James Cromwell – A Tall Act

James Oliver Cromwell (born January 27, 1940) is an American actor and activist. Some of his best-known films include Babe (1995), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile (1999), The Queen (2006), Secretariat (2010), The Artist (2011), and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).

Cromwell is also well known for his performances in television including HBO’s acclaimed Angels in America (2003), Six Feet Under (2003–2005), American Horror Story: Asylum (2012–2013), Succession (2018–present), and Counterpart (2018–2019).

Cromwell has been nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Babe (1995). He won a Primetime Emmy Award for his role in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012) and a Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor for his role in Still Mine (2013).

Cromwell was born in Los AngelesCalifornia. He is the son of actress Kay Johnson (1904–1975) and actor and director John Cromwell (1886–1979), who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. His parents divorced in 1946. He has English, German, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He graduated from The Hill School in 1958, and went on to Middlebury College, and Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in theater before leaving the school. He received his acting training at HB Studio in New York City. Like his parents, he was drawn to the theatre, performing in everything from Shakespeare to experimental plays.

Cromwell’s first television performance was in a 1974 episode of The Rockford Files playing Terry, a tennis instructor. A few weeks later, he began a recurring role as Stretch Cunningham on All in the Family. In 1975, he took his first lead role on television as Bill Lewis in the short-lived Hot l Baltimore, and appeared on M*A*S*H as Captain Leo Bardonaro in the episode “Last Laugh”. A year later, he made his film debut in Neil Simon‘s classic detective spoof Murder by Death Cromwell portrayed four different characters in four episodes of Barney Miller (1977-1981). In 1977 he appeared in Three’s Company episode- “Chrissy’s Night Out” as Detective Lannigan.

In 2016 Cromwell starred in HBO‘s series The Young Pope alongside Jude Law and Diane Keaton. In 2018, he appeared in HBO‘s Succession, and Starz‘s Counterpart.

In 2020, Cromwell starred in the Australian comedy-drama film Never Too Late. Cromwell starred in Operation Buffalo, an Australian television comedy-drama series about the atomic bomb tests in outback Australia, which screened on ABC from 31 May 2020.  In 2022, his has guest shots on the HBO Max show “Julia”.

Cromwell married Ann Ulvestad in 1977. They divorced in 1986. Together the couple had three children: Kate, John and Colin. Cromwell married actress Julie Cobb on May 29, 1986; they divorced in 2005. On January 1, 2014, Cromwell married actress Anna Stuart at the home of Stuart’s former Another World co-star Charles Keating. Cromwell lives in Warwick, New York.

Cromwell is known for his height; at 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), he is the tallest actor nominated for an Academy Award. His son John is even taller, standing 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m). In the 2012 film Memorial Day, John played the young Bud Vogel, while James played him as a grandfather, and both Cromwells appear as the same character at different ages in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012) and the first season of Betrayal (2013).

Cromwell’s experiences of the Civil Rights Movement while on a theatre tour through several Deep South states in 1964 had a profound effect on him. The courage of local campaigners and visiting activists – Cromwell had played high school football with civil rights worker Mickey Schwerner, who was murdered with two of his colleagues in Mississippi in 1964 – convinced him to become an activist. He subsequently became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and by the late 1960s, Cromwell was a member of the Committee to Defend the Panthers, a group organized to defend 13 members of the Black Panther Party who had been imprisoned in New York on charges of conspiracy. All 13 were eventually released.

Cromwell has long been an advocate of progressive causes, particularly regarding animal rights. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after seeing a stockyard in Texas and experiencing the “smell, terror and anxiety”. He became vegan while playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the 1995 film Babe. He frequently speaks out on issues regarding animal cruelty for PETA, largely on the treatment of pigs. In 2017, he was arrested during a PETA protest against SeaWorld‘s treatment of orca whales, at which he spoke about marine mammals’ suffering and premature deaths.

In an October 2008 interview, Cromwell criticized the Republican Party and the George W. Bush administration, saying that their foreign policy would “either destroy us or the entire planet”.

In February 2013, Cromwell was arrested along with animal rights activist Jeremy Beckham for interrupting a University of Wisconsin Board of Regents meeting while showing a graphic photo of a cat to protest about alleged mistreatment of animals on campus. The incident, which garnered widespread press coverage, was resolved on March 25, 2013, when an attorney representing Cromwell entered no-contest pleas to the non-criminal offense and agreed to pay $100 forfeitures and court costs of $263.50. In December 2015, he was removed from an event in New York for heckling an energy company receiving an award. On December 18, 2015, Cromwell and five other people were arrested while protesting against the construction of a natural gas power station in Wawayanda, New York, near his home in Warwick, New York. He and his fellow protesters, called the “Wawayanda Six”, were convicted of disorderly conduct and obstruction of traffic. They were fined $375, due June 29, 2017 and sentenced to 16 hours of community service. After refusing to pay the fine, he was sentenced to a week in jail, scheduled to go on July 14. However, they were released 3 days later on July 17. Cromwell and fellow Star Trek actor J. G. Hertzler were among the 19 people arrested in Watkins Glen, New York on June 6, 2016, for a protest against underground gas storage in salt caverns near Seneca Lake. On June 6, 2017, he was escorted out of a Democratic Party fundraiser (which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi attended) after disrupting the event by protesting about the power station. Cromwell was again arrested, this time for trespassing after taking part in a protest along with PETA at Seaworld on July 24.

On October 31, 2019, Cromwell was again arrested with 34-year-old animal rights activist Jeremy Beckham. They were charged with disorderly conduct after police said they disrupted a meeting of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. The two were part of a demonstration by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to protest A&M’s use of dogs for medical research. Both were released after posting bonds of $5,000 each.

In May 2022, Cromwell superglued his hand on the counter of a Manhattan Starbucks to protest the surcharge of plant-based milks.

In 2015, Cromwell executive produced the documentary Imminent Threat which tackles the War on Terror’s impact on civil liberties.

In 2021, Cromwell executive produced the psychedelic comedy Mondo Hollywoodland, directed by Janek Ambros, who also directed Imminent Threat.

Net Worth approximately $8 million dollars.


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