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At one point the conversation turns to Moses Randolph, a character in the movie loosely based on Robert Moses, the notorious “master builder’ of mid-century New York whose creation of the suburbs amounted to a form of social cleansing.
Moses is played by a bullish Alec Baldwin, who frequently impersonates Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Comparisons between Moses and the United States president come up and so Yorke and Norton discuss.
“I finished writing the script in 2012, when the insane clown was still a gameshow host,” Norton tells The Guardian. “No one was paying any attention to him then. But then obviously, later on, the resonance increased. So yeah, there are a few signposts there, a few little arrows. But only up to a point.”
Yorke heaves a heavy sigh and adds: “Trump’s going to be gone soon anyway. He’s going to be history. The real question is why we keep producing people like Trump.”
“I’d go further,” chips in Norton. “The really dangerous people are the ones you can’t see. Trump is someone else’s puppet. It’s the people in the shadows you have to worry about.”
Yorke names Robert Mercer, the American computer scientist who played a key role in the campaign for the UK to leave the EU. Norton mentions the Koch Brothers, the billionaire business owners who founded a political network of libertarian-conservative donors.
Elsewhere in the interview, Norton explains how Yorke came to be involved in Motherless Brooklyn.
Wanting his character Lionel Essrog to have a song, the Oscar-winning actor says he was thinking of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’. “It’s the most mournful of songs but it’s also political, it’s about living in dark times. And I thought: ‘Well, you know, Thom is my Billie Holiday.’”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Yorke says. “I mean yes, ‘Strange Fruit’ is like the ultimate song for me.”
Speaking to the New York Times, Yorke revealed the difficulties he faced in the aftermath of losing his former partner, Rachel Owen, who died from cancer in 2016 aged 48. Prior to separating in 2015, the pair had two children together and were partners for 23 years.