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Michael Moore Tells the Story of Meeting Donald Trump: ‘People Think He’s Stupid — He’s Not Stupid At All’

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Michael Moore apparently distinctly remembers the first time he met Donald Trump. During a recent interview with Variety, the documentary filmmaker told the story of an encounter he had with the president elect back in 1998 — and the impression it left on him.

Roseanne Barr — after her sitcom was over, they gave her a talk show. I was on, and Trump was there in the green room. He sees me, goes to the producer, and says, ‘I can’t be on the same show. I saw that General Motors movie, and he’s going to attack me.’

The producer said [to me], ‘Is there any way you can help me?’ I said, ‘Oh brother, I’ll go talk to him.’ I walked over, shook his hand — it was very clammy. I don’t honestly remember the size, but it was moist. He said, ‘We don’t have to mix it up out there.’ I said, ‘Why do you assume that about me? I’m from Michigan. We don’t really know you. The only thing that sticks in my head is you were one of the few guys that was on the cover of Playboy.’ He laughed. I said, ‘It’s Roseanne. She’s a comedian. You have nothing to worry about here.’

However, Moore went on to reveal that when he started thinking back to the meeting during Trump’s campaign, he had a revelation about it.

He stayed, and we did the show. And it wasn’t until last year that it hit me: People think he’s stupid — he’s not stupid at all. He played me; he got me to not be myself, to not talk any anti-corporate talk. I thought I was going over to relax him. What he was doing was undoing me so I wouldn’t be Michael Moore. This guy is good.

Read more at Variety.com.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com