James Cromwell on The Promise and the hoops of Hollywood

He once kicked dirt on a director

It turned out that Curtis was more expert than all of us put together. (Laughing.) He made a wonderful film, in spite of the three of us.

SM: I’m so glad this had a happy ending. I didn’t want you to go on record slamming Curtis Hanson!

JC: I kicked dirt on him. I didn’t punch him, but I punched the car. I called him every name in the book, and as soon as the film opened it was like we were best friends. He was great. He had forgotten all about it.

SM: Before this interview is over, I will have spent more time talking to you than you do appearing on screen in The Promise. An hour-and-a-half into the picture and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m in the wrong theatre.

JC (Laughing): Right?

SM: You can’t be on screen for more than five minutes, yet the subject matter means enough to you that you’re willing to promote it as if you were the star. Why?

JC: This man who produced it, Eric Esrailian, is a doctor who never made a movie. He went through all the hoops that Hollywood demands. He came to make a distribution deal armed with a script, a director, and $100 million dollars and people balked. It wasn’t a walk in the park for Eric.

People can disagree that the story seems to overwhelm the background or trivializes it in some way. The important thing for everybody was this genocide has got to be addressed. If the Turks, bless their hearts, have the courage to acknowledge what had happened and make amends, then maybe countries like the United States can acknowledge our responsibility in the genocide of the Native people of America and the black people who were brought from Africa.

We paid lip service, but there’s no resolution before Congress as there should be. And there should be restitution paid to both those communities for what they went through and continue to go through. It would change the nature of this country profoundly as it would if Turkey would acknowledge what they did to the Armenians. Then maybe we could avoid what is going on in Syria and Yemen and Somalia and the Sudan and every other place where ordinary people are suffering the ravages of a geopolitical conflict done for profit and influence and greed.

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