Celebrity feuds happen all the time. But whenever the president of the United States is involved, people definitely take more notice. In this case, the term “feud” might be a bit of a stretch. However, Donald Trump‘s tweet caught the attention of one of cinema history’s most memorable fictional presidents. Here’s what happened between Trump and actor Bill Pullman.
‘Independence Day’ was one of the biggest box office hits of the 1990s
Pullman has appeared in a ton of movies and TV shows since the mid-1980s. Notably, he played Lone Starr in Mel Brooks’ Star Wars parody Spaceballs in one of his first roles. And he’s starred in 1990s blockbuster hits like Sleepless in Seattle, Casper, and While You Were Sleeping. But one movie easily stands out as his most popular, even decades after its release.
In 1996, Pullman played President Thomas J. Whitmore in director Roland Emmerich’s alien invasion smash Independence Day. The movie wasn’t just a hit; it was a phenomenon. Emmerich’s film earned more than $300 million domestically and $800 million worldwide at the box office. That number placed it among the biggest all-time earners, such as Jurassic Park.
Yet, for a variety of reasons, the movie — which cemented Will Smith as a big-budget leading man — didn’t get a sequel until 20 years later. By the time it did hit, the Smith-less Independence Day: Resurgence proved to be too little too late. Pullman reprised his role, as did a few other actors. The magic was gone, but nostalgia continues to shine bright on the original film.
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Bill Pullman’s inspirational speech remains an iconic movie moment
In fact, Independence Day remains such a favorite among moviegoers because of Pullman’s character. One of the most popular fictional presidents, Whitmore provides strong leadership during the aliens’ siege of Earth. Even after the First Lady is killed in one of the attacks, he persists in the face of ultimate adversity.
Throughout the film, the United States leads an investigation into how its military can stand a chance against this extra-terrestrial threat. And just before the counter-attack kicks off, Whitmore launches into an inspirational speech to rally the troops. He describes how July 4 — the date of the attack — will no longer be an American holiday but for all humanity.
As David Arnold’s score swells, the stirring moment sets the tone for mankind’s triumph over its attackers. In the years since Independence Day hit theaters, Pullman’s speech emerged as perhaps the most memorable scene in the movie. So the actor had something to say when Trump co-opted it for one of his tweets.
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Donald Trump retweeted his own version, and Pullman responded
On May 16, 2020, Trump retweeted a video which superimposes his face over Pullman’s in that famous Independence Day scene. The audio remains true to the actor’s performance, though some of the faces in the crowd are replaced. Trump presented the video with no additional commentary to lend greater context to his post, however.
The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Pullman for comment, and the actor had the perfect response.
“My voice belongs to no one but me, and I’m not running for president — this year,” Pullman told THR regarding Trump’s post.
Two of Pullman’s co-stars, Vivica A. Fox and Randy Quaid, also shared their thoughts on Trump’s post via social media. Fox — who played Smith’s love interest in the movie — expressed her disapproval and anger over the tweet. Meanwhile, Quaid drew parallels between the success of Independence Day and Trump’s own rallies.
Certainly, Independence Day fans will have their own opinions on whether Trump’s retweet was a compliment or an insult. In either case, both sides can agree it’s a good excuse to rewatch the classic movie again soon.
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