Jackass prankster Steve-O was sentenced to 30 days in jail last week for protesting Seaworld’s treatment of captive orca whales. The protest involved scaling a 100-foot crane overlooking LA’s Sunset Boulevard, bearing an inflatable whale which read “SeaWorld Sucks”, before lighting fireworks. He’s not the first screen star to have landed in trouble with the law for protesting for worthy causes – here’s 15 other actor rebels…
George Clooney was arrested along with his dad, journalist Nick Clooney, in 2012, for stepping over a police line outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington DC. The protest was bemoaning a lack humanitarian aid, and the killing of civilians in the Sudan. “It’s actually a humiliating thing to be arrested no matter what you do,” said George, “but I’m glad to be standing here with my father.”
In 1999, Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon joined a protest outside the New York Police Headquarters against the police’s shooting of an unarmed West African immigrant named Amadou Diallo. He had been hit by 19 of the 41 bullets fired at him by four plain-clothed officers in his Bronx home’s vestibule. Sarandon and 219 others were arrested by police for ‘civil disobedience’.
Lucy Lawless – aka Xena: Warrior Princess – boarded and remained on an oil-drilling ship for 77 hours alongside other Greenpeace activists in 2012, to stop it leaving for oil exploration in the Arctic. She pleaded guilty to trespassing charges later that year and was ordered to pay NZ$651 and do 120 hours of community service. Not in her Xena outfit, thankfully.
James Cromwell – Farmer Hoggett in Babe, remember? – was joined by PETA spokesperson Jeremy Beckham when, in 2013, he burst in on a board meeting at the University of Wisconsin to protest against experiments on cats. “This is not science!” he shouted. “This is torture! This is criminal!” Kudos – or, in the words of Farmer Hoggett, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
West Wing actor Martin Sheen revealed in 2009 that he’d had upwards of 65 arrests over the course of his protesting career, displaying the same principled integrity of his famous President Bartlet. He was notably arrested in 2007 for trespassing on the Nevada Test Site – a nuclear testing facility – while on a protest by Nevada Desert Experience to stop nuclear testing in the USA.
Kill Bill’s Daryl Hannah got nicked after handcuffing herself to the gates of White House in 2013, to protest the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, an extension of the current line which runs from Canada’s Hardisty to Texas’ Houston. It’s still a hugely contentious issue, seven years on from its proposal in 2008.
ER’s Noah Wyle was taken in by police in Washington DC while protesting against cuts to Medicaid, which affected the elderly. Wyle’s protest came a month after ER co-star Clooney’s – as he was led away from the Cannon House Office Building, where he had been handcuffed, he commented, “Let George focus on the international – I’ll deal with the small domestic issues.”
Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere was just 18 when, in 2007, a warrant was issued for her arrest in Japan after she and five others had attempted to prevent a dolphin hunt by paddling out on surfboards to where the hunt was occurring. The group were pushed away by the fishermen with poles; the warrant suggested they were ‘violating international commerce’.
“We’re here today to say no more to deplorable pay and working conditions,” Danny Glover exclaimed in 2010 as he was being led away from a protest outside French food corp Sodexo, in Maryland. The Lethal Weapon actor was part of a peaceful protest with the company’s labour union, but had refused to get outside the police’s line after three requests.
True Detective’s Woody Harrelson was one of nine activists who climbed the Golden Gate Bridge in 1996 to demand the protection of a 60,000-acre redwood grove from purchase and development by Texas businessman Charles Hurwitz and his Pacific Lumber Co. He’s a vegan, unsurprisingly.
Terminator 2’s John Connor – Edward Furlong in the real world – put his own real-world status into question when he appeared to try and free the live lobsters being sold at an outlet of grocery store Meijer in Florence, Kentucky – by simply removing them from their tank. The vegetarian and PETA activist was removed from the shop and arrested by police.
We Need To Talk About Kevin star Tilda Swinton risked arrest and 15 days in prison for holding up a rainbow flag in Moscow. The photo is in solidarity with LGBT Russians, whose rights have been crippled by the country’s ‘LGBT propaganda law’. Like Section 28, the law forbids the “promotion” of “non-traditional sexual relationships”, and it’s utter horseshit. Nice work Tild!
Former fireman Steve Buscemi, of Boardwalk Empire, protested against the closure of six New York fire stations in 2003. Buscemi and twelve others were arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct – or in English, staging a sit-in. He was against the compromising of public safety – but the city was insistent on budget cuts post-9/11.
Jane Fonda was arrested all the way back in 1970 at Fort Lawton, Seattle, where she joined Native Americans who were fighting to regain their territory. Impacting public opinion, her backing helped push through a deal, and in 1977 the Daybreak Star Cultural-Education Center opened.
What says anticapitalism better than nudity? That’s a question Russell Brand clearly doesn’t know the answer to – otherwise why would he have bared his privates to the cold winds of Picadilly Circus as an anticapitalist statement? The Eros statue didn’t look impressed, and the police placed him under arrest.