James Cromwell

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James Cromwell
Cromwell in 2010
James Oliver Cromwell

(1940-01-27) January 27, 1940 (age 84)
Other namesJamie Cromwell
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
  • Actor
  • activist
Years active1974–present
Height6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Anne Ulvestad
(m. 1977; div. 1986)
(m. 1986; div. 2005)
(m. 2014)

James Oliver Cromwell[1] (born January 27, 1940)[1] is an American actor and activist. Known for his extensive work as a character actor, he has received a Primetime Emmy Award as well as a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Babe (1995). Other notable roles include in Star Trek: First Contact (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), Deep Impact (1998), The Green Mile (1999), The Queen (2006), W. (2008), Secretariat (2010), The Artist (2011), Still Mine (2013), Marshall (2017), and Emperor (2020).[2] He has also voiced roles in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), and Big Hero 6 (2014).

Cromwell is also well known for his roles in television including Angels in America (2003), Six Feet Under (2003–2005), American Horror Story: Asylum (2012–2013), Boardwalk Empire (2012-2013), The Young Pope (2016), Succession (2018–2023), and Counterpart (2018–2019). He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role in American Horror Story: Asylum.

Early life and education[edit]

Cromwell was born in Los Angeles, California.[1] 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. His parents divorced in 1946.[3][4] He has English, German, Irish, and Scottish ancestry.[5][6] He graduated from The Hill School in 1958,[7] and went on to Middlebury College,[8] and Carnegie Mellon University, where he graduated with a B.F.A. in 1964.[9][10] He received his acting training at HB Studio[11] in New York City. Like his parents, he was drawn to the theater, performing in everything from Shakespeare to experimental plays.[citation needed]


Cromwell's first television performance was in a 1974 episode of The Rockford Files playing Terry, a tennis instructor. A few weeks later,[12] 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 appeared on M*A*S*H as Captain Leo Bardonaro in the episode "Last Laugh". A year later, he made his film debut in Neil Simon's classic detective spoof Murder by Death.[13] Cromwell portrayed four different characters in four episodes of Barney Miller (1977-1981). In 1977 he appeared in Three's Company episode- "Chrissy's Night Out" as Detective Lannigan.

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 old friends.[citation needed]

While Cromwell continued with regular television work throughout the 1980s, he made appearances in films with supporting roles in Tank and Revenge of the Nerds (both 1984). He guest starred on the sitcom Night Court, playing a mental patient, along with Kevin Peter Hall. He had starring roles in the 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). Cromwell's first Star Trek role was on Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1990, in the season 3 episode "The Hunted", followed by the 1993 episode "Birthright, Part 1" as Jaglom Shrek. He also played Dr. Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact (1996), the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot episode "Broken Bow", and the 2022 Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 premiere episode, "Grounded". The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" reused some of the First Contact footage.[14] Cromwell appeared in another Star Trek role on the television series Deep Space Nine, in the episode "Starship Down" as Hanok. He also voiced the Colonel in DreamWorks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.[15]

Cromwell's 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 Awards 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.[16]

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.[17] That same year he received the King Vidor Memorial Award from the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for his artistic achievements in film. Cromwell played George H. W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W. (2008), that chronicles the rise to power of Bush's son up until the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[18] Cromwell also provided the voice of the main villain Professor Robert Callaghan/Yokai in the Disney movie Big Hero 6.

In 2015, Cromwell executive produced the documentary Imminent Threat which tackles the War on Terror's impact on civil liberties.[19]

In 2016 Cromwell starred in HBO's series The Young Pope alongside Jude Law and Diane Keaton.[20] In 2018, he appeared in HBO's Succession, and Starz's Counterpart.[21]

In 2020, Cromwell starred in the Australian comedy-drama film Never Too Late.[22] 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.

