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Stormy Daniels and Judd Apatow Bring a Personal and Political Doc to SXSW: ‘F— Trump’

Stormy Daniels cried and laughed during the SXSW world premiere of “Stormy,” a Peacock documentary about the porn star who made national headlines when it was revealed that Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the former president.

“Fuck Trump,” Daniels said onstage following the March 8 screening.

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Directed and produced by Sarah Gibson, “Stormy” delves into how Daniels navigated motherhood and her career while grappling with the aftermath of her alleged sexual relationship with Trump.

Judd Apatow, who executive produced the doc via his Apatow Productions, described the 110-minute film as both a “political documentary and a character study.”

“A lot of footage was being shot as everything was happening with Trump during his presidency,” Apatow said while introducing the film at Austin’s Stateside Theater. “You get a fly-on-the-wall view of what it was like for her as the story exploded, and the effect it had on her life.”

Onstage, Daniels revealed that she first met Apatow 20 years ago when he hired her for a small part in “40 Year-Old Virgin” — though she didn’t show up for her shoot date due to a death in her family.

“I thought he would replace me,” Daniels told the SXSW audience. Instead, Apatow sent flowers and rescheduled the shoot.

Most of “Stormy” was shot in 2018, after Trump had already assumed the presidency but while the Daniels scandal was still hanging over him. The hush money revelation resulted in Daniels filing a lawsuit against Trump, claiming that the non-disclosure agreement she had signed in reference to the alleged affair was invalid. Trump continued to deny the allegations and accused Daniels of lying, leading her to file a second lawsuit against him on libel charges, though the second suit was dismissed. In August 2018, Cohen reached a plea deal with prosecutors regarding his involvement in silencing Daniels.

Though its premiere comes during an election year, Apatow isn’t convinced that “Stormy” will make an impact on Trump’s chances in November.

“I don’t think these types of movies change the way people vote, but I hope the film makes people more empathetic to Stormy and her journey,” he said. “It is meant to humanize her, so you get a real three-dimensional picture of who she is and what her life has been like. A lot of people don’t feel like the people we see in click-bait are real. We are all a little shut down to how difficult it is to be thrown into the middle of situations like this.”

Erin Lee Carr, the “Britney vs. Spears” director who served as a producer on “Stormy,” also spoke at the screening.

“Sarah Gibson met Stormy in 2019 and said we should make a doc about her,” Lee Carr said. “After ‘Britney vs. Spears,’ we were looking for our next thing and ‘Stormy’ made a lot of sense. So Sarah very much cultivated the relationship with Stormy and then the indictment happened and it brought it all to a fever pitch, so then were able to sell it to Peacock and do it in a pretty short amount of time.”

The doc includes footage of Daniels’ former attorney Michael Avenatti, who became famous for representing her defamation lawsuit against Trump. Avenatti ultimately went to jail for bank fraud and misappropriating  client funds.

“I hope the documentary affects the legal system, not specifically the hush trial, because that has to go on its own way,” said Lee Carr. “But I think that Stormy’s been left holding the bag in so many aspects when it comes to her trials and finances. I’m hoping that this film raises more awareness about what Stormy has to contend with as a result of being in this legal system with a lawyer who did not have her best interest at heart.”

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