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On Sunday afternoon at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, the fourth annual Carney Awards honored a distinguished group of venerable character actors in film and television. Included among the honorees was industry veteran James Cromwell, who spoke candidly with The Hollywood Reporter regarding his views on the Trump administration, the threat of Justice Kavanaugh and the upcoming midterm elections.
Regarding the frequent sentiment that the work of character actors can be sometimes overlooked and taken for granted, Cromwell had no reservations in taking a more political turn in his response. “I would complain more, but I’m not a woman. I’m not a minority. I’m not black. I’m not American Indian. I’m not disabled. All of those are part of the palette of reality, and they should be represented, and it should be normal. It should be normal to have a bank clerk who has cerebral palsy. It should be normal to have a woman as an executive. It should be normal to have a black person as a scientist,” Cromwell said.
“We have cliches in this society that have been generated from the beginning of society in order to put different people down, to keep them down. Film has the possibility of changing that because it introduces us to them as human beings, and we get to watch them not listening to the garbage that comes out of Washington, especially the White House, but see them as they are, as human beings. The contribution they make. The humanity they represent and the hopefulness that we can be one society, equal society. One man, one vote, once voice, and we can save this planet,” he added.
Cromwell said he’s a big supporter of self-proclaimed democratic socialist and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Additionally, he said, “I’m supporting very progressive Democrat everywhere, because they made a commitment not to take corporate PAC money and not to take oligarch money. They are the only way we are going to end the institutionalized bribery that is the political system we have now, where corporations invest millions of dollars in a senator or congressman but get back billions.” He continued, “Whose voice are they gonna listen to? When Kavanaugh gets up there, who are they gonna listen to? Who’s Lindsey Graham gonna listen to? He listens to the people who have to have Kavanaugh because Kavanaugh is going to give them more judgments in favor of business and against labor than anybody. He is going to screw over women big time. So that issue is gone. We can’t use the courts anymore.”
Cromwell, who portrayed President George H.W. Bush in the Oliver Stone film W. reacted to the upcoming film Vice depicting Christian Bale as Dick Cheney and Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush: “I hope they tell the truth. I believe that Oliver did. He had a particular point of view.”
“This industry is very conservative. They don’t do radical work. They don’t look at things with a particular, principled position. An educated position. A position of affirming the things that are necessary. They look at, ‘Is it going to make a buck?’ They’re in business. They’re a corporation. I don’t care what the film is.”
Currently, Cromwell is filming The Laundromat, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman. The film will depict a group of journalists who seek to uncover millions of files that link political figures to secret banking accounts in order to avoid paying taxes. Cromwell commented on what led him to work on the project: “Steven Soderbergh is a wonderful director. I’m doing it because I hope that it makes an impression on an audience that what these individuals with a great deal of money do. We have made our constitutional democracy into an engine to move money from the poorest people to the richest people. That’s the function it serves. As someone once said, America is a corporation with an army.”
He also spoke to his character in the film. “I am the real reason that they basically got caught, because of a voting incident on Lake George in which I was killed by a boat that was no longer insured because of the shenanigans that went on…as they put up these front companies in order to bury their money so they became totally functional as insurance agencies and only good for generating profit.”
The annual Carney Awards were named in honor of the late Oscar and Emmy winning actor Art Carney, whose son Brian Carney helped create this celebration with Elvis Duran Group CEO David Katz and his brother Jim Katz.
Along with Cromwell, M. Emmet Walsh, Bruce Greenwood, Joe Morton, Jessica Walter, and Joe Pantoliano were also honored. Patton Oswalt served at the show’s host, and those in attendance included Harrison Ford, Marilu Henner, Richard Kind, and Dan Hedaya.
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