Swapping out the hustle and bustle of Hollywood for a more quiet life of canvases and color swatches, Carrey’s been making all kinds of statements via his paint brush. But in recent months, the iconic actor has taken a liking to reimagining the figures we often see splashed across front pages and news chyrons: high-profile members of President Donald Trump’s orbit.
Now, a new caricature created by Carrey is making waves again.
The subject is Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. And the depiction … isn’t too flattering.
The painting includes words wrapped around the lawyer’s head you may have missed at first glance.
Ensnaring Cohen’s turquoise face is a quote from Trump’s personal lawyer: “I’m warning you, tread very lightly because what I’m going to do to you is gonna be fucking disgusting.”
The slightly edited-down quote was part of a larger threat Cohen made to The Daily Beast back in 2015, when Trump was the front-runner to be the GOP nominee for president. During an interview with Cohen, the media outlet brought up an allegation from the president’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, that the then-candidate had once raped her while they were married.
Cohen, rattled by the subject matter, basically blew up. Here is the quote Carrey incorporated into his painting in full context (emphasis added):
“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?
You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet … you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it.”
While Carrey hasn’t specified why he chose that particular quote, Cohen’s attack on the free press is especially telling in lieu of recent news.
The home, hotel room, and offices of Trump’s self-proclaimed “fix-it guy” were raided by the FBI earlier this month, casting doubt on Cohen’s innocence in shielding the president from ongoing investigations into his business dealings and alleged extra-marital affairs.
Just days after the raid, with the eyes of the country on his every move, Cohen dropped libel suits against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS for their roles in publishing the so-called Steele dossier, which connected Trump to Moscow through various unconfirmed claims.
It appears Cohen’s bark is worse than his bite when it comes to his disdain for the free press.
Cohen’s not the only one in Trump’s world who’s taken a hit from Carrey’s paintbrush.
In March, the actor shared a painting of an angry, open-mouthed press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Some slammed the caricature as sexist. But others defended Carrey’s work, as the style of the painting fell in line with the actor’s other works, and unflattering depictions of powerful people have often been used as a tool for political commentary — regardless of the subject’s gender.
Between the time Huckabee Sanders’ portrait went viral and his latest recreation of Cohen, Carrey painted several other Trump allies as well.
Like Scott Pruitt, the president’s embattled EPA chief.
And Trump’s new controversial and very hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton.
Even Fox News host — and, incredibly, client of Cohen’s — Sean Hannity got a shout-out from Carrey.
Carrey’s creations are brash, unapologetic, and as candid as they come. They may not be your cup of artistry tea — regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum — and that’s OK.
But the actor’s commentary on Cohen’s threats to the free press are critical to keep in mind for every Republican, Democrat, and independent alike. After all, it was George W. Bush who once said media is “indispensable to democracy.”
“We need the media to hold people like me to account,” the former president told NBC News last year — breaking with Trump’s movebarring several news organizations from White House press briefings.
A free press is American as apple pie. And if it takes a Canadian actor to remind us of that, so be it.