Ike Barinholtz understands the rage actors feel from Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.
The star of “Blockers” and “The Mindy Project” says there are much better ways for his fellow liberals to show it than sinking to the President’s rhetorical level. Or worse.
Just recall Robert De Niro cursing Trump out during the recent Tony Awards presentations as one glaring example, or the number of stars craving the real estate mogul's death.
Barinholtz’s response to the Age of Trump? He wrote, directed and starred in “The Oath,” a coal black comedy about the partisan divide in our nation. The film follows a liberal couple who invite their conservative family members over for Thanksgiving. The visit coincides with the president’s “loyalty oath,” a voluntary measure which offers tax benefits for citizens who sign on the dotted line.
The strings attached to the titular oath, though, make political disagreements look like child’s play in comparison.
You won’t hear the name Trump dropped once during a film focused on government overreach. Barinholtz says he didn’t have to name check the 45th president to get his points across.
“I feel like the audience will make the connection very easily,” he says. “The Oath,” as he imagines it, “presents a satirical version of America, pointing out the craziness of our addiction to the news cycle, and poking fun at the state of the nation. Without specifically saying, ‘this is President Trump’ we can have our cake and eat it, too.”
Barinholtz plays Chris in the film, a news-obsessed liberal who rails against the proposed “Oath.”
The comic actor followed the “write what you know” saw for his directorial debut, down to casting Tiffany Haddish as Chris’ sensible wife. The two aren’t married off-screen, but Barinholtz based Haddish’s reassuring presence on his own bride.
“We’re both very politically aligned. I'm much more passionate about it. She’s more stayed and reserved,” he says. You can see the former on his Twitter account, which routinely rails against both Trump and the modern GOP.
It’s one way he says the production left an imprint on him.
“It did allow me to recognize I had a bit of a problem,” he says. “I was perpetually glued [to my smart phone] like my character.” He’s all for being an informed citizen, but the lure of social media updates overwhelmed him at times. “I wasn't watching TV and going to the movies and working out ... you can’t let the news cycle take away those things,” he says.
Barinholtz is a comic actor by trade, but he found inspiration for “The Oath” in the films made during the 1970s. The era, responding to both Watergate and Vietnam, churned out stories that spoke to our collective unrest.
It’s what he tried to do with “The Oath.”
“First and foremost we have to entertain people. I’m not a documentarian,” he says.
Barinholtz believes no matter how many sharp elbows Hollywood throws against Trump it won’t chase undecideds to the Trump camp.
“I do not buy in any way, shape or form this thought that bad behavior by liberals would push people to Trump,” he says.
The country will see if he’s right in just a few short weeks.