James Oliver Cromwell is an American film and television actor, known for his roles in Star Trek: First Contact, The Green Mile, LA Confidential, The Artist, American Horror Story: Asylum, but playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the movie Babe in 1995, completely changed his life. The movie that was released more than 20 years ago earned Cromwell an Oscar nomination, but also made him an outspoken vegan and animal rights advocate.
James Cromwell was born on January 27, 1940, in Los Angeles, California, and raised in New York to parents, actress Kay Johnson and director and producer John Cromwell. Due to his parents’ influence, he became interested in acting and started his acting career in theater, performing in Shakespearean and experimental plays.
He first appeared on television in 1974 as Terry in Rockford Flies, and one year later he made his film debut in Neil Simon’s Murder by Death. He appeared in several other films and television series, but he finally achieved critical acclaim and Academy Award recognition for his role as the kindly Farmer Hoggett in the movie Babe.
Adapted from Dick King-Smith’s book “The Sheep-Pig,” the movie takes place in Australia, and it is about a pig who wants to be a sheepdog. The movie that is widely considered as one of the best family movies ever made received 7 Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. James Cromwell was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Arthur Hoggett in Babe and as we mentioned above, the film made him an outspoken vegan and animal rights advocate.
Cromwell had been a vegetarian since the mid-1970s but became an ethical vegan in 1995 while filming Babe. In his interview with TakePart, the actor explains how he came to the decision, “I was doing a picture in Australia called Babe, working with a lot of animals and animal trainers. I cared about their welfare and then, of course, you have lunch and it’s all there in front of you, and I thought, I should go the whole hog, so to speak. So I made that decision and kept that during the shooting. When I came back, I got involved with PETA, and of course, the film opened and it was very successful”.
The actor became involved with PETA’s campaign rescuing pigs from school 4-H programs, and he also appeared in a video that features a hidden-camera investigation at a pork supplier that he says is used by Walmart.
As reported by the Guardian, in the video presented by animal rights group Mercy For Animals, Cromwell details a hidden-camera investigation which he says has uncovered “torture” at a pork supplier in Minnesota, used by America’s best-known retailer.
In February 2013, James Cromwell was arrested at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for protesting about a school study that the animal rights group PETA says involves “abusive experiments” of cats. He was again arrested in 2015, while protesting against the construction of a power station in Wawayanda, New York, near his home in Warwick, New York. Last year he was among 18 others arrested during a protest against an energy company near Seneca Lake.
Babe inspired Cromwell to take ethical actions for the rights and well-being of animals through his diet and activism.
“I decided that to be able to talk about this [movie] with conviction, I needed to become a vegetarian,” he told the Vegetarian Times in 1998.