By Paul Bond
Former congressman and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul will make his acting debut in the third installment of the Atlas Shrugged film trilogy, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The film also will feature several other prominent conservative personalities with little or no acting experience, including Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.
“Atlas Shrugged is a fantastic book, but it’s much more than a story — it’s a philosophy,” Paul said. “It’s influenced millions of people already and because of its greatness it’s going to continue to influence a lot of people.”
Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? is based on the final third of Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, which tells the story of a U.S. economy in collapse due to taxation, overregulation and the demonization of those who have achieved more than their fair share of success.
Because the movie’s themes resonate with conservatives, Libertarians and Tea Partiers, producer Harmon Kaslow was inclined to pack his film with personalities who appeal to that portion of the political spectrum, like radio talk-show host Andrew Wilkow and Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform. There’s even a hedge fund manager: Jonathan Hoenig, a Fox News Channel regular panelist and founding member of the Capitalist Pig fund.
"We put out a casting call and those are the only guys who showed up," Kaslow quipped. "It could be the subject matter."
Kaslow says that several small parts in the movie were written with well-known political figures in mind, but also with the assumption that he’d allow them to ad-lib. Paul and Beck, for example, are TV commentators covering the aftermath of a speech by one of the primary characters, John Galt, played by Kris Polaha.
"I love Atlas Shrugged — Fountainhead I love more — but who could say no?” Glenn Beck told THR.
Paul, of course, is no stranger to the camera, having appeared in dozens of TV news shows and in a few documentary films though always as himself whereas time around he’ll be billed, “commentator.” Perhaps his most famous turn on the big screen was when he was unwittingly duped into being “interviewed” by Sacha Baron Cohen in the 2009 movie Bruno. The third installment of Atlas Shrugged, though, marks the first time he’s willingly appearing in a fictional feature film, where he is asked to feign reaction to a pivotal, scripted scene.
"We told them it’s better for us to be themselves, and we got some golden moments," Kaslow said. "We just showed Glenn Beck and Ron Paul our John Galt giving his speech, and told them to give their honest opinion."
Hannity and Wilkow also play TV commentators in the movie, while Norquist along with talk-show hosts Rusty Humphries and Phil Valentine portray political cronies. Matt Kibbe, CEO of the Tea Party group FreedomWorks, plays a man who is instrumental in starting a grassroots effort in support of John Galt, the mysterious man who may have something to do with the disappearance of some of the most productive people in society.
"These are people who speak to our audience and all of them have showed an affinity for the book, so it made sense to reach out to them," Kaslow said.
Producers have timed all three of the movies for maximum political effect. Atlas Shrugged: Part I opened April 15, 2011 (Tax Day), and Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike opened Oct. 12, 2012, a month prior to a presidential election. Part I grossed $4.6 million while Part II grossed $3 million in theaters. The latest installment is set for Sept. 12, about seven weeks ahead of what’s expected to be very contentious midterm elections.
See the trailer for Part 2 below:
Photo credit: Getty Images