Home Culture Culture Lists

10 Movie Characters ‘Inspired’ by Donald Trump

Never mind Biff from ‘Back to the Future’ — here are a few other famous Trump-like film roles

John Huston, Michael Douglas and Willem Dafoe

Everett (3)

We had 30 years to prepare for 'Back to the Future Day,' but that doesn't mean that it wasn't still full of surprises. Of all of yesterday's crazy factoids and trivia-based tidbits, perhaps the most profound revelation was: Biff, the mouth-breathing cretin who bullies Marty McFly across several leaps in space-time, was explicitly inspired by Donald Trump (and not the other way around, as we had always assumed).

In an interview with The Daily Beast, screenwriter Bob Gale set the record straight: "We thought about [Trump] when we made the movie! Are you kidding?" Gale then pointed to the Back to the Future Part II scene in which Biff, having leveraged the profits from his casino empire into a misbegotten political career, stands in his office and assumes the same pose he did in the massive portrait that hangs on the wall behind him.

William Randolph Hearst served as the model for Charles Foster Kane.
 The basis for Llewyn Davis was folk musician Dave Van Ronk. Karl Rove clearly inspired the titular character in The Babadook. And now we finally know that Biff Tannen was indeed made possible thanks to the Man With the Hair Who Would Be President.

In light of this new information, it's probably only a matter of time before Trump decides to sue everyone involved in the trilogy, but let's be honest: Biff isn't the only famous movie character that's gleaned a thing or two from the Donald, a font of creative inspiration who has given more to America's screenwriters than he ever will to America's middle-class. Here are 10 characters from film history who either took their cues from the Republican Party's loudest candidate, or we're almost 100-percent sure shaped him into the man we currently know and love.

mr. burns

THE SIMPSONS: Mr. Burns gives his employees high-tech eyeglasses in order to spy on them in the "Specs and the City" episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)


Montgomery Burns, ‘The Simpsons Movie’ (2007)

Eccentric Springfield billionaire Charles Montgomery Burns owes most of his image to icons of old money like John D. Rockefeller, but Trump was already a household brand by the time The Simpsons debuted in 1989, and his lack of self-awareness naturally seeped into the personality of Springfield's most flamboyant tycoon.

Smithers: "Sir, the people kind of see you as an ogre…"
Mr. Burns: "I ought to club them and eat their bones!"

In fact, it's so difficult to distinguish between Donald Trump and Mr. Burns that an entire website has been devoted to testing whether people can correctly attribute quotes from the two men. It's deviously hard.

Regrettably, Mr. Burns didn't have all that much to do in The Simpsons Movie, but — in the spirit of Donald Trump — we've decided to just sort of ignore the rules of this list whenever it's convenient.

gert frobe

Villain Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) laughs as British agent James Bond (Sean Connery) lies strapped to a table beneath a laser weapon in a still from the film, 'Goldfinger,' directed by Guy Hamilton, 1964. (Photo by United Artists/Courtesy of Getty Images)

United Artists/Getty

Auric Goldfinger, ‘Goldfinger’ (1964)

The similarities between the two men are uncanny. Goldfinger is a fictional character, and Trump often seems like one. The Bond villian is an outspoken racist who exploits immigrant labor (dispatching his loyal Korean manservant Oddjob to do all of his dirty work), and Trump is…well, he's Donald Trump. Goldfinger has Fort Knox and Pussy Galore; Trump has Atlantic City and the Miss America pageant. One had to have his voice dubbed because the actor who played him didn't speak English, and the other doesn't understand most of the words that come out of his mouth.

ben kingsley

SELF/LESS, (aka SELFLESS), Ben Kingsley, 2015. ph: Hilary Bronwyn Gale / © Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection

Focus Features/Everett

Damian Hale, ‘Self/Less’ (2015)

Few people bothered to see this reincarnation stinker when it opened earlier this year, but the masses missed out on the best Trump impression this side of Saturday Night Live. Ben Kingsley is real-estate tycoon Damian Hale, known as "The Man Who Built New York" — a terminally ill egotist whose power is only matched by his denial of his imminent death. Hale may be bald, but the allusions to Trump are neither subtle nor flattering: For one thing, the character's home is played by Trump Tower. For another, there's Kingsley's accent; the venerated actor has an undying affinity for putting on a voice (remember when he played a Czechoslovakian carny in The Walk?), but his take on this one-percenter sounds eerily Trump-esque.


THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, Smaug (voice: Benedict Cumberbatch), 2014. /©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

©Warner Bros./Everett

Smaug, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (2013)

A legendary beast who first introduced the concept of tackiness to the fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, this dragon lives atop an infinite pile of money in the Laketown equivalent of Trump Tower, and is referred to as the "chiefest and greatest of calamities," which was rumored to be Trump's campaign slogan before he switched to "Make America Great Again" at the last second.

