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Threats, debt and Trump's advances: 'Stormy' doc examines the life of Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels from the Peacock documentary <em>Stormy.</em>
NBCU
Stormy Daniels from the Peacock documentary Stormy.

The new documentary Stormybegins in 2023 — around the time former President Donald Trump was indicted over hush-money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Stormy Daniels, who was paid by Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen to keep quiet about their alleged previous affair, watches the news unfold on TV and then says, "Let's go," before she walks off screen.

Stormy chronicles Daniels' life from her childhood in Baton Rouge, La., to her rise as an adult film actor and then, in the opinion of some, a feminist hero. It also gives viewers a glimpse into how she went from friend to foe of a celebrity businessman who became president of the United States.

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"I am here today to tell my story and even if I just change a few people's minds, it's fine. If not, at least my daughter can look back on this and know the truth," she said in the film.

Trump's criminal trial over the hush-money payments has been delayed until mid-April. He faces 34 felony counts, alleging he falsified New York business records to conceal damaging information before the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies the allegations that he had an affair with Daniels and has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

On Monday, a judge rejected Trump's bid to block Cohen and Daniels — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — from testifying. The trial date will be set at a hearing on March 25.

The film, released Monday on Peacock, mainly captures Daniels' life between 2018 and 2023. Here are the main takeaways from the documentary:

1. Daniels explains why she didn't say no to Trump's advances back in 2006

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Daniels alleged that she was abused by a neighbor in Louisiana when she was 9 years old. She did not go into further detail except to say that the man, whom she did not name, had abused other young girls and has since died.

Later in the film, as Daniels explained why she did not refuse Trump's advances when the two met in 2006, she said, "I didn't say no because I just, I was 9 years old again." At the time, Daniels was in her 20s and Trump was 60.

Though she described the alleged affair as consensual, Daniels said she did not want to have sex with Trump.

"To this day, I blame myself and I have not forgiven myself because I didn't shut his a** down in that moment, so maybe make him pause before he tried it with someone else," she said. "The hardest part about all of this is I feel like I am partially responsible for every woman that could have come after me."

2. Threats against Daniels have become more disturbing

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Throughout the film, Daniels is forced to navigate insults and threats hurled at her and her family.

But she described herself as having thick skin. In one scene from 2018, Daniels joked that she was disappointed she could not find any hate comments on Twitter after she had received a key to West Hollywood from the city's mayor.

Fast forward to this past year, after Trump's indictment, Daniels said the hate comments had become more intense and disturbing.

"Back in 2018, there was stuff like 'liar, s***, gold digger,' " she said. "This time around, it is very different. It is direct threats. It is 'I'm going to come to your house and slit your throat.' "

Daniels added that she did not feel protected by the justice system, and accused it of ignoring her concerns about her safety.

3. Daniels says her 'soul is so tired' but she is willing to testify against Trump

Amid the six-year conflict with Trump, Daniels' marriage ended, her relationship with her daughter became strained, and she felt her safety was constantly jeopardized.

But with Trump about to go on trial, Daniels said she's willing to testify in court against the former president.

"I'm more prepared with my legal knowledge but I'm also tired. Like, my soul is so tired," she said. "I won't give up because I'm telling the truth. And I kind of don't even know if it matters anymore."

4. Daniels owes Trump over $600,000 in attorney fees

Near the end of the documentary, it's clear that Daniels also suffered financially as a result of her years-long legal battle against Trump.

In 2018, Daniels sued Trump for defamation. The suit was based on a tweet Trump wrote that year, which suggested Daniels had lied about being threatened in 2011 to not speak out about her alleged previous affair with Trump.

A federal judge later dismissed the suit and ordered Daniels to pay the then-president's legal fees.

Daniels appealed but lost. She now owes Trump over $600,000 in attorney fees. The film asserts that Daniels is afraid she may lose her home.

5. Seth Rogen and Jimmy Kimmel speak on Daniels' behalf

Among the people who appeared in the documentary were actor Seth Rogen and late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel.

Rogen, who worked with Daniels on the 2007 film Knocked Up, recalled talking with her about Trump. At the time, Daniels said she was communicating with Trump about possibly being on his former reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice.

"She didn't realize she would one day be at the center of this giant thing as she was messing around with some game show host," Rogen said. "She's someone who made an enemy of the most powerful guy on the planet and didn't, like, cower."

Kimmel invited Daniels to his show in 2018, when Daniels' nondisclosure agreement about her previous affair with Trump was still in effect.

Kimmel described Daniels as having a good sense of humor but also afraid of violating her NDA. He nodded to this during their interview, in which he brought out puppetsto reenact her interactions with Trump.

"She told the truth and she paid a price for that," Kimmel said in the film. "It's not something that just goes away."

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Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.