About James Oliver Cromwell
James Oliver Cromwell (born January 27, 1940) is an American film and television actor. Some of his more notable roles include Babe (1995), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Star Trek: First Contact (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile (1999), The Sum of All Fears (2002), W. (2008), The Artist (2011), as well as the television series Six Feet Under (2003–2005) and American Horror Story: Asylum (2012). He has been nominated for an Oscar, three Emmy Awards, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards during his career.
Cromwell was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Manhattan, New York. He is the son of actress Kay Johnson and actor, director, and producer John Cromwell, who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Of English descent, he was educated at The Hill School, Middlebury College and Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). Like his parents, he was drawn to the theater, 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 a year later he made his film debut in Neil Simon's classic detective spoof Murder by Death.
In 1980, Cromwell guest-starred in the two-part pivotal episode "Laura Ingalls Wilder" of the long-running television series Little House on the Prairie. He played Harve Miller, one of Almanzo Wilder's (Dean Butler) old friends.
While Cromwell continued with regular television work throughout the 1980s, he made real inroads in film business for his supporting roles in the films Tank and Revenge of the Nerds. He had starring roles in the 1990s critically acclaimed films Babe (1995), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile, and Snow Falling on Cedars (both 1999). He also played Dr. Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot Broken Bow (the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" later reused some of the First Contact footage). He has also appeared in other Star Trek roles, on the television series The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, though not as Cochrane (his appearances on these shows predated his role in First Contact); he guest-starred in episodes including "The Hunted", "Birthright" (Part I and II) and "Starship Down".
Cromwell has had additional successes on television throughout his career. His role as newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst in the television film RKO 281 earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Television Movie. The following year, he received his second Emmy Award nomination for playing Bishop Lionel Stewart on the NBC medical drama series ER. In 2004, he guest-starred as former President D. Wire Newman in the The West Wing episode "The Stormy Present". From 2003 to 2005, Cromwell played George Sibley in the HBO drama series Six Feet Under, which earned him his third Emmy Award nomination in 2003. Along with the rest of his castmates, he was also nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2005 and 2006. The following year, Cromwell played Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in The Queen (2006), that earned Helen Mirren an Academy Award for Best Actress. He also guest starred as Phillip Bauer, father of lead character Jack, in the sixth season of the Fox thriller drama series 24.
In October 2007, Cromwell played the lead role of James Tyrone Sr. in the Druid Theatre Company's production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, at the Gaiety in Dublin as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival's 50th Anniversary. That same year he received the King Vidor Memorial Award from the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for his artistic achievements in film. More recently, Cromwell played George Herbert Walker Bush in Oliver Stone's W. (2008), that chronicles the rise to power of his son up until the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In an interview, Cromwell revealed that Stone had originally offered the role to Warren Beatty and Harrison Ford.
He has long been an advocate of progressive causes. In the late 1960s, he 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 thirteen were eventually released. In a 2004 interview with CNN.com, Cromwell praised the Panthers. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after seeing a stockyard in Texas and experiencing the "smell, terror and anxiety." He became an ethical vegan while playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the movie Babe in 1995. He frequently speaks out on issues regarding animal cruelty for PETA, largely the treatment of pigs. In the book Money Men, author Jeffrey Birnbaum describes how John McCain went out of his way to meet Cromwell as he advocated on Capitol Hill for funding of Native American arts education. He served as the narrator of the short film Farm to Fridge, a documentary produced by Mercy for Animals. In an October 2008 interview, he strongly attacked the Republican Party and the George W. Bush administration, saying their foreign policy would "either destroy us or the entire planet."
Cromwell is known for his tall stature; at 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), he is the tallest actor nominated for an Academy Award. His son John is also tall, standing at 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 season 2 of American Horror Story (2012).
He was married to Anne Ulvestad from 1976 to 1986. They had three children. He married his second wife, Julie Cobb, on May 29, 1986; that marriage ended in divorce in 2005.
Cromwell endorsed the reelection campaign of Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio in 2012.
He attended the 2012 Academy Awards with Anna Stuart. He is also left handed.