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How a Movie About a Pig Inspired James Cromwell to Change his Life

Tijana Radeska

Babe was released 23 years ago, in 1995. With a budget of $30 million, it earned $254.1 million and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning the one for Best Visual Effects.

To this day, Babe remains one of the best family movies of all time.

The story of a cute talking piglet who wants to become a sheepdog captures the hearts of everyone, regardless of their age.

Babe running in a scene from the film ‘Babe’, 1995. Photo by Universal/Getty Images

Babe running in a scene from the film ‘Babe’, 1995. Photo by Universal/Getty Images

While it is widely considered as a children’s movie, “the guy from Babe,” James Cromwell who played Farmer Hogget, always tells people that it is not a movie for kids.

Who would have thought that we can learn so much about humans by watching this tiny pink piglet? From how to treat other people to how to believe in and pursue our dreams.

The movie had a profound effect on Cromwell as well. Besides earning an Oscar nomination, he never ate meat again, and became an outspoken vegan and animal activist.

Although he was vegetarian since the mid-1970s, Cromwell became an ethical vegan while filming Babe.

James Cromwell. Photo by Toglenn CC BY-SA 3.0

James Cromwell. Photo by Toglenn CC BY-SA 3.0

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.”

In an interview for Vice in 2015, Cromwell said: “That film (Babe) was a turning point in my life and in my career, and in fact, it gave me a career — up until that, I had a careen. So if I can trace back all the many blessings that exist in my life, it all began with that one film. It’s been 20 glorious years.”

Cromwell and J.G. Hertzler show their arrest citations at the Crestwood station protest. Photo by JGHSMC CC BY-SA 4.0

Cromwell and J.G. Hertzler show their arrest citations at the Crestwood station protest. Photo by JGHSMC CC BY-SA 4.0

Who would have thought! In numerous interviews, he has told the story of how he didn’t like playing Farmer Hoggett because he wasn’t very talkative and Cromwell wanted more lines. When he got the role, Cromwell complained to his close friend, Charles Keating about it and his friend said:

“Hey, listen, man. It’s a free trip to Australia! If the movie stinks, it’s the pig’s fault. You don’t carry the picture. The pig carries the picture!”

The wider audience might not know his name, but they do know Cromwell’s face as “the guy from Babe” and remember his outstanding performances in iconic movies such as Star Trek: First Contact, The Green Mile, LA Confidential, The Artist, and American Horror Story: Asylum.

Actor James Cromwell at 23rd Genesis Awards. Photo by Kristin Dos Santos – Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Actor James Cromwell at 23rd Genesis Awards. Photo by Kristin Dos Santos – Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

What most people don’t know is how hardcore is Cromwell when it comes to animals. He narrated the documentary Farm to Fridge where one can learn how much blood and violence their meat dish costs. In 2013, he was even arrested during a protest against experiments on cats.

After becoming involved with PETA, Cromwell took part in numerous campaigns. He appeared in a video that features a hidden-camera investigation at a pork supplier that he claims is used by Walmart.

In 2015, Cromwell was arrested for a second time while protesting against the construction of a power station in Wawayanda, New York, near his home in Warwick.

The following year, he was among the 18 protesters arrested at Seneca Lake for protesting against an energy company.

Read another story from us: Sean Connery Once Beat Up 6 Gang Members who Wanted to Steal his Jacket

Speaking against factory farming, Cromwell has said: “To deny an animal its right to self-determination, its right to live out its life as it chooses in its natural habitat, that is an aggression.”