When Atlas Shrugged: Part II opens on Friday, the most recognizable “actor” in the film will no doubt be Sean Hannity, who makes his big-screen debut in the film after lobbying hard for a role.
In the movie, Hannity plays the host of a TV show much like his own, which runs five times nightly on the Fox News Channel. At first blush, filmgoers will assume Hannity is playing himself – especially as he’s surrounded by other Fox News personalities in the scene – but the film is set several years in the future when Hannity will presumably be off the air or a much older man.
Hannity tells The Hollywood Reporter that he’s a fan of the book, Atlas Shrugged, and of its author, Ayn Rand, a fierce defender of capitalism and detractor of leftism. He also loved the first film, Atlas Shrugged: Part I, which was a box-office failure two years ago.
“I was definitely biased going in, but I really enjoyed the first one. I must have watched it eight times,” Hannity said. “So I actually promoted it on air, and I sent messages to the filmmakers that I wanted to be in the next one -- and I never wanted to be in anything Hollywood in my whole life!”
Atlas Shrugged: Part II stars Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe, Esai Morales and Kim Rhodes, who are not exactly household names, thus making Hannity's presence all the more notable and, no doubt, appreciated, considering the film is most likely to appeal conservatives who familiar with Hannity.
Hannity is in just one scene, hosting a TV roundtable discussion whose participants include Bob Beckel and Juan Williams, who are contributors on Fox News. The panel is discussing the “Fair Share Act,” regulations designed to lift certain businesses at the expense of more successful ones, with conservative Hannity arguing against it and liberals Beckel and Williams arguing in its favor.
“It’s amazing how relevant the movie is to the debate that’s going on in the country, with wealth redistribution, fair-share laws, etc., etc..” said Hannity, who filmed the scene on the set of his Fox News show.
Hannity even tapped his connection to Bob Beckel to lobby for a role, who passed along Hannity's request to his brother, Graham Beckel, an actor who appeared in the first installment of what’s planned as an Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy.
“I told everybody I knew who was connected to the movie that I wanted a role -- and I’ve never said that about any movie, any place, any time,” said Hannity. “I’ve actually turned down two opportunities to appear in movies recently, and I turned down a TV role. But this is just such an important piece of work and so relevant to the times we live in that I wanted to be a part of it.”
Hannity’s only other “acting” gig was in The Siege, a 1998 film starring Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis. But while Hannity’s voice can be heard for a brief moment, he’s not seen.
“All’s I know is I get checks for like 18 cents every other month for that. So, yes, you can say I am making my on-screen debut in Atlas Shrugged," Hannity said.