Kurt Russell still believes actors should shut up about politics: ‘We are court jesters’

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Kurt Russell reprises his role as Santa Claus for Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two. I saw Part One and kind of liked it. The best part was Goldie Hawn’s cameo as Mrs. Claus at the end so I’m in luck because Goldie is Kurt’s co-star this time. This is the pair’s first time co-starring together since Overboard in 1987. To promote the film, they gave a joint interview to the New York Times. The interview was cute, until the reporter turned to politics. She asked him about his past statements that actors shouldn’t talk about politics and whether he still agreed. Kurt, who unbeknownst to me identifies as a “hardcore libertarian”(!) said absolutely, that it was an actor’s job to remain as generic as possible in the public eye.

Kurt, you’ve said in the past that celebrities shouldn’t really weigh in on politics. Do you still feel that way?

RUSSELL Totally. I’ve always been someone who felt we are court jesters. That’s what we do. As far as I’m concerned, you should step away from saying anything so that you can still be seen by the audience in any character. There’s no reason entertainers can’t learn just as much as anybody else about a subject, whatever it is. But I think that what’s sad about it is that they lose their status as a court jester. And I’m a court jester. That’s what I was born to do.

HAWN You’re not always funny.

RUSSELL A court jester isn’t always funny. 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.

HAWN But we did have a president who was an actor, Ronald Reagan.

RUSSEL Like I said, actors can learn as much as anybody else can.

HAWN Well, I’m just saying Reagan definitely was a well-known actor. I think it’s a personal choice whether you want to get into that. The one thing I don’t agree with is that just because we have a platform we always have to use it. That is our choice.

[From New York Times]

I don’t agree with Kurt, but I understand his thought process. It ties in with separating the artist from the art, which I guess Kurt doesn’t think the audience can do. I’d have a hard time watching a movie in which James Woods played Jimmy Carter because of each man’s politics (and general moral code). I mean, if Kurt came out and said, “hey, I support the guy that put babies in cages!” I probably wouldn’t want to see his Santa Claus film. But, I do think there are exceptions, especially in extreme cases like the last four years. As Goldie said, actors have an incredible platform and when faced with hatred and bigotry, I agree, they should use it. I think Kurt’s point about Reagan is a little different, though. He’s saying if an actor wants to get into politics they should, but then become a politician and leave acting to the “jesters.” Except that the minute they receive their SAG card they’re political so Kurt is kidding himself if he thinks the profession is apolitical.

The rest of the interview, however, is actually quite charming. Kurt and Goldie talk a lot about the holidays. Goldie lets it slip that Kurt dresses up like you-know-who and Kurt is afraid his grandkids will find out, which makes Goldie giggle and point out that their grandkids probably aren’t reading the New York Times – that made me laugh. Then the interviewer asked Goldie, who was raised Jewish, if she still celebrated any Hannukah traditions and she said no. When she was a kid she wrapped herself up in a wall phone cord and backed into a menorah, setting herself on fire. After that her mother canceled Hannukah from then on. My favorite thing about Kurt is Goldie.

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Photo credit: Getty Images and Joseph Lederer/Netflix press

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13 Responses to “Kurt Russell still believes actors should shut up about politics: ‘We are court jesters’”

  1. Jo73c says:

    He’s contradicted his own point about court jesters. They’re not invisible and impartial. They were the ones who could portray the rulers faults and the public opinion of them.

    • kesley says:

      This.

      Court jesters were the ones mocking the Kings and Queens and those in power back in the days. He has no idea what he is talking about.

    • Case says:

      My thoughts exactly. Arts and politics have been linked throughout history, jesters being the prime example.

      Actors are just people and have as much right as anyone else to discuss their political views. I appreciate when they speak out about human rights issues in particular. That said, if they’re not the social-media-using, share everything type of celeb, I’m fine with them not discussing politics. The only “movie stars” we have anymore are the ones that still have some mystery about them and don’t tell us all about their private life.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Exactly. Kurt is making a great argument for why he, specifically, should STFU. I’m tired of rich privileged white men just wanting to ignore fascism.

  2. FrenchGirl says:

    As I believe that less i know about an actor /ress more he/she can be believable in his/her role,as a celebrity in general is a citizen like another

  3. Myra says:

    Acting is a profession. When actors get off set, they are individual persons and are entitled to the same inalienable rights as all others in society. Sure they enjoy a certain type of privilege that few will ever experience. Nonetheless, they still have a voice, a greater platform than most and if they want to use it to better society, they are free to do so.

    • Yup, Me says:

      I agree with you. I really liked how John Legend put it when he said that he is a tax paying citizen of the nation and, as such, he has every right to speak up and use his voice and to push for and demand change.

      Separately, Goldie Hawn makes me think of that pack of actors who have been famous for too long and have completely lost touch with reality. They get so used to people blowing smoke up their asses for their same old brand gimmick that they think all they have to do is show up for their adulation (which is true because that’s generally what happens). I saw her offer the keynote at an event a couple years ago and she was absolutely terrible. She also sounded completely batshit. Everyone else had CLEARLY prepared for their presentations, whereas, she somehow got the idea to just get up and talk about herself. Know how I know her thought process? Because she told us during her horrid keynote. Ever since, whenever I see or hear a quote from her, she sounds like someone speaking in Goldie Brand Sound Bites – *sparkle sparkle sunshine giggle giggle smile* It’s Goldie! (TM)

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree. No one should be restricted from speaking out simply because they’re an actor.
      If Kurt chooses not to, that’s up to him, but he shouldn’t dictating what anyone else is or is doing.

  4. equality says:

    If you are a good enough actor you can own a role. What you do off-screen isn’t important.

  5. MF1 says:

    Actors make art and art is, very often, political by nature. And actors are people, they deserve as much as any of us to express their views openly.

  6. L4frimaire says:

    He should read Edward Norton’s tweet on Trump, then get back to us on actors having opinions. I guess your acting job, and it’s still a job, not your life, means you can’t walk and chew gum. Interesting how highly paid actors need to shut up, while much higher paid tech executives think they need to be reshaping the world and government policy, instead of just writing code, doing delivery apps or social media platforms. Why can they do that but an actor can’t express an opinion? Make it make sense, but if Russell wants to shut up and muzzle himself, maybe because he realizes he has nothing of substance to say, good for him.

  7. Ashley says:

    I think everyone is missing the point. Kurt comes from the old Hollywood system. In old Hollywood you never had an opinion a publicist didn’t write for you. And if you are a fan of the golden age of Hollywood you will know how the system worked and why his view makes sense. Actors were blank slates and the PR machine wrote everything for and about them. His view holds sound. In a way I agree with him. For instance while I like Léo Dicaprios movies, when I see him I don’t see the character, I see Cannes Léo who loves to party with 23 year old models and who can never grow up putting on a suit and calling himself Howard Hughes. Complete with the angry little knot he gets in the middle of his forehead. Posing with polar bears but using private jets because he’s a hypocrite so voiceovers on green docs aren’t going to rewrite that. While he’s good at emitting emotions, he cannot shirk off his personal image. Not like say Daniel Day Lewis can. Jessica Chastain and Kate Moss also have it right. You know nothing about them and because of that they can sell you any image they choose to put on.

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