He is currently featured in the HBO Max show Julia, as Julia Child's father, John McWilliams.[23]

In 2021, Cromwell executive produced the psychedelic comedy Mondo Hollywoodland, directed by Janek Ambros, who also directed Imminent Threat.[24]


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".[25] He became vegan while playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the 1995 film Babe.[26] He frequently speaks out on issues regarding animal cruelty for PETA, largely on the treatment of pigs.[27] 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.[28]

Cromwell served as the narrator of the short film Farm to Fridge, a documentary produced by Mercy for Animals.[29]

Cromwell and J. G. Hertzler show their arrest citations at the Crestwood station protest, 2016

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.[30][31] The incident, which garnered widespread press coverage, was resolved on March 25, 2013, when an attorney representing Cromwell entered no-contest pleas to the non-criminal offense and agreed to pay $100 forfeitures and court costs of $263.50.[32] In December 2015, he was removed from an event in New York for heckling an energy company receiving an award.[33] On December 18, 2015, Cromwell and five other people were arrested while protesting against the construction of a natural gas power station in Wawayanda, New York, near his home in Warwick, New York.[34] He and his fellow protesters, called the "Wawayanda Six", were convicted of disorderly conduct and obstruction of traffic. They were fined $375, due June 29, 2017 and sentenced to 16 hours of community service.[35][36][37] After refusing to pay the fine, he was sentenced to a week in jail, scheduled to go on July 14.[38] However, they were released 3 days later on July 17.[39] Cromwell and fellow Star Trek actor J. G. Hertzler were among the 19 people arrested in Watkins Glen, New York on June 6, 2016, for a protest against underground gas storage in salt caverns near Seneca Lake.[40] On June 6, 2017, he was escorted out of a Democratic Party fundraiser (which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi attended) after disrupting the event by protesting about the power station.[41] Cromwell was again arrested, this time for trespassing after taking part in a protest along with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) at Seaworld on July 24.[42]

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. The two were part of a demonstration by PETA, protesting A&M's use of dogs for medical research. Both were released after posting bonds of $5,000 each.[43]

In May 2022, Cromwell superglued his hand on the counter of a Manhattan Starbucks to protest the surcharge of plant-based milks.[44] Later that year, PETA named him their 2022 Person of the Year.[45] In April 2023, he helped rehome a pig destined for slaughter to the Indraloka Animal Sanctuary and named it "Babe".[46]

Personal life[edit]

Cromwell married Ann Ulvestad in 1977.[47] They divorced in 1986. Together the couple had three children: Kate, John and Colin.[10] Cromwell married actress Julie Cobb on May 29, 1986; they divorced in 2005.[48] On January 1, 2014, Cromwell married actress Anna Stuart at the home of Stuart's former Another World co-star Charles Keating.[49][50] Cromwell lives in Warwick, New York.[51]

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][52] In the 2012 film Memorial Day, John played the young Bud Vogel, while James played him as a grandfather,[53] and both Cromwells appear as the same character at different ages in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012) and the first season of Betrayal (2013).


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 civil rights worker Mickey Schwerner, who was murdered with two of his colleagues in Mississippi in 1964 – convinced him to become an activist. He subsequently became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement,[54] 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. All 13 were eventually released. In a 2004 interview with CNN, Cromwell praised the Panthers.[55]

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".[18]

