The Tom Cruise true-life CIA action drama American Made reportedly cut a scene showing a pre-White House Bill Clinton receiving a lap dance at an Arkansas strip club. The well-reviewed American Made came out this weekend, sans the inflammatory depiction of Bill Clinton's nocturnal activities, and has performed above expectations at the box office, running in a tight race with Kingsman 2 and IT for the top spot.
American Made stars Tom Cruise as real-life former operative Barry Seal, a one-time commercial airline pilot who in the early '70s was recruited by the CIA to fly secret missions over Latin America, eventually becoming a courier to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and later a gun-runner to the US-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The film charts Seal's career as he becomes more-and-more deeply involved in illegal activities on multiple sides, and in the process runs afoul of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel.
Writer Gary Spinelli scripted American Made based on a multitude of different stories, some of which are considered wild legends, including a tale about Seal encountering then-governor Bill Clinton at an Arkansas strip club and hatching a scheme to get Clinton involved in his CIA-supported drug-smuggling, gun-running and money-laundering activities. Ultimately, director Doug Liman and Cross Creek Pictures elected to cut the scene featuring Clinton receiving a lap dance on the night he was approached by Seal, reports THR.
Clinton is still referenced in the film when he uses his powers to get Seal free when it looks like the CIA is closing in, but the history of the pair's relationship is unclear. Another scene that was cut from the script implicated former president George H.W. Bush in the notorious Iran-Contra affair, which happened while Bush was VP under Ronald Reagan and ultimately led to the conviction of Lt. Col. Oliver North (the convictions were later vacated). Though many in the Reagan administration publicly acknowledged their parts in the Iran-Contra scandal, Bush notably claimed to have been totally out of the loop and remained politically unstained, going on to win the presidency.
Sources told THR that the scenes involving Clinton and Bush were cut by Cross Creek pictures and director Doug Liman to keep the film from becoming too overtly political, though concerns about the potential for lawsuits by still-living figures likely also played a part. The desire to avoid going too heavily into politics on American Made was also alluded to by actor Domhnall Gleeson when he spoke to Screen Rant about his character, CIA operative Monty Schafer, the one who recruits Seal and dreams up many of the story's wild schemes. The film ends with Schafer suggesting yet another crazy idea and in his interview Gleeson talked about improvising the film's final line and how it spoke to his character's non-political motivations:
"I don’t think it was always in the script. We had talked for so long about what this guy wanted and how what he wanted was nothing to do with politics, it was just to do with self-improv… not self-improvement in a good way – just getting up the ladder. And so on how far those consequences can fall for other people, and how he doesn’t care. And so that last line came about through all those conversations. It would have been Gary [Spinelli], the writer and Doug, and Tom would have been involved as well. That was a fun one, because I didn’t think it would make it, and I’m so glad it ended up in there."
Liman and company apparently made the right decision to downplay politics and focus on the characters' other ambitions, as their movie has scored with critics and appears to be doing well with audiences. American Made is turning out to be one of the best-received Tom Cruise vehicles in many a year, which is good news for the actor after the relatively soft domestic returns for Jack Reacher 2 and The Mummy.
- American Made (2017) release date: Sep 29, 2017