Smaug is obsessed with talking about how rich he is; he's outwitted by even the most innocent-looking person he talks to; and when he sees people who don't look like him, he says things like: "You seem familiar with my name but I don't remember smelling your kind before." We'll have to check the tape, but we think that might be a verbatim quote from Trump's recent tour of the Mexico-America border. If you're reading this, Hillary — aim for the weak spot on his belly.

The Incredibles, Syndrome


Syndrome, ‘The Incredibles’ (2004)

Brad Bird supposedly modeled the villain of The Incredibles after himself, but the giddy evil mastermind — who has more money than he could possibly spend in a lifetime, yet still feels compelled to murder the city's unregistered citizens — has certainly watched his share of The Apprentice. (Not to mention that Mirage, Syndrome's assistant, bears a striking similarity to Ivanka Trump.) So far as we can tell, the biggest difference between Donald Trump and Syndrome is hair gel. Lots and lots of hair gel.

Billy Zane

TITANIC US 1997 BILLY ZANE Date 1997, Photo by: Mary Evans/20TH CENTURY FOX/PARAMOUNT PICTURES/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection(10344734)


‘Cal’ Hockley, ‘Titanic’ (1997)

Immortally portrayed by Billy Zane, Caledon "Cal" Hockley is the heir to a Pittsburgh steel fortune — part businessman, part high school quarterback, and stiffer than Trump's immigration policies all the way through. He has a nasty habit of losing the things most precious to him because of his wanton indifference towards the women of the world, whom he sees only for what they have to offer him. (Draw your own conclusions.)

And like Trump, who sold his yacht (the endearingly named "Trump Princess") in 1991 when he hit financial straits, Hockley never had much luck with boats. "You can be blasé about some things, Rose," he mansplains to his fiancée, "but not about Titanic. It's over one hundred feet longer than the Mauritania and far more luxurious." We get it: It's huge. It's the greatest ship of all time. Everyone who's not on this unsinkable floating palace is a loser!

MIchael Douglas

WALL STREET, Michael Douglas, 1987, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection


Gordon Gekko, ‘Wall Street’ (1987)

Oliver Stone's drama about financial bigwigs run amuck debuted in 1987, the same year that Trump unloosed his magnum opus, The Art of the Deal. A work of historical fiction disguised as a self-help book, the book recast the author as a stock-market Sun Tzu, and its success prompted him to extend a flair for fiction into the real world. Gordon Gekko distilled Trump’s entire ethos into one simple phrase that has resounded with him ever since: "Greed is good." Not even Oliver Stone could make a film long enough to show just how far those three words have taken Trump.

John Huston

CHINATOWN, from left: John Huston, Jack Nicholson, 1974, chinatown1974-fsct08, Photo by: Everett Collection (chinatown1974-fsct08)


Noah Cross, ‘Chinatown’ (1974)

John Huston's nefarious noir mastermind made a name for himself by trying to annex and irrigate Los Angeles' Northwest Valley. California just happens to be suffering a severe drought during his Presidential run, and regarding some of the other unpleasant things we learn about this character, we should mention that Trump did once say that his daughter Ivanka has "A very nice figure," and "I've said that if she weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her" (the best/creepiest part about that sentence being the insinuation that he says shit like this all the time). Cross may be too old to have been inspired by Trump, but there's a pretty good chance that Trump sees him as Chinatown's true hero.

Dennis Hopper, super mario

SUPER MARIO BROTHERS, Dennis Hopper, 1993, (c)Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection


King Koopa, ‘Super Mario Bros.’ (1993)

A germaphobic lizard person who plasters his name across every inch of available real estate in the world's most vital metropolis — Donald Trump was clearly on the writers' minds when this big-screen take on the popular Nintendo game franchise was being penned. Played by the great Dennis Hopper, who looked alarmingly similar to Trump even before they fitted the actor with a waxy blonde wig, Koopa amasses an army of "loyal, lethal, and stupid" supporters (known as Goombas) in his bid to extend his rule beyond Dinohattan and into another dimension entirely. [Ahem] Even the filmmakers couldn't have foreseen how Koopa's ambition would eventually inspire Trump to migrate his success from the private sector to the political arena. Although Koopa's master plan involved making his followers more intelligent, so… yeah.

District 9, Sharlto Copley

DISTRICT 9, Sharlto Copley, 2009. Ph: David Bloomer/©Sony Pictures Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection


Wikus van de Merwe, ‘District 9’ (2009)

Sharlto Copley's South African bureaucrat gets the opportunity of a lifetime when a spaceship full of aliens breaks down above Johannesburg and he's put in charge of forcibly relocating them. If filmmaker Neill Blomkamp didn't have Trump in mind when he wrote this modern sci-fi satire (the film came out in 2009, before Trump had heard of Mexicans), he was certainly thinking of people like him — men who see a humanitarian crisis as a political opportunity. We have a feeling that Trump's campaign won't end in the same way that Wikus' did, but man…that would be amazing.