TV guide: The other side of money

2010-12-10 14:45

Hank Paulson’s politics are in direct opposition to just about everything that former 24, West Wing and Six Feet Under actor James Cromwell believes in.

Oscar-nominated for his role as Farmer Hoggett in Babe, the strikingly tall Cromwell possesses the kind of quiet but forceful charm that one imagines that a senior member of the US government would possess.

Cromwell mockingly laughs when he hears that Time magazine’s poll of “25 People To Blame For the Financial Crisis” rated Paulson in 18th, two places behind the American consumer: “There was a real push in America to blame the borrowers,” he says. “It was so close to overt racism, but it wouldn’t fly as things got worse and worse.?.?.”

He accepted the role of Paulson at relatively short notice.

“I heard about it a week before I got the script,” he says. “I decided on it really quick; it’s a subject that won’t get covered in America because we don’t want our public to know the truth. I have my own theories about the financial crisis, which is endemic of a larger problem.”

In the same breath, “I don’t give a damn what he thinks of it, but it’s an interesting dilemma. I had the same thing playing George Bush Senior in Oliver Stone’s film, W. ­Oliver said to me: ‘You can’t dislike him so much, you’re not going to be able to play him’, but the more research did the less I liked him.”

So how does he play someone he dislikes with such vehemence?

With “relish,” says Cromwell. “All these guys are the top of the line, but when push comes to shove [Paulson] has the power to come in and make or save their asses.”

It’s a story, James asserts, about power.

“The money figures are unintelligible; I don’t think anybody understands that kind of money.”

Although Cromwell describes himself as essentially optimistic and hopeful that solutions are being put forward by people inspired by Barack Obama’s presidency, he argues that the events of September 2008 have done little to address what he ­believes are problems in the ­capitalist system.

“Of course it’s going to happen again,” he concludes. “It will never work the way it is.?.?I never understood the whole basic theory of it, that you can turn human beings ­into wage slaves, pay them less and less to make more and more for ­fewer people and expect the system to go on?.”

So is Cromwell a socialist then?

“Socialist, I think. America doesn’t seem to like socialists very much.?.?. Socialists?” he ponders, “Oh no, we’re the boogie men!”

»Interview courtesy of BBC ­Knowledge

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