TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE

When Donald Trump Joined Forces with Darth Vader

To watch it now is truly surreal.

BusinessWire/NBC Universal

A wee Grand Jedi Master once cautioned, “Beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression: The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight.”

And few public figures, with the notable exception of accused sexual predator and all-around prick Harvey Weinstein, have a capacity for anger and aggression quite like that of Donald J. Trump.

Whether it be punctuation-heavy Twitter tirades, occasionally coated in rank sexism, or volcanic outbursts at underlings—“Multiple men of distinction, with long careers in public service, say the dressings-down that have sprung from [President] Trump’s lips are the most demeaning they’ve enduring in their adult lives,” reported CNN—few have escaped The Donald’s wrath. His own ex-wife once accused him of a violent rape, saying he lashed out at her over an alleged scalp reduction surgery gone awry, while a former dorm-mate of Donald Trump Jr.’s recalled witnessing the elder Trump slapping the crap out of his son in front of a gaggle of his fellow college freshmen.

Very un-Jedi.

Which brings us to Donald Trump’s affiliation with Darth Vader. You see, prior to his stint as a rage-harnessing populist politician, Trump served as host of NBC’s The Apprentice—a reality-competition show that was not nearly as popular as he thinks it was. On the series, which was followed by its even less popular spin-off, Celebrity Apprentice, Trump subjected his contestants to a parade of indignities. According to staffers, he mocked the Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin for being deaf; repeatedly referred to the rapper Lil Jon as an “Uncle Tom”; laughed when a female employee presented him with a groping allegation by Gary Busey; and subjected former Playboy model Brande Roderick to a near-constant string of sexual harassment, complete with marriage proposals, while married to Melania.

He also fired Chewbacca.

On Nov. 10, 2005, NBC aired a special Star Wars-themed episode of The Apprentice. During the episode, which was made with the full cooperation of Lucasfilm, contestants were tasked with creating eye-catching store displays for both the DVD launch of Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith, the last of George Lucas’ regrettable Star Wars prequels, and the video game Star Wars: Battlefront II. The winning team’s marketing materials would subsequently be featured in Best Buy stores across America.

Star Wars: Episode III is the biggest movie of the year and broke box-office records. It’s the DVD event of the year, and the candidates really have their work cut out for them making sure they please the creators of the most successful entertainment franchise of all time,” Trump said in a prepared statement at the time, adding, “When someone gets fired in this episode, it’s for very good reason.”

“We needed to create a massive retail event for the combined release of Episode III and Battlefront II, so we wanted to work with someone who really understands how to create excitement and generate interest—and who could be better than Donald Trump and some of the best young business minds in America?” added Jim Ward, senior vice president of Lucasfilm.

But before the deliberations, the show aired a segment of Trump in the boardroom, flanked by two other judges: George H. Ross, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, and… Darth Vader. Across the table? Five stormtroopers.

“Squashing the Rebellion is a $32 billion industry, so this next task is really going to be fantastic. You will be judged by these two executives, and based on their report, one of you will be fired,” offers Trump. After Vader whispers in his ear, he adds, “And sliced into tiny pieces by a lightsaber,” before telling the baddie, “I like your style.”

Trump is not done, of course. He has his own proposal for Vader, boasting it to be “the biggest, the best, absolutely the most technologically sophisticated battle station ever, in the entire galaxy”: the Trump Death Star.

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But wait, there’s more. The skit also has Vader teaching Trump to Force-choke stormtroopers in lieu of his customary point-and-fire—he obliges, naturally—and Trump chewing the hell out of Chewie before sending him packing.

“I’m sorry, but you made this easy: No one can understand a word you say, you’ve got a terrible temper, and let’s face it, your grooming habits are seriously lacking. I just have to say: Chewbacca, you’re fired.”

Poor Chewie lets out a wookie wail, and in the taxi ride to the airport, moans to himself, “Bad grooming habits? What’s that on his head? A squirrel? Sheesh!” 

A lighthearted bit, to be sure, though it’s still surreal to think that this man, this reality-TV jester, currently occupies the most powerful office in the land.

And, in a bizarre twist, the man who helped guide him there once compared himself to Darth Vader.