Oscar winner Jon Voight voices strong opinions when discussing his serious role in a comedy that began skewering some of the Left’s favorite figures when it opened in theaters Friday.
One of the few conservative actors in Hollywood doesn’t mince words, either, alleging during an exclusive Newsmax interview that “Marxist atheists” run the “lunatic fringe” that makes up the ACLU, that Barack Obama’s economic plans are “a disaster,” and that Sarah Palin is the victim of a “mindless smear campaign.”
The film, “An American Carol,” is a takeoff on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” substituting the Ebenezer Scrooge character with an anti-American filmmaker, Michael Malone. The modern Scrooge, setting out to abolish the July Fourth holiday, bears a strong resemblance to filmmaker Michael Moore, who made the Bush-bashing film, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Directing the political twist on Dickens is David Zucker, the filmmaker behind the “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun” movies.
In the spoof, Voight plays George Washington, one of the spirits who visit Malone seeking to teach him about the real meaning of American freedom.
Chris Farley’s younger brother, Kevin, portrays Malone, while Kelsey Grammer plays the spirit of Gen. George S. Patton, Chriss Anglin walks in John F. Kennedy’s shoes, and country singing star Trace Adkins fills the screen as the Spirit of Christmas Future.
Voight rose to movie prominence in the 1969 classic “Midnight Cowboy,” which won a Best Picture Oscar, and he won the Best Actor award for his role in the 1978 movie “Coming Home.”
He sat down with Newsmax’s James Hirsen to talk about the movie; the presidential election; his daughter, Angelina Jolie; and Brad Pitt, the father of his grandchildren.
Newsmax: Why did you decide to do a politically laced comedy?
Voight: The main aspect was, of course, my friend David Zucker, whose films I’ve been a fan of. I read the script. I felt it was a quite brilliant idea. I was laughing a lot. Then I came to this role, which was a rather serious point in the film and I thought a deservedly resonant spot in it, and they had this little part for me. I said, “Okay, that sounds good, I’ll do it.”
Newsmax: David has said that he did not pick the subject matter because his ideology had changed but picked it because things have become so exaggerated that it’s truly funny.
Voight: Yes, it’s like a craziness. The ACLU used to have a meaning. At the time of the civil rights movement, it had a meaning . . . It did its part. Since that time, it’s just been corrupted, and it’s now a little bit of the lunatic fringe. The things that it’s doing, trying to find a way to keep itself important, it’s just going nuts. It’s run by Marxist atheists, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know any other way to explain their philosophic point of view because the things that they take on are so screwball.
Newsmax: You recently had an article in the Washington Times in which you expressed some of your views on Barack Obama. What would you say is your primary concern about Obama?
Voight: The influences that have created him. You know, if you look back into his past, and it’s not too distant because he’s not a very old fellow, you can see the influences that produced him. It was quite unusual to see at the Democratic Convention that the only people who could stand up for his character were people who a month earlier were saying that he was unqualified for the job, and shocked that he was running, actually. The Clintons and his vice presidential nominee, they were the only people who could speak for him. Can you imagine that the guys who know him best are all very extreme cases? They are characters who are very militant, very angry people.
Newsmax: Who are these influences?
Voight: Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, William Ayers, Michael Pfleger.
Newsmax: In your opinion piece, you wrote of the “socialist seeds” that Obama would sow. Today the public is focused on the economy in the light of Lehman Brothers, AIG and all that is hitting the headlines. How do you see Barack Obama with respect to handling our economy?
Voight: Barack Obama is a disaster, if you look at his economic plans. The programs that he’s talking about, and the tax increases that are going to support it, are a disaster. You just have to look at that.
Newsmax: What are your thoughts about Sarah Palin?
Voight: First of all, I think she’s just a wonderful woman and a great candidate, and I was deeply moved when that choice was made public. I just thought it was a tremendous choice, and I think that she’s proven herself in her appearances to be as remarkable as we would have hoped she would have been . . . What they’ve done is they’ve just created this mindless smear campaign, calling her every kind of name, and inventing things, and just figuring that if they throw enough [bleep] on the wall that something will stick.
Newsmax: When you say “they,” are you speaking of the media?
Voight: I think, well, whoever’s running this smear campaign — and it is a smear campaign — whoever’s running it. Is it the Democratic machinery?
Newsmax: You have really journeyed from one part of the political spectrum to the other. What caused your shift?
Voight: It just so happens I was part of the ‘60s, you know, the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. I was on the Left, and I was part of all that hysteria. I was wooed by people who were my peers, who were kind of glamorous people. I thought that they knew what they were talking about, and the sound bites that were being traded around were responsible, really, for ending the war in Vietnam.
This is after Ho Chi Minh had said we’re not going to win this war with bullets and bombs, we’re going to win it on the streets and in the schoolrooms of America. They did. So I had a front row seat for all that was happening back then, and if I could go back and change my behavior, I certainly would, but I can’t.
Newsmax: The cast members of “An American Carol” have a similar worldview. Are you kindred spirits?
Voight: More than that. The guys who are conservative in Hollywood are educated. I would have to say that most of the guys on the Right, maybe all the guys on the Right, have to have some degree of education because of what they’re doing. First of all, they have to make a decision to be on the Right because being on the Left is a no-brainer. You don’t have to do anything to be on the Left, you see. You just have to keep your mouth shut and go along with the crowd.
Newsmax: You’re all out of the conservative closet together. Since you’ve been so public, have some of your buddies in the industry treated you differently?
Voight: I haven’t seen that but I don’t talk politics when I’m on a set, usually. I just come to work and do my job, and I stay away from proselytizing. If somebody wants to know something, they can come up to me and talk about it.
Newsmax: Your daughter [Angelina Jolie] has been involved in humanitarian activities. She’s given real money and placed herself in harm’s way. How do you feel about that as a father?
Voight: I’m very admiring of her for her humanitarian efforts and for her ability to put her money where her mouth is, and step up and try to do something. It’s to be admired. And she’s got other people in the swing of it, too. Certainly Brad [Pitt] is involved in many nice humanitarian efforts, and it’s a caring group.
Newsmax: Do you get along well with him?
Voight: I don’t know him well, but I do like him.
Newsmax: There were reports that your relationship with Angelina has improved. The word “reconciliation” has been used to describe your relationship.
Voight: Well, we talked to each other before the kids were born, and we had a wonderful time together.
Newsmax: Angelina made statements along with Brad that were supportive of the Second Amendment. And she came back from Iraq praising General Petraeus. Do you think you’ve been an influence?
Voight: I don’t know if I’ve been an influence. I think that she’s very concerned about the refugees. I think she has great respect for our military there and what they’re doing. And she’s talked to General Petraeus personally and I have not, so I’m very impressed with her understanding of the situation.
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