Alaskan salmon have a new famous friend: Michael Keaton.
On a break from the New York set of his latest project — the Sara Colangelo-directed What Is Life Worth, about the life and work of 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorney Kenneth Feinberg — the Oscar-nominated star called Rambling Reporter to explain his stealth appearance at a recent fundraiser for the Portland-based Wild Salmon Center at New York Yacht Club.
Keaton, who has been a champion of environmental causes since the 1970s, accepted an invite from friend Guido Rahr, president and CEO of the organization, to speak on behalf of the fish that are under threat due to a mining development in Bristol Bay, Alaska, particularly the controversial Pebble Mine that could harm the salmon’s largest remaining spawning ground.
President Donald Trump’s administration has cleared the way for construction of the mine, something that doesn’t sit well with Keaton. “If you ruin this particular area, you demolish the entire population,” Keaton explains of the situation, which he refers to as a micro example of his macro environmental concerns. “Something like 60 million salmon every year pass through this area. Eventually these [mines] will leak and affect the fish. As a 35-plus-year fly fisherman, yeah, I care, but more than that, inevitably in these situations, it’s the people who suffer the most because it hurts the local economy, it hurts jobs, it hurts tourism. It’s not like the administration doesn’t care — they are actively trying to do things to destroy, dismantle and remove this [bay].”
Per The New York Times, the 40,000-square-mile Bristol Bay supports 14,000 jobs and generates $1.5 million annually in sales. Keaton suggests those who wish to join the fight donate to the Wild Salmon Center.
Particularly upsetting to Keaton is the administration’s “disregard for science, climate change” and the water debacle in Flint, Michigan. “This is unbelievably selfish and disrespectful. It’s a slap in the fucking face and unconscionable. We are watching a B-minus version of a villainous administration right in front of our eyes — with bad acting. There is something sick and demented about this.”
A version of this story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.