How Donald Trump’s Kids Inspired a Character in ‘The Invisible Man’

The Invisible Man is a remake of the 1933 Universal monster movie starring Claude Raines. It is totally different except for the fact that it involves an invisible man committing murders. It can also claim to base a character on Donald Trump’s sons Eric and Donald, Jr. The original can’t claim that. 

The Invisible Man: Elisabeth Moss
Elisabeth Moss | Universal Pictures

Writer/director Leigh Whannell spoke at a Q&A following a screening of The Invisible Man. He described how he created the new characters in The Invisible Man and which one is based on the Trump kids. The Invisible Man is now playing in theaters.

The Invisible Man plays second fiddle to Donald Trump’s kids

The star of The Invisible Man is not the man. After all, you don’t even see him. He’s not the one Whannell based on the Trumps, but first it was important to reconfigure the title character as a threat to the main characters.

The Invisible Man: Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Oliver Jackson-Cohen | Universal Pictures

“I felt like to make it scary for a modern audience, The Invisible Man could not be the central character for me,” Whannell said. “Maybe someone else could have written that film and make it scary. It just demystifies it a little bit. I think there was a mystery to these monsters originally, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, Invisible Man. They were a bit unknowable when they first first met people’s eyes. I think now they’re so known that to make it scary for me, I had to make him unknown again.” 

The Invisible Man’s brother is based on Donald Trump’s son

In Whannell’s Invisible Man, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is an optics scientist who invents invisibility. He uses it to terrorize his ex-girlfriend, Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) who escaped their abusive relationship. Adrian uses his brother Tom (Michael Dorman) to be his visible cohort.

Donald Trump sons Eric and Donald Jr.
(L-R) Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump| Phillip Chin/Getty Images for Trump International

“Michael Dorman who played the brother, he just had a great time playing a pr*ck,” Whannell said. “I love giving actors homework. I would make him watch all these videos, YouTube videos of certain people. I made him watch a lot of videos of Trump’s kids, the brothers. Just to say there’s a false confidence here with this guy, Michael. He would watch and he’d be like ‘I got it.’”

Elisabeth Moss is our heroine

Behind every Invisible Man there’s a visible woman. Moss is responsible for making a lot of the invisible scares work. Yes, she has the help of visual effects, but you have to believe she believes there’s an invisible man terrorizing her.

“It’s a pretty short list of actors who can carry a whole movie like this. I think in a horror movie or a thriller where someone has to really dive off the cliff of sanity, I think that it’s really easy to go into histrionics, for it to be over the top. I thought Toni Collette was incredible in Hereditary just at conveying true grief and just doing it in such an authentic way. I think the margin between it being underplayed and over the top is razor thin. I think Elisabeth Moss is capable of it so someone at universal suggested her.”

Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man Q&A, 2/24/2020

Moss was already in the Universal family.

“[Producer] Donna Langley who had just done UsI’m a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men – as soon as Donna suggested Wlisabeth I was thinking yeah, I want to see that version of the film. I want to see the Elisabeth Moss version of this movie. We sent her the script and pretty quickly had an awkward phone call where I was driving and the reception was bad and I couldn’t hear her. But I heard enough to know that she wanted to do it.”