The most important thoughts from Stephen K. Bannon, the incoming chief strategist in the Donald Trump White House, that you’ll read this weekend aren’t his thoughts on the economy or foreign policy. Instead, we look back to the ’90s, when the then-right-wing-filmmaker (who would eventually came to be adored by white supremacists as the head of the far-right website Breitbart, and then as Trump’s campaign “CEO”) penned a cinematic Shakespearean sex scene set in a warring outer-space world.
As The Daily Beast reported in August, Bannon (who, long before becoming the head of Trump’s presidential campaign, had a history as a conservative filmmaker openly and deeply influenced by Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl) used to have a taste for adapting works of William Shakespeare. He spent years writing scripts and pitches for film and TV with his longtime Hollywood writing partner, Julia Jones, a flaming liberal who has become “disgusted” with her former close friend and colleague.
For instance, Bannon and Jones once wrote a Shakespearean hip-hop musical about the 1992 Los Angeles riots. This unproduced script, a copy of which was first shared with The Daily Beast over the summer, adapted Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, based on the life of the Roman leader Caius Marcius Coriolanus. “Make a rap film out of it set in South Central during the L.A. riots—that was Steve’s idea,” Jones said.
In August, Jones also told The Daily Beast about another screenplay that the creative duo had penned together: a new, silver-screen vision of Shakespeare’s brutal and blood-drenched tragedy Titus Andronicus. Jones recalled that she pitched setting their adaptation “on the moon with creatures from outer space.” Bannon was apparently so thoroughly taken by the premise of intergalactic carnage that “that’s what sold him on” her as his writing partner. (Bannon would later co-executive produce Titus, the 1999 thriller and Shakespeare adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins. This one had nothing to do with Jones, and was not set in outer space with scary moon-monsters.)
Earlier this week, The Paris Review reported on this script—working title: “Andronicus”—and chatted with Jones about it, highlighted a few excerpts, and discussed Bannon’s “obsession with Shakespeare’s goriest play.” (Nothing much ever became of the script, except being added to the Bannon-Jones files.)
Both Bannon and his boss, soon-to-be leader of the free world Donald J. Trump, have colorful histories involving Hollywood and the film industry. Because of this, we know things about their respective creative processes that we might not know about your average politician or political operative. (Living exceptions to this rule include Democratic congressman Steve Israel, who has written about “fleshy breasts,” and Jim Webb who was accused of writing inappropriate, graphic sex scenes and misogynistic language into his works of fiction.)
For example, we know what kind of acting choices Trump would make if he starred in, say, a romantic comedy about a horny ghost—because Trump has in fact acted in such a movie. He even won an award for “Worst Supporting Actor” for it!
And, thanks to Bannon’s years as a wannabe Hollywood writer/director, we know how the incoming White House chief strategist would craft a steamy, intergalactic sex scene with Shakespearean themes.
In a copy of “Andronicus” provided to The Daily Beast by Jones, there’s a lot of politics, vengeance, warfare, and melodrama.
It also has its tender moments. Below is a sensual taste from page 51 and 52 of the script (it’s 102 in total). It’s a scene that takes place shortly after the dramatic scene of “Saturnius’s guards, heavily armed, descend ominously, bearing torches, their heavy boots sounding on the stone floors.”
In the following scene, readers will find Attava, a space queen, gaining carnal knowledge of Aaron, a “Lower Human” who is half-alien, half-human, according to the screenplay.
INT. ATTAVA‘S PALACE CHAMBER—NIGHT
A roaring fire, wine, silver goblets, a deep canopy bed.
Attava has been well provided for.
OUTSIDE, IN A DRAUGHTY CORRIDOR
Aaron leans like a shadow into the doorway. He knocks.
Attava approaches. Her dressing gown gapes open, revealing her breasts. She opens the door. Aaron enters, closing it behind him and leans against it, arms folded across his chest.
AARON I’m glad you called.
He grabs her. She leads him to the bed and pulls him down; laughing softly, she unwraps her gown.
ATTAVA Everything is always so… physical
He climbs onto her and their forms dissolve, blend and blur in an erotic scene of ectoplasmic sex.
A FEW DAYS LATER [at preparation for a “king’s wedding.”]
“I guess we were trying to do Star Wars,” Jones told The Daily Beast, discussing how the two worked closely together on this project, and that Bannon was a fan of the script. “A battle takes place on Mars, then Andronicus goes to Earth which is his undoing,” she continued, recapping.
Jones characterizes the dialogue as cheesy, and the screenplay an “embarrassing” relic from her and Bannon’s earliest days collaborating in the movie business.
Nowadays, Jones, based in Massachusetts, is still working on her movie projects, and describes herself as a proud “Bernie Sanders liberal.” Her ex-partner, however, is about to become one of the most powerful people in the world, working in the Republican administration fueled by a “radical fringe” in American politics and pushing “racist ideas,” Jones says.
“My fear of him being involved with Trump is knowing how effective he is,” Jones told The Daily Beast in late August. “If anyone can pull this off, it’s Steve Bannon.”
And, much to her own dismay, she was right.