James Cromwell On "The Artist"

The veteran actor on why the silent film phenom struck a chord.
6:22 | 02/09/12

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Transcript for James Cromwell On "The Artist"
James Cromwell has played crooked cops US presidents and British royalty he's even for -- Jack -- data on 24 during his long career. The Oscar nominated -- his latest film the artist is a flat out sensation the homage to silent movies is up for ten Oscars including best picture. Here's a scene. Wow what a great seeing right there. Congratulations. On the success of this bounds thanks so much did you know going into -- that you had a real winner on your hands and. I -- the foggiest idea. When your agent tells you that there's someone is going to do a black and white silent film with two unknown. French actors and unknown French -- you think signing up now I have at a and I talked to long -- to the director to get Mike questions answered because I didn't I didn't want to be in -- film where the silence in the black and white was just a gimmick right. I don't remember what he said at the end of the three hour lunch -- sold but who knows -- -- -- but I had no idea. Actually the the thrust of the film and why he chose to do it. Until I saw the film -- the theater with an audience so it wasn't until after it wasn't even during the process of filming -- that you really said. Now I bet ya know I saw you know with the with the wonderful -- that goes ahead with his artistry. His vision. And what I could see on the monitor. Which was beautifully by Aaron. Let you know you never know -- senator regular film you never know until it's done -- -- to director's medium and it's in the edit. And this one is not even that so much as it is that the audience is creating. Each person in the audience is creating their own story in the land -- and to hear a whole audience participate in -- film not be fitted on a platter. But actually sort of create for themselves the magic this going on and take that magic away with them at the end of the movie. It's truly wonderful I mean I can just imagine it must have been so many naysayers in Hollywood at the beginning of this project it must feel. -- to -- -- vindicated with that is that incredible and results. Very. I I think. Some clips or maybe a rough assemblage over -- Warner Bros. -- one of those. Still think. We're not hatred stadium and affect. Acting like for a silent -- I mean do you have to exaggerate the facial expressions on the mannerisms. Well first of all you don't have to them and the best you don't can. The difference is that the story is not being told by what you say. Therefore your intention -- the the focus that you put on what you are trying to communicate is really what happens with this which -- never really sure what it's doing. And with your body and you think you're responding that way and not relying on words that come out of your mouth now the the audience in the theater of course is trying to read these for a little while but then pretty soon they get used to the fact that. It's the entire screen. It's the poster on the wall while she's dancing with his -- which says the thief -- for heart or as he watched walks -- through Hollywood. There's a marquee which says. The -- star. As an all kind of delicious clues as slaves throughout -- just the same ways it is in a novel it's really wonderful really isn't an extraordinary way. Two to visualize and to and to tell a story and of course you know you've you've been nominated for an Oscar before in in in bay incorrect yