, but is brilliant. And as…as the readers…
NOAH: …we fall in love with this character, you know, because we…we root for the underdog. You know? And…and you’ve taken that story and you’ve turned it into a movie but what’s interesting is the book was set in the…like the modern-day era…
NOAH: …it was like in the 90s, and then you’ve taken it to the 50s, why?
NORTON: Well, it has a…it, the…the, the power of the novel is just what you said. It’s…it’s your deep identification with this guy, with his very chaotic, hilarious, poignant mind.
NORTON: And the plot…it’s hard to explain. In the novel, it feels like a 50s gumshoe novel though it’s set in modern Brooklyn.
NORTON: But in a way, what we wanted to do was stick to the feel of it.
NORTON: And I’m a…I’m a big fan of films like “L.A. Confidential” and “Chinatown,” and things like that. I love those films that really take you…take you back into a…a, a sensual atmospheric time where, you know, the magic of movies, when…that’s…that…you, you go into those worlds and you go, “Wow, this is…this is really cool. The music is great. The actors are adult and great and the dialogue is great.” And…and then they…they take you down into sort of a…a…a dark weave of…of the dark things that are going on in society. But…but I really liked the idea of doing that with a character who’s a little different than your…your typical gumshoe.
NOAH: It…it’s interesting that you say “the story takes us back to a time,” because although the story’s set in the 50s, it feels very much applicable to what life is like today. Because…I won’t spoil anything for you, but this is basically a story about a racist landlord from New York who’s destroying the world.
NORTON: And he’s played by Alec Baldwin.
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)
NORTON: I want to qualify that because there’s no wigs involved, no small hands. It’s…it’s…and it’s not…it’s not based on our insane clown President. It’s not. It’s really not. There was a…there was a, a…there was a true Darth Vader in New York in the 20th century named Robert Moses who, unlike others, was a genius.
NORTON: He…he was a genius, a dark genius, but…but kind of like Anakin Skywalker gone over into Darth Vader. He…he was this…this great progressive thinker who went very dark, and to a degree that people really don’t understand, he ran New York City like an imperial fiefdom for nearly half a century. And everything that was done in this city that in some ways baked discrimination into the infrastructure of the city was done by him.
NORTON: And so our…in the same way that, let’s say, “Chinatown” is sort of the story of how LA’s original crime is that it stole all its water, what we wanted to do was sort of tell the secret history of New York in some ways.