The new Tom Cruise movie American Made cut out two scenes involving Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush because the studio wanted to avoid getting too political, and we’re now learning what exactly those scenes consisted of.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, American Made originally featured a scene where a young Bill Clinton is seen in an Arkansas strip club getting a lap dance. Another cut scene involved George H.W. Bush, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, it would have placed Bush in the room with Barry Seal, therefore implicating the president in an illegal scheme.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the Bill Clinton lap dance scene was cut because Cross Creek Pictures did not want American Made to get too political. The George H.W. Bush scene may have been cut for a similar reason, though The Hollywood Reporter speculates that it could also be because the studio feared legal action. The finished movie does depict real-life former National Security Council staff member Oliver North as a criminal, but this is less risky since he was in fact convicted in the Iran-Contra affair.
Bill Clinton does have a presence in American Made, but he’s not shown on screen. Instead, we learn that he made a phone call that leads to Barry Seal being released from custody. A young George W. Bush does also show up, which the director says was his way of referencing the conspiracy theories about Barry Seal and George H.W. Bush’s relationship.
“I just wanted to put a little fun thing between Barry and George W. Bush to just sort of say, ‘We’re not ignorant of those allegations,'” director Doug Liman told BuzzFeed. “‘We’re not going to put them in the movie, but we’re not making this movie in a vacuum, either.'”
This is the second movie released this month which made some edits as to avoid getting political. Last week’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle originally had two references to Donald Trump, but director Matthew Vaughn removed them because he wanted the film to serve as an escape and didn’t want to remind people of the real world.
“I think America’s going through a pretty interesting and rough ride at the moment and I wanted this movie to be escapism,” Vaughn said. “And that means not suddenly have half the audience going, ‘That’s not cool, that’s not funny!’ as the other half is cheering.”
In the case of American Made, though, the film is based on the true story of Barry Seal, a Trans World Airlines pilot who became a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel and then became a DEA informant. It is now playing in theaters nationwide.