He supported the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[56]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1995 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Babe Nominated
2000 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie RKO 281 Nominated
2001 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series ER Nominated
2003 Six Feet Under Nominated
2013 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie American Horror Story: Asylum Won
2020 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Succession Nominated [57]
2022 Nominated [58]
2023 Nominated [59]
1997 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture L.A. Confidential Nominated
1999 The Green Mile Nominated
2004 Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Six Feet Under Nominated
2005 Nominated
2011 Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture The Artist Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "James Cromwell Biography". TV Guide. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. [I]n 1995, he became the tallest actor ever nominated for an Academy Award.
  2. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards raises the star wattage" Archived October 31, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Toronto Star, March 3, 2013.
  3. ^ "James Cromwell on the Promise and the hoops of Hollywood | San Diego Reader".
  4. ^ "John Cromwell – Films as director:, Other films". Filmreference.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  5. ^ "John Oliver ("James") Cromwell: b. 27 Jan 1940 Los Angeles, CA". Ancestry.com RootsWeb. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  6. ^ "Pedigree of Cromwell's family". Ancestry.com RootsWeb. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  7. ^ "About Us > Notable Hill Alumni". Pottstown, Pennsylvania: The Hill School. Archived from the original on June 6, 2019. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  8. ^ Cromwell, James, in "Gov. Shumlin Gets Request From James Cromwell: Switch State Beverage From Milk to Apple Cider". PETA. February 26, 2015. Archived from the original on May 26, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020. I'm proud to have attended Middlebury College.
  9. ^ "Oscar Night". Carnegie Mellon University. n.d. Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2020. ...CMU alumnus James Cromwell (A'64)....
  10. ^ a b Lipton, Michael A. (March 25, 1996). "Pig's Best Pal". People. Vol. 45, no. 12. Archived from the original on December 7, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2020. He dropped out of Middlebury and enrolled as a theater major at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon). A year later, 'I left in a huff,' he says. 'Institutions and I get on each other's nerves something fierce.' ... A nine-year first marriage to actress Ann Ulvestad ended in 1986. Cromwell retained custody of their three children: Kate, now 18 and a freshman at Smith College, John, 16, and Colin, 14.
  11. ^ "Alumni". HB Studio. Archived from the original on May 12, 2020. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  12. ^ "All in the Family (a Titles & Air Dates Guide)". Epguides.com. November 27, 2011. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  13. ^ Welsh, James M.; Whaley, Donald M. (2013). "Cromwell, James (1940–)". The Oliver Stone Encyclopedia. Scarecrow Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-8108-8352-9.
  14. ^ "StarTrek.com Offers Commentary on 'In a Mirror, Darkly'". TrekToday. April 27, 2005. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  15. ^ Hamilton, Jill (2003). "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron". In Tomassini, Christine; Schwartz, Carol (eds.). Magill's Cinema Annual, 2003. Gale Group. p. 447. ISBN 978-1-55862-459-7.
  16. ^ Bellafante, Ginia (2007). "In 24's World, Family Is the Main Casualty". In Burstein, Dan; de Keijzer, Arne J. (eds.). Secrets of 24. Sterling. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-1-4027-5396-1.
  17. ^ Gaiety Theatre Dublin, Ireland – Irish Theatre Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ a b "W: James Cromwell vs. George Bush Snr". SuicideGirls. October 15, 2008. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  19. ^ "James Cromwell Champions Docu 'Imminent Threat' and Actor/Activist Has Stories to Tell". July 2, 2015.
  20. ^ Anderson, Ariston (November 4, 2016). "James Cromwell on 'The Young Pope', 'Radical Politics', America's Need for 'Revolution' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  21. ^ Feinberg, Scott (June 19, 2023). "From 'The Last of Us' to 'Succession': The Stacked Race for Drama Guest Actor". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  22. ^ Maddox, Garry (16 April 2019) Life is still busy over 70 for stars of new 'triumph over ageing' film, The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  23. ^ "Meet the Cast of "Julia"". March 30, 2022.
  24. ^ "James Cromwell Production 'Mondo Hollywoodland' Sets Release". July 9, 2021.
