James Cromwell Biography

(Actor Known for His Character Roles)

Birthday: January 27, 1940 (Aquarius)

Born In: Los Angeles, California, United States

American actor and social activist James Cromwell is primarily known for his supporting roles. His role in the 1995 movie Babe earned him an Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor. He has also won an Emmy for his performance in the horror anthology American Horror Story: Asylum. Known for playing authoritative characters, he has delivered gripping performances in films such as Star Trek: First Contact, The Green Mile, L.A. Confidential, and The Artist. He has also voiced characters in animated films such as Big Hero 6. Some of Cromwell’s notable TV projects are Six Feet Under and Succession. A prominent supporter of social causes, he was part of the Committee to Defend the Panthers. He has turned vegan and is known for his demonstrations against ill-treatment of animals and the creation of a power station in Wawayanda.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: James Oliver Cromwell

Age: 84 Years, 84 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Anna Stuart (m. 2014), Anne Ulvestad (m. 1976–1986), Julie Cobb (m. 1986–2005)

father: John Cromwell

mother: Kay Johnson

children: Colin Cromwell, John Cromwell, Kate Cromwell

Born Country: United States

Actors American Men

Height: 6'7" (201 cm), 6'7" Males

Grouping of People: Vegan

U.S. State: California

More Facts

education: Carnegie Mellon University, Middlebury College

Childhood, Early Life & Education

James Oliver Cromwell was born on January 27, 1940, in Los Angeles, California, US. The son of actor Kay Johnson and actor/director John Cromwell, he is of mixed ancestry and has English, Irish, German, and Scottish heritage.

In 1946, Cromwell’s parents divorced. He grew up with his brother, Jonathan Cromwell, in Manhattan.

In 1958, he graduated from The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He then joined Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, followed by Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied architecture. He eventually graduated with a BFA in 1964. He then began training in acting in HB Studio in Greenwich Village, New York, and started performing in theater.

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While James Cromwell began his career with stage performances, he made his TV debut in 1975, with the role of Stretch Cunningham in the CBS sitcom All in the Family. In 1975, Cromwell was seen in his first lead role on TV, as Bill Lewis in the sitcom Hot l Baltimore. In 1976, he made his movie debut with Murder by Death.

In his initial days, he struggled to bag good roles due to his height. In the 1980s, apart from working in TV series, Cromwell appeared in supporting roles in various films, such as the action drama Tank and the comedy Revenge of the Nerds (both 1984).

He later starred as Farmer Hoggett in the 1995 comedy drama Babe. The role earned him an Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor.

He was also seen in critically acclaimed roles in the biographical drama The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), the neo-noir crime film L.A. Confidential (1997), and the fantasy drama The Green Mile (1999). Both L.A. Confidential and The Green Mile got him nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture.

He also appeared in the 1999 mystery thriller The General's Daughter and the 1999 legal drama Snow Falling on Cedars. Cromwell had bagged his first Star Trek role in a season 3 episode of the sci-fi series Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1990. He later appeared in a 1993 episode of the same series. He was seen in another Star Trek role in Deep Space Nine (1995).

He was also seen as Dr. Zefram Cochrane in the 1996 sci-fi film Star Trek: First Contact, co-starring with Patrick Stewart. Cromwell appeared in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise (2001) and the premiere episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks (season 3) in 2002.

Cromwell’s role of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst in the 1999 TV film RKO 281 earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Television Movie (2000). In 2001, Cromwell earned another Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Bishop Lionel Stewart in the medical drama series ER.

From 2003 to 2005, he was seen as George Sibley in the HBO series Six Feet Under, a role that got him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (2003) and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series (2004).

His role in the anthology series American Horror Story: Asylum won him a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (2013). His role in the black comedy-drama series Succession got him 2 more Emmy nominations (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, 2020 and 2022). The 2011 French movie The Artist won him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture.

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In March 2012, Cromwell went back to the stage after a 13-year break from plays, as Pozzo in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, staged at the Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum. His last stage role before that was in a 1999 production of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, at the ACT Theatre. He had previously received the 1979 Drama Logue Award for Outstanding Performance for his role in Terra Nova at the Mark Taper Forum.

A fine voice actor, too, he voiced villain Robert Callaghan in the 2014 Disney movie Big Hero 6. He is one of the rare actors to have played a US President multiple times. He appeared as fictional US President Fowler in the 2022 movie The Sum of All Fears; another fictional president, President Newman, in a 2004 episode of the series The West Wing; former President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 2002 TV film RFK; and former President George H.W. Bush in the 2008 film W.

He also portrayed Prince Philip in the 2006 biographical drama The Queen. His role as Captain Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential (1997) earned him rank 56 on the Total Film list of the Top 100 Greatest Movie Villains.

Social Activism

James Cromwell was influenced by Civil Rights Movement initially. He later joined the anti-Vietnam war movement.

In the late 1960s, he joined the Committee to Defend the Panthers, an association formed to defend 13 members of the Black Panther Party who were charged with conspiracy and jailed in New York. All 13 membered were released in the end.

Cromwell and 5 others were arrested in December 2015, while they were protesting against the creation of a power station in Wawayanda, New York. On June 6, 2016, Cromwell and 18 other people were arrested in Watkins Glen, New York, after they demonstrated against underground gas storage in the salt caves near Seneca Lake.

In June 2017, he was forced out of a Democratic Party fundraiser after he protested about the power station. The "Wawayanda Six,” consisting of Cromwell and his fellow protestors, were convicted of obstructing traffic and causing disorder. They were subsequently fined and sentenced to community service. Cromwell, refusing to pay the fine, was jailed for a week. The same year, Cromwell was arrested while protesting with PETA, against SeaWorld's ill-treatment of orca whales.

In July 2001, Cromwell and other PETA members were arrested for trespassing while they demonstrated against the Wendy's fast-food chain. In February 2013, he was arrested again, for interrupting a University of Wisconsin meeting to demonstrate against the ill-treatment of animals on campus.

Personal Life

In November 1976, James Cromwell married Anne Ulvestad. The couple had 3 children: their daughter, Kate (born in 1978), and their sons, John (born in 1980) and Colin (born in 1982). They divorced in 1986.

He married actor Julie Cobb in May 1986. They divorced in 2005. From 2005 to 2009, he was apparently in a relationship with actor Joan MacIntosh. In January 2014, he married actor Anna Stuart.

Known for his towering height of 6 ft 7 in, Cromwell became the tallest actor to get an Academy Award nomination. He believes in extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Cromwell turned into a vegetarian in 1974, after visiting a Texas stockyard. While filming the 1995 movie Babe, he turned vegan.

James Cromwell Movies

1. The Green Mile (1999)

  (Mystery, Fantasy, Drama, Crime)

2. L.A. Confidential (1997)

  (Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Drama)

3. The Artist (2011)

  (Romance, Comedy, Drama)

4. Murder by Death (1976)

  (Crime, Thriller, Comedy, Mystery)

5. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

  (Adventure, Thriller, Sci-Fi, Drama, Action)

6. Still Mine (2012)


7. The Snow Walker (2003)

  (Adventure, Drama)

8. The Education of Little Tree (1997)


9. The Queen (2006)

  (Biography, Drama)

10. The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

  (Drama, Biography)


Primetime Emmy Awards
2013 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie American Horror Story (2011)

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