It’s been more than 25 years since actor and activist James Cromwell played one of his most indelible roles, the kind farmer Arthur Hoggett in “Babe,” but he’s both a friend of animals and a champion of their rights.
At Friday night’s 23rd annual gala for Mercy for Animals — dedicated to preventing cruelty to farm animals and advocating for compassionate food choices — Cromwell received the organization’s Hope Award for his steadfast commitment to furry and feathered causes, a dedication he often sees. has been seen in handcuffs as a result of his impassioned protests. He was honored with even more honorees: author and content creator Joanne L. Molinaro, aka the Korean Vegan, and the influential vegan chef Babette Davis.
“[My arrest record] really isn’t such a big deal,” Cromwell said Variety with a chuckle when he arrived at the Gala at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, saying that his experiences booked and taken from pictures were worth raising awareness and challenging unnecessarily cruel institutions, often in consultation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“We have been arrested a few times and it seems to be making a difference. It wouldn’t be so much fun if it wasn’t,” said the 82-year-old Oscar nominee. “And progress is being made, which is a counterpoint to the despair and sadness you feel about what you mostly see around us, which is unconsciousness and cruelty and abuse.”
Cromwell raised his hand to illustrate his advantage when authorities pressured him. “This is the club: the beautiful fair skin,” he explained, pointing out that he thinks his whiteness has proven to be a shield against overtreatment when arrested, rarely facing any threat of violence — but not. never.
“One of the first times we did it, the police, they were mad at us because there was a funeral for a cop at the same time and they thought we planned it on purpose,” he revealed. “So when he put the cuffs on me, he really squeezed them, then he put me on the plastic seat in the back and your hands are [behind you] and there’s no room for my knees, so you’re being pushed against the backrest with your handcuffs on, it hurts like my motherfucker!”
But Cromwell doesn’t mind risking a little pain: Earlier this year, he stuck his hand to the counter of a Starbucks in Manhattan to protest the high cost of the coffee megalith surcharge for plant-based milk.
“It didn’t hurt at all — it was as simple as a piece of cake: I just squirted it down, put my hand in it,” he shrugged. “The acetone probably isn’t the best for putting on your skin… It took about 10 minutes to come off.”
“The real weird thing about it was that not only was I glued and sat on the counter, but I was as good as I could be — not screaming, but so loud that I was explaining why we were doing it,” he added. . “People came in, and in one moment no one looked at me or said, ‘Oh, that’s a celebrity.’ Or, “What is he doing? What is he against?” It just shows you how docile and unimaginative and always wanting to think, ‘My little cocoon protects me from everything, so I’m not going to stick my nose out because I might have it cut off.’ What a shame.”
Meanwhile, when Cromwell isn’t arrested, he’s still excited to pop into HBO’s “Succession” every now and then in his Emmy-nominated role as the principled Uncle Ewan of the primitive Roy family.
“I’d like to do more, because I think the show – my personal opinion – needs the balance of another point of view that is effective,” he said. “But I’m especially happy with the man and what he stands for… I said to J. Kim Murphy jesse [Armstrong], I can’t turn out to be a jerk. He has principles. Yes, he is tough. Yes, he is part of the family. Yes, he is privileged. But he does have a moral compass, which no one seems to have or care about. And I appreciate that.”