Fred Thompson: It's 'Tough' to Be a Republican Actor in Hollywood (Q&A)

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Fred Thompson

The "Law & Order" alum, a former U.S. senator and GOP candidate for president, stars in a new movie about corruption in the U.S. Senate.

Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator and candidate for Republican nomination for U.S. president, stars in Persecuted, a movie that Millennium Entertainment opens in 600 theaters Friday and is produced by Gray Frederickson, the Oscar-winning producer of The Godfather Part II. The film tells the story of a televangelist framed for murder by powerful government officials.

Thompson spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the real-life issues raised in the film, which he calls a "religious thriller."

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In the film, the Senate majority leader is the bad guy, and he engages in a murder plot. Does that ring true?

Well, I don't believe I'll be accusing anybody of murder. This is not a documentary, but it reminds us that we have to be vigilant and that a strong, centralized government can pose the biggest challenge to people's constitutional rights.

Do you think that the corrupt Senate majority leader in your film has anything in common with the real one, Harry Reid?

The one in the film's a much nicer guy. But you have to say that I laughed when I said that, OK? In the movie, he simply represents power. I think Harry would get a kick out of it. There's not much that bothers Harry.

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Do you think the movie's theme of Christian persecution has relevance in the real world?

There's terrible persecution in many countries. Of course, we don't have that here, but we do have issues involving church and state. You can't have too much religious freedom, but you can certainly have too much governmental involvement in religion.

Will this movie have a wider audience on the right or left?

It's more conservative than most Hollywood movies. I don't think there's any question about that. I mean, it has a Christian minister as a protagonist in it, for starters, and that's unusual.

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Will it bother Democrats that the Senate majority leader and president are the antagonists, since in real life they are both Democrats?

People only ask that question when the film is perceived as conservative. It never comes up when the shoe is on the other foot.

Is it tough to be a Republican actor in Hollywood?

It's a tough business for everybody, but if you happen to run across a particular moviemaker who's politically oriented and your views don't coincide, then it could be an issue. There's no question about that. It's a tougher road to travel. Conservatives don't go out of their way to advertise their political views because they know they're the distinct minority. It's not just actors, but also behind-the-camera folks.