Movies | October 2, 2017 5:00 am

Tom Cruise’s New Movie ‘American Made’ Cut Scenes to Avoid ‘Being Political’

The fim about 1980s cocaine smuggling had scenes implicating Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

Tom Cruise’s new movie, American Made, opened today. It looks into the conspiracy theory that both Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush were involved in a massive operation that included cocaine smuggling, money laundering, and illegal arms exporting. The Hollywood Reporter released the news today that the filmmakers decided to cut a scene that had shown a young Clinton getting a lap dance at a strip club in Arkansas.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that the movie was “poised to be the rare movie that could unite those on either side of the political divide” because it implicates one former Republican president and one former Democratic president.

Ultimately, one scene that didn’t make the final cut involved the movie’s real-life protagonist “Barry Seal,” who sees Clinton, the governor of Arkansas, and gets the idea to enlist him in the CIA-backed scheme. The movie’s producers and financier, Cross Creek Pictures, “wanted to keep the film from being political.”

The film didn’t just axe a Clinton scene, it also cut a scene that would have implicated the first President Bush in the illegal scheme that sent arms to the Contras and trained them on U.S. soil, The Hollywood Reporter writes. Conspiracy theorists believe that Bush was involved in the plot starting when he was head of CIA. Though the scene was removed, Bush, played by actor Connor Trinneer, makes a very brief appearance in the film.

Oliver North, a former National Security Council staff member who was convicted in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair, is also depicted in the film. He is played by Robert Farrior, and is an “unambiguous criminal,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film likely had more leeway depicting North in its fictional narrative because he was convicted on three felony counts (though the convictions against him were later vacated on appeal).

The film was originally titled Mena, in reference to the name of the town in Arkansas that had a hidden airfield. This airfield was used to smuggle guns and drugs back and forth to Latin America, writes The Hollywood Reporter.  American Made has enjoyed largely positive reviews, and so far it stands as one of the best Rotten Tomato scores of Cruise’s career.