Movies

Kurt Russell: I’m Not a Republican, I’m Worse. A Hardcore Libertarian

The Hateful Eight actor talks being a Hollywood political oddity in a Daily Beast interview.

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While making the rounds promoting his star turn in Quentin Tarantino's new film The Hateful Eight, Kurt Russell told The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern that he's frequently had to deny his long-rumored association with the Republican Party.

Real-keeping.
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The truth, Russell says, is actually far worse:

I wasn't a Republican, I was worse: I was a hardcore libertarian.

As Reason's Nick Gillespie has noted, Russell's politics have been coming up in interviews more frequently, mostly thanks to his unwavering support of the Second Amendment. But Russell rarely discusses his broader libertarianism publicly and, he tells the Beast, he has a policy of turning down invitations to appear on political talk shows. (Which, as someone who used to book high-profile guests on your now-defunct favorite political talk show, makes me feel less personally rejected over our failure to book Snake Plissken on The Independents.)

Like many libertarians, Russell says he found his way toward the light as a young person unable to "buy into a political culture" and found the roots of libertarianism in the Founding Fathers, who he describes as "pretty radical guys, and damn smart" with "great ideas." Getting more specific with his political philosophy, Russell adds:

I believe in limited Constitutional government, free market capitalism, reach for the brass ring. There's this place where you can go do that and don't step on anybody's toes and still try to reach for the brass ring. 

Russell talks about how much he enjoyed going to the Cato Institute's 20th

Big Trouble
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Anniversary Party (in 1994 1997), which he described as "a place where I can have a conversation and not be laughed at or smirked at" as he would at parties in Hollywood, where he says he was "politically persona non grata."

He describes Bill Maher as a "nice guy" but a "faux-libertarian" and says the reason he doesn't appear on Maher's show (or any political talk shows) is essentially that he'd prefer not to come off like a typical celebrity blowhard. Russell's preference for civil political discussions conducted in good-faith is pretty refreshing:

I always had a good time talking about things with people. The thing people did get to know about me if they engaged me is that I'm fair, I'm pretty energetic, and I'm pretty knowledgeable. I don't pop off without finding out about stuff—and I like finding out about stuff, and don't have that much of an agenda about it.

You can read the whole interview and watch a video of Russell's audition to play Han Solo in the original Star Wars here