“I don’t expect to work [in Hollywood] again.”
That was James Woods in 2013. The 67-year-old actor had worked in Hollywood for decades, starring in such acclaimed films as Once Upon a Time in America and Oliver Stone’s Salvador, playing Rudy Giuliani, voicing a shady government agent in the Grand Theft Auto video game series, and even guest-starring on The Simpsons as a Kwik-E-Mart proprietor. But now his politics were offending the progressive sensibilities of the American film industry.
“Scratch a liberal, find a fascist every time,” Woods tweeted in April. These days the Oscar-nominated actor uses his Twitter account to broadcast his right-wing views to his 190,000 followers—and he’s arguably become President Obama’s biggest, most famous troll on Twitter.
“He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but his politics are, apparently, batshit crazy,” says Ben Dreyfuss, engagement editor at Mother Jones whose family—including movie star Richard—is friends with Woods.
The actor does have a tendency to latch on to popular conservative memes and conspiracy theories, among them the IRS, Benghazi, and Obamacare. And at least for the time being, he’s sticking to social media as his platform for bashing liberals.
“He is not doing any interviews on this subject,” Woods’s publicist told The Daily Beast. “He prefers to express himself through Twitter and leave it at that.”
Woods’s comments can sometimes be inflammatory. He used the slur “towel-heads” after the 9/11 attacks. He has said he believes Al Sharpton is a “race pimp” and a pig. He has called Obama a “true abomination.” And that was well before this Christmas, when he appeared to joke about Obama being a Muslim.
Woods’s diehard conservatism has led some to draw parallels between his Twitter persona and his character in the 2013 movie White House Down, an extremist hawk who spends most of his time on screen hating on a liberal black president.
Woods is significantly more aggressive and prolific in his ranting than Hollywood conservatives like Jerry Bruckheimer, Bruce Willis (who isn’t much of a Republican team player, anyway), and Sylvester Stallone (who also happens to be the most anti-gun celebrity in Hollywood). Woods’s tweets alone have made him a darling in certain conservative media circles.
“James Woods has a reputation in the business of not mincing words,” Breitbart posted in September 2013. “Woods has been a prolific, highly articulate, and politically incorrect conservative voice,” The Daily Caller raved the next month. A “fierce fighter for the truth regarding the tragedy in Benghazi,” proclaimed Twitchy, the Twitter curation site founded by Michelle Malkin that regularly highlights Woods’s tweets, in May.
“James Woods refuses to toe the Hollyweird line,” Twitchy managing editor Lori Ziganto told The Daily Beast in an email. “Woods uses Twitter to speak actual truth to power; conservatives rightly can’t get enough of this rare Hollywood bravery. Woods understands the power of Twitter.”
As for those who find his views extreme, they might very well read one of his quotes from a 2003 interview with Salon and imagine the actor commenting on his future self:
“I’ve never talked to an extreme liberal or conservative who could be disabused of his or her notions about their positions,” he said. “They are intractable in their thinking, they are unreasoning and unreasonable, and it’s just a waste of breath to talk to them.”
Ten years later, Woods would tweet: “I vowed if I were ever on Twitter, I would NEVER talk politics. That worked out pretty good…”
It’s probably too late to turn back now.