×

Ridley Scott Blasts Donald Trump’s Response to Coronavirus: ‘He’s a Nutcase, Isn’t He?’

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, Hollywood has been brought to a standstill. TV and movie productions have been put on hold, as the industry — along with millions in other businesses — is social distancing.

One such project that’s been paused is “The Last Duel,” Ridley Scott’s upcoming drama set in 14th century France starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The movie stopped production this month after shooting abroad and will presumably resume when things go back to normal. (As a result, the release date of the 20th Century Studios release, scheduled for later this year, might need to change.)

Scott calls the move “sensible,” as self-isolating has become critical to slowing the spread of the fatal disease. The prolific 82-year-old director (the “Alien” franchise, “Gladiator,” “Blade Runner,” “The Martian,” etc.) is now back at home in Los Angeles, keeping up on the news. He has plenty of thoughts about how politicians — from Donald Trump to British prime minister Boris Johnson — are handling the pandemic all over the world, which he shared with Variety.

What’s the latest update on the production of “The Last Duel”?

We, of course, sensibly put the film on hold. I finished in France after shooting for a month and decided it was sensible to close down for the time being. We’re a month in and it looked fantastic. The period is 1360, so we’re back to medieval France and it’s kind of interesting. Back about two weeks ago, we decided to hold it out because it’s silly to continue and wait for the inevitable to happen. We were set to go to Ireland in a week and it was a natural break, so I said, “Why don’t we stop here and we’ll return?”

What do you think about the way that politicians are handling the coronavirus crisis?

Particularly with this orange-headed fellow that’s running us, he’s a nutcase, isn’t he? [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo made a name for himself, he’s put himself on the map certainly. Looking at the globalization of the politicians that are running the world, half the time being run by idiots and the other time by despots, there are very few worthwhile ones, if you know what I mean. No one wants to go into politics. If anyone has half a brain they wouldn’t want to go into politics anyway, right?

What would you suggest that leaders should be doing differently?

I’m a war baby, so, in the war years, we had rationing. People could not binge on food, we had ration books with coupons where you were at a limited amount that you could buy. They should do that now because people are buying so much food and then the food is rotting. In England as well, I mean, Jesus, Boris [Johnson], get out your thinking cap, ’cause what we’re now talking on is an iPhone, a perfect coupon distributor to limit what you can buy each time you go to the shops. And that way, you have order. You must have order and calm.

What do you think about how the media has handled it? The difference between the news networks is outrageous.

Yes, insane. I still think CNN’s the best and they are in dismay at how it’s not being handled properly.

What do you think needs to be done to stop the spread?

If we stay indoors for the given amount of time, they get a handle on it to understand what’s going on. The irony is that for the most part, it’ll be an experience of mild to severe flu for most people and old geezers like me have gotta watch my back. And I am. I’m being very cautious, I want to return and finish off the film with Matt Damon.

Are you doing anything in particular to pass the time?

I’m a big painter. I resumed painting 10 years ago. My whole grounding is in art school. I paint all the time.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    DGA, SAG-AFTRA, WGA Scramble to Keep Residuals Flowing During Coronavirus Pandemic

    Hollywood’s creative guilds have been working overtime to keep residual checks going out to members during the coronavirus crisis. Even though most of the staff members of the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America West have been working remotely, the guilds have stepped up efforts to maintain the flow of [...]

  • Hannah Marks, Dylan Sprouse. Hannah Marks,

    How a Bart Simpson T-Shirt Delayed Dylan Sprouse’s Movie ‘Banana Split’

    Long before the release of “Booksmart,” actress Hannah Marks set out to make a movie that would be the female bookend to “Superbad.” She started writing the script eight years ago, at 18, based on a real-life story about how, in high school, she befriended the girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend. Many drafts followed for “Banana [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds'6 Underground' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Ryan Reynolds in Talks to Star in 'Dragon's Lair' Film Adaptation for Netflix

    Ryan Reynolds is in talks to star in and produce a live-action feature adaptation of the ’80s arcade game “Dragon’s Lair” for Netflix. Roy Lee will produce through his Vertigo Entertainment with Trevor Engelson of Underground Films. Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Jon Pomeroy are also producing. Reynolds will produce through his Maximum Effort production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content