  25. ^ "AR-News James Cromwell interview in The Age (Melbourne) focuses on animal rights". EnviroLink Network. June 23, 2003. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  26. ^ Cardoni, Salvatore (December 27, 2011). "James Cromwell: You Don't Own Another Creature". Takepart.com. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  27. ^ Shure, Marnie (September 17, 2020). "James Cromwell and PETA want pigs out of our Peeps". The Takeout.
  28. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (July 25, 2017). "James Cromwell Arrested During SeaWorld Protest". Variety. Archived from the original on July 25, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  29. ^ "Farm to Fridge". Meatvideo.com. Archived from the original on February 23, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  30. ^ WMTV (February 7, 2013). "Actor James Cromwell Arrested at UW Regents Meeting". Gray Television, Inc. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
  31. ^ "James Cromwell Arrested Protesting UW Cat Experiments". PETA. February 7, 2013. Archived from the original on February 11, 2013. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
  32. ^ "Attorney for actor James Cromwell agrees to fine for pro-animal outburst". The Cap Times. March 25, 2013. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017.
  33. ^ "'Babe' Star James Cromwell Escorted From N.Y. Event for Heckling". December 3, 2015. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  34. ^ Randall, Michael (December 18, 2015). "Six protesters taken into custody in anti-CPV power plant demonstration". recordonline.com. Times Herald-Record. Archived from the original on December 20, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  35. ^ Randall, Michael. "'Wawayanda Six' convicted of disorderly conduct over power-plant protest". Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  36. ^ "Actor among those guilty in "Wawayanda 6" trial". Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  37. ^ Reed, Jana (June 7, 2017). "Wawayanda Six Charged with Disorderly Conduct". Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  38. ^ Nani, James. "Actor James Cromwell sentenced to jail for protest". Archived from the original on June 30, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  39. ^ ""Wawayanda Three" walk free". www.midhudsonnews.com. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  40. ^ Star Trek Actors Arrested, Call on Gov. Cuomo to Boldly Go Beyond Fossil Fuels Archived June 7, 2016, at the Wayback Machine - EcoWatch
  41. ^ "Actor Cromwell booted out of congressional fundraiser". www.midhudsonnews.com. Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  42. ^ Rocha, Veronica (July 25, 2017). "Actor James Cromwell cited after orca show protest at SeaWorld in San Diego, police say". LA Times. Archived from the original on July 27, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  43. ^ "'Succession,' 'Green Mile' star James Cromwell arrested at Texas A&M protest".
  44. ^ "'Succession' star James Cromwell glues his hand to a Starbucks counter in a protest". NPR. May 11, 2022.
  45. ^ Jamie Burton, "James Cromwell Happy to Be 'Offensive' and 'Unpopular' On PETA's Behalf," Newsweek, 28 January 2022.
  46. ^ Christian, Charlotte (April 9, 2023). "Vegan James Cromwell Names Rescued Pig "Babe"". Top 10 Films. Retrieved April 9, 2023.
  47. ^ "James Cromwell > Companions". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  48. ^ "James Cromwell files for divorce". Associated Press. January 14, 2005. Archived from the original on September 22, 2018 – via USA Today.
  49. ^ "Emmy Winner James Cromwell Marries Soap Star Anna Stuart!". Closer. January 9, 2014. Archived from the original on March 2, 2018. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  50. ^ "Another World's Anna Stuart Marries James Cromwell in Charles Keating's Home! | Daytime Confidential". Archived from the original on March 5, 2018. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  51. ^ "James Cromwell: A bundle of contradictions". Chicago Tribune. July 25, 2013.
  52. ^ Ellis, Cynthia (May 4, 2010). "Tribeca Film Festival Interview: John and James Cromwell of A .45 at 50th". HuffPost. Archived from the original on May 26, 2020. John is 6'8 to James' already very tall 6'7.
  53. ^ "Memorial Day". Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  54. ^ TYT Interviews (May 25, 2017), James Cromwell Interview with Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks, archived from the original on July 14, 2017, retrieved May 30, 2017
  55. ^ "Black Panther, drunk priest, kind farmer". CNN. June 18, 2004. Archived from the original on June 1, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2007.
  56. ^ "James Cromwell on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  57. ^ "72nd Emmy Awards Complete Nomination List" (PDF). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  58. ^ Lewis, Hilary; Nordyke, Kimberly (July 12, 2022). "2022 Emmy Awards Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  59. ^ "Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series Nominees / Winners 2023". Television Academy. Retrieved July 21, 2023.

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