Months before Donald Trump was elected president, Matthew Vaughn decided to cut out a few references to the then-candidate for high office in his script for Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The director had done a bit of reading into the tea leaves and determined that it was essentially “too soon” to joke about the potential commander-in-chief, and also potentially too divisive for audiences. “I think America’s going through a pretty interesting and rough ride at the moment and I wanted this movie to be escapism,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “And that means not suddenly have half the audience going, ‘That’s not cool, that’s not funny!’ as the other half is cheering.”
So what got left on the cutting-room floor? Julianne Moore’s villainous Poppy apparently expressed her desire to become host of The Apprentice, and the appearance of the Oval Office in the movie was at first imagined as a Trumped-out set piece laden with gold. “This was in May of 2016 and then I had an inkling,” Vaughn recalled. “I remember saying to my American production designer, ‘Trump might win, you know? Would this be as funny if Trump won?’ And he was like, ‘Trump will never win.’ And I said, ‘You know what, I have a weird feeling he might. So let’s build a normal Oval Office and scrap the Trump version.’” So Golden Circle opted out of having a golden White House, and that production designer later called Vaughn “virtually crying” to say, “I shouldn’t have laughed at you. This is my karma for laughing.” Now we really know whom to blame.