Oscar Actors: Cromwell, James–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage–Emmys)

Updated July 12, 2020
James Cromwell Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: Yes; mother actress, father director (blacklisted)

Social Class: middle

Race/Ethnicity/Religion

Family:

Education:

Training:

Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut:

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role: Babe, 1995; age 55

Other Noms:

Other Awards: Emmy Awards and Noms

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:

Marriage: 2 of his wives actresses

Politics: Democrat

Death: NA

James Oliver Cromwell (January 27, 1940) is an American actor and activist. Some of his notable films include Babe (1995), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), I, Robot (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), The Queen (2006), Spider-Man 3 (2007), W. (2008), Secretariat (2010), The Artist (2011), Big Hero 6 (2014), Marshall (2017), and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).

TV series included Angels in America (2003), Six Feet Under (2003–2005), American Horror Story: Asylum (2012–2013), Boardwalk Empire (2012–2013), Halt and Catch Fire (2015), The Young Pope (2016), Succession (2018–2019), and Counterpart (2018–2019).

Emmy Awards and Noms

Cromwell has been nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as the Best Supporting Actor Oscar 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 Angeles, California. 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. He has English, 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 TV 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, appeared on M*A*S*H as Captain Leo Bardonaro, in the episode “Last Laugh” in Season 6 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 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.[citation needed]

While Cromwell continued with regular television work throughout the 1980s, he played supporting roles in the films Tank and Revenge of the Nerds (both 1984). He guest starred on the sitcom Night Court, playing a mental patient, along with Predator actor Kevin Peter Hall. He had starring roles in the 1990s critically acclaimed films Babe (1995), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), The Education of Little Tree (1997), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile (1999), The General’s Daughter, (1999) and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999). He also played Dr. Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot episode “Broken Bow” (the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly” later reused some of the First Contact footage). Appearing in other Star Trek roles on the television series The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, though not as Cochran (these episodes predated his role in First Contact), Cromwell guest-starred in several episodes, including “The Hunted”, “Birthright” (Part I and II) and “Starship Down”. He also voiced The Colonel in DreamWorks’ Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.[citation needed]

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 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.

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 Bush’s 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. Cromwell also provided the voice of the main villain Professor Robert Callaghan/Yokai in the Disney movie Big Hero 6.

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.[16]

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.

Cromwell was married to Ann Ulvestad from 1977 until their divorce in 1986; they had three children: Kate, John and Colin. Cromwell married his second wife, 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 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).[1][21] In the 2012 film Memorial Day, John played the young Bud Vogel, while James played him as a grandfather,[22] and both Cromwells appear as the same character at different ages in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012) and the first season of Betrayal (2013).

Advocacy
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 murdered civil rights worker, Mickey Schwerner – convinced him to become an activist. He subsequently became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement,[23] 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.

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 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.

Cromwell served as the narrator of the short film Farm to Fridge, a documentary produced by Mercy for Animals.

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”.

Activism

Cromwell and J. G. Hertzler show their arrest citations at the Crestwood station protest.
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.

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.