Sean Astin: Celebrities Should Brave Critics and Voice Their Political Opinions

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Sean Astin attends the 2nd annual North Hollywood Cinefest.

The actor, a surrogate for the Clinton campaign, says disparaging comments by Susan Sarandon really irked him.

Sean Astin, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, feels it's time more celebrities — and people in general — got involved in the political process. 

The actor, best known for his roles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rudy and Goonies, to name a few, told The Hollywood Reporter he understands some celebrities have hesitation about making their views known, but if they are on the fence, now more than ever is the time to take the plunge.

"The waters are fine, come on in," Astin says, speaking to Hollywood. "I would say that to any celebrity who wants to be involved in a campaign. There is nothing stopping any citizen from reaching out and participating in the process. You don't need an invitation. In fact, if you really do respect democracy, at this point we're focused on presidential politics, initiating contact is actually a very right thing to do."

Some humility also helps go a long way, he adds.

Other celebrities supporting Clinton include George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and Lena Dunham, to name a few. On Thursday, Hollywood's Democratic patriarch Norman Lear called for Tinseltown liberals to unite behind Clinton now that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. 

Astin, son of the late Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, has been busy working as a surrogate for the Clinton campaign, sharing with voters his tremendous respect for Clinton and what she represents.

It is because of those strong feelings he found disparaging comments by Bernie Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon — who played his mother in Safe Passage — so unsettling. The actress previously said she believes Clinton is getting a lot of votes only because she is a woman. “I don’t vote with my vagina," she added. 

"I was extremely disappointed with Susan Sarandon's comment because I thought that it was not an objective statement about voting for someone based solely on race and gender — it was clear who she meant and it was an insult to have Hillary's experience and qualifications treated with such disregard," Astin says. 

The actor affectionately calls Sarandon his "once and always film mom," and says despite that comment irking him, her frustration with people in Hollywood not speaking up for their candidate is something he also feels.

"Her frustration about people not getting involved sooner comes from a place of real activism, from someone who knows how you have to push to get things started," says Astin.

Still, the actor says he understands why celebrities have major concerns about publicly supporting a candidate.

"Given the high negatives of both leading candidates, the second that anyone puts themself out there in the public, you instantly get back huge amounts of really vile feedback," he says. "If you've got a movie that's coming out on 6,000 screens and you're on the bubble whether its tracking numbers are going to convert to opening-weekend dollars, then you come out in favor of a candidate, you better believe it could have a very negative impact on those dollars.” 

Astin says he is told by some fans they like his activism, and others, not so much. 

"I spend a lot of time on Facebook and social media interacting with people about the public's thoughts on whether celebrities should use their platform to speak out on politics or government issues. And most of the time, there are really positive comments and then some of the time, people really resent the blurring of their entertainment consumption with their civic space," he says. "But I spend a lot of time talking about how I'm willing to risk losing the support of people who feel that way because I am incredibly connected to my sense of civic responsibility." 

Bottom line, Astin says, he believes he is doing the right thing, and others, including those in Hollywood, would likely feel the same sense of accomplishment if they actually got involved. 

"Politics and government are supposed to be about helping people," he says. "When you roll up your sleeves and participate in the process, even if you lose, there's dignity in the fact that you were trying to help people."