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Ike Barinholtz’s feature directorial debut The Oath may be set in the near future, but as he tells The Hollywood Reporter In Studio, the concept of the film is all thanks to the 2016 presidential election.
The Oath centers on married couple Chris (Barinholtz) and Kai (Tiffany Haddish) who learn that citizens are being asked to sign a loyalty oath to the President, with a Black Friday deadline. As if the pressure of family gatherings wasn’t enough, the couple’s tense Thanksgiving dinner quickly goes off the rails with a “looming government crisis.”
Barinholtz, who also wrote the film, developed the idea after a heated argument with his own family at Thanksgiving following President Trump’s election.
“My whole family comes to my house for Thanksgiving and after dinner, my mom, my brother and I had a few drinks and we got into a pretty big fight about the election,” he explained.
“But that made me think about what’s going on at other tables around the country and as I started talking to friends of mine who had gone home to various states, I knew that the landscape of the holiday table in America was forever changed and I knew that you could get a lot of laughs out of that claustrophobic feeling of being at the house when the family’s there, but I wanted to make it bigger and blow it up, so we added this looming government crisis,” he told THR.
He joked: “So I really have to give credit to the 2016 election. At least it was good for something. For me.”
Barinholtz also discussed the moment he knew he wanted Haddish to star alongside him in the film. “I first saw her in the movie Keanu. I remember seeing her and being like, ‘I want to be married to her.’”
“I was so struck by her authenticity and her toughness and she’s just real,” he added. “As I started breaking the story of The Oath and I knew that the center of it was going to be this husband and wife, I right away thought of Tiffany and I really had her face in my brain on every key that I typed.”
Watch the video above to hear Barinholtz also discuss how he thinks people have changed since the election, what real-life events inspired the movie and more.
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