Kurt Russell is a self-described “hardcore libertarian,” and a few years back he caused quite a stir with some strongly-worded thoughts on gun control and terrorism. Perhaps that episode caused him to self-reflect, because as he recently told the New York Times, actors “should step away from saying anything [political] so that you can still be seen by the audience in any character.”
Via The Hollywood Reporter, Russell was promoting his new film Christmas Chronicles 2 alongside his longtime partner Goldie Hawn. “There’s no reason entertainers can’t learn just as much as anybody else about a subject, whatever it is,” he said. “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.”
Referencing a trope that dates back to the Fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear, he continued, “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.” So wouldn’t that imply that actors should speak their mind? Shouldn’t they use that privileged position to affect change?
Nope. As Russell said, “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.”
In his defense, Russell has mostly tried to avoid taking stands on specific policies, instead preferring broad signifiers like “hardcore libertarian” and talking about the “amazing people” at the Cato Institute. The big exception came in 2017, when an interviewer asked him if Quentin Tarantino’s films felt different after mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino. Russell scoffed at gun control, saying “Put some controls? What,so the people who want to defend themselves can’t?” He added, “If you think gun control is going to change the terrorists’ point of view, I think you’re, like, out of your mind. I think anybody [who says that] is. I think it’s absolutely insane.” In the aftermath, he said he turned down offers to appear on Fox News and Bill Maher.
Christmas Chronicles 2 is out on Netflix starting today, November 18th. Last year, Russell played the Narrator and Randy Miller in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
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