Jeremy Strong Says ‘We’re Living in a World Where Trust is on Assault’ in Cannes Statement

Jeremy Strong, who plays the vicious lawyer Roy Cohn in Ali Abbasi’s “The Apprentice,” was unable to attend the film’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday night because of commitments on Broadway. But the “Succession” actor sent a written statement excoriating Trump and Cohn, which Abbasi read at Cannes on Tuesday.

“I deeply wish I could be there with you right now, but I’m onstage in New York doing Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘An Enemy of the People,'” Strong explained in the statement. “Enemy of the people is a phrase used by Stalin, Mao… and most recently Donald Trump, who denounces the free press and calls CNN fake news media.

“We’re living in a world where truth is on assault,” he continued. “In America, that assault began (with) Donald Trump’s apprenticeship under Roy Cohn.

“In this perilous moment in history we are experiencing Cohn’s dark shadow — his legacy of lies, of outright denialism, has reached a terrible fruition. Ali Abassi has made a master movie where one gets the other. It’s an attempt to understand, in the words of the 11th century poet Omar Khayyám — ‘yesterday this day’s madness did prepare.'”

The full passage from Khayyám’s poem “The Rubáiyát” reads, “Yesterday this day’s madness did prepare/Tomorrow’s silence, triumph, or despair/Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why/Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.”

Despite his role as the chief prosecutor in the McCarthy trials, Cohn is still best known for his remarkable friendship with Trump. Often blasted as a hypocrite (Cohn was a gay man who prosecuted other gay men and ran them out of their jobs), he died of AIDS in 1986 after publicly denying he was gay and insisting he had liver cancer.

Cohn and Trump crossed paths in the 1970s after the U.S. government sued Trump and his father for discriminating against Black renters of apartments they owned. Cohn encouraged Trump to countersue the Justice Department, and the case was ultimately settled.

A 2016 piece by the Washington Post said Cohn is the man who taught Trump how to “exploit power and instill fear,” two skills it’s difficult to deny that Trump has continued to hone to this day.

Though Strong doesn’t strongly resemble Cohn, he expertly captured the man’s “morally vacant” look, according to TheWrap’s review of “The Apprentice.”

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