Though James Cromwell was honored at the fourth annual Carney Awards for his work as a character actor, the industry veteran has worked as a political activist his entire career.
On the red carpet at the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Calif., he candidly shared his thoughts about the current political climate.
“This is nascent fascism. We always had a turnkey, totalitarian state — all we needed was an excuse, and all the institutions were in place to turn this into pure fascism,” Cromwell told Variety on Sunday night. “If we don’t stop [President Trump] now, then we will have a revolution for real. Then there will be blood in the streets.”
Cromwell later echoed his statement during his acceptance speech for one of the six Carney Awards given out that night.
“We’re living in very curious times, and something is coming up which is desperately important to this country and to this planet, and that is an election, in which hopefully in some measure we are going to take back our democracy,” Cromwell said. “We will have a government that represents us and not the donor class. We will cut through the corruption, [and] we won’t have to do what comes next, which is either a non-violent revolution or a violent one, because this has got to end.”
Named after the late actor Art Carney, the Carney Awards recognize Hollywood’s leading character actors for their work in theater, film, and television. Joe Morton, Jessica Walter, Joe Pantoliano, Bruce Greenwood, and M. Emmet Walsh were also honored at this year’s event.
Host Patton Oswalt started the evening on a lighter note, catering his jokes to the crowd of character actors. If they really wanted to honor character actors, he joked, they should have hosted the show in a single trailer in Palmdale at 4 a.m.
However, Oswalt also made sure to acknowledge the accomplished careers of the evening’s honorees. Of the six award recipients, past characters include a turncoat futuristic revolutionary in “Matrix,” the captain of the USS Enterprise in “Star Trek” and Lucille Bluth from “Arrested Development.”
As Lucille, Walter said she her job was to flesh out the storylines revolving around the show’s lead Jason Bateman, highlighting the importance of character actors in rounding out many of today’s popular television shows and movies.
“Webster’s dictionary says that character actors specialize in playing eccentric and unusual people. Not all supporting actors do that, but character actors do,” she told Variety. “In a lot of shows, the character actors fill out the picture.”
In between speeches were performances from pop-singer Lily Meola and jazz singer Donny Most who sang during the in memoriam. The evening concluded in a town hall discussion with all of the honorees and a cocktail party in the lobby.