(Dec. 3) We’ve all become so accustomed by now to Hollywood actors spouting off about politics that it shocks us when a big star spouts off against Hollywood politicking.

That’s exactly what Kurt Russell, a star for more than half a century, did when talking to the liberal New York Times. In doing so, he claimed the role of a “court jester” — and he rightly meant it as a compliment.

Actors, he said, usually should “step away from saying anything [political] so that you can still be seen by the audience in any character.” If actors become known too much for their politics, he said, “They lose their status as a court jester. And I’m a court jester. That’s what I was born to do.”

The key to this came in his further explanation, one that is historically correct.

“A court jester is the only one who can walk into the castle and put the king down as long as he doesn’t hit too close to home. I think that’s been a big, important part of all cultures throughout history, and I’d like to see it stay in ours.”

This attitude of emphasizing the job of acting as a craft and as a means of truth-telling through one’s art, as opposed to using the fame from one’s art as an excuse to pontificate in a different arena, is foreign in today’s Hollywood. Rare is the election, of course, in which actors don’t threaten to self-exile from the United States if their candidate doesn’t win or throw around “Hitler” references like confetti or offer hackneyed observances as if they were great insights.

It’s not that Russell believes actors shouldn’t have opinions, especially if they are well studied: “There’s no reason entertainers can’t learn just as much as anybody else about a subject, whatever it is.” Yet, his decadeslong partner Goldie Hawn chimed in to reject the notion that “just because we have a platform, we always have to use it.”…

[The full column is at this link.]


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