When filmmaker Michael Moore first met Donald Trump back in 1998, the two were sitting at Tavern on the Green in New York City, alongside Roseanne Barr, for an appearance on her ABC talk show The Roseanne Show.
“We didn’t know each other was going to be on the show, and when he saw that I was there, he got up to leave,” Moore recalled to The Hollywood Reporter.
Trump had released his infamous book The Art of the Deal while Moore earned a reputation for going after big businesses, thanks to his documentary Roger & Me.
“The producer of the show came to me and said, ‘Can you convince him to stay, please? Just tell him you will be nice to him, you’re not going to bring up his bankruptcy or that shady dealing of him,’” Moore explained.
“I felt bad...so I went over to him and said, ‘They told me you’re worried. I just want you to know that you don’t have to worry. Nothing’s going to happen, I promise.’ So, he stayed and we did the show and I did not bring up anything political or financial that would have upset him.”
While the interview went smoothly, it wasn’t until the Fahrenheit 11/9 filmmaker first saw Trump campaigning for president years later that he realized, “I’d been played.”
“This is how it’s worked his whole life. He knows just how to create the environment, how to create the situation to where I’m going to feel bad because he feels bad and Roseanne’s not going to have her show, so I’m going to make this work, and he manipulated the whole situation. I realized then that this guy is no dummy. This guy is not stupid. He is truly one of the great performance artists of our time,” he said.
Moore also cleared up one rumor involving Trump and himself: “He has told Fox News that he and I have had dinner a couple of times. I have not had dinner with him. I gave up KFC a long time ago.”