We weren’t especially big fans of Nick Loeb and Cathy Allen’s recent Roe V. Wade, granting an F grade to the stridently right-wing (and yet, not even entertainingly bonkers) anti-abortion movie. Indeed, the film ended up seeming far more interesting for its behind-the-scenes struggles than for the highly skewed version of history it was trying to tell; Loeb and co. famously had a very hard time making it, because, as soon as people got a grasp of the movie’s real intent—including actors, crew people, and Loeb’s own original co-director—they bailed on the project en masse. Those who stayed essentially formed a grab-bag of right-stumbling Hollywood and online elites, from Jon Voight, to Tomi Lahren, to the blessedly-mostly-forgotten Milo Yiannopoulis. Oh, and Jamie Kennedy, for some reason.
The Daily Beast tried to get at the core of that “some reason” this weekend, with a probably-much-more-in-depth-than-Jamie-Kennedy-expected interview with the actor and comedian. Kennedy all but states, in a gamely “Well, here we go” fashion, that he accepted, and then stayed on in, the role of abortion rights champion Larry Lader (portrayed in the movie as a get-quick-rich con man looking to profit off the suffering of others) because, well…They asked.
To be honest, I got offered the role. It was a more dramatic part and a real offer, and so I did some research. I knew there was a lot of stuff we were walking into but in other parts in Hollywood, I have to read, read, read, and this was a nice offer…Certain parts in Hollywood make me read nineteen times for the tenth season of a TNT show, and here comes along this detailed character. I’m an actor. I apologize if I’ve pissed people off.
The net result of the surprisingly long interview is to make it clear that Daily Beast Senior Entertainment Editor Marlow Stern has done a lot more research and thinking about Roe V. Wade and its various distortions of history than Jamie Kennedy—which is wild, since Jamie Kennedy’s the one actually in the damn thing, putting his name and reputation on the line in support of Loeb’s fact-agnostic vision. (Among other things, the film repeats in its epilogue the tale of Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey switching to the anti-abortion side in later years—a decision McCorvey very clearly stated, in the last years of her life, was motivated solely by the money she was being offered to do so.) In his defense, Kennedy takes the questions with a certain degree of acceptance, even as Stern straight-up tells him, “I think you have been sold a false bill of goods here” and describes the film as “a pretty insidious right-wing propaganda film that you’ve found yourself in.”
Not in his defense, though, are his repeated assertions that he’s “just an actor,” and his willingness to take Loeb’s version of history at his word with a minimum of questions about the part he was choosing to accept. Even as he states his own pro-choice leanings, and suggests that his agent semi-forced him to take the part, Kennedy falls back repeatedly on a sort of “Well, what are you gonna do?” response, without ever acknowledging that “Not be in the stridently anti-abortion movie with fucking Milo Yiannopoulis” was, in fact, an option. (One taken, again, by plenty of people involved in the film.) And you can really take as a template for the whole interview Kennedy’s response to a question about the Catholic League, often critiqued for their challenges to free speech, and who provided funding for the film:
I didn’t even know that, and to be real with you, there’s a lot of people that produced this, and… I didn’t even know that. I didn’t know the Catholic League did that. I believe in free speech, too. I just thought it was a very cool role. Did I know how controversial it was going to be? No. Did I know Nick’s background enough? No. Was it directed by a woman? Yes. But she left, and another woman came in. I’m in the middle as a human being. I’m a centrist.
You can read the full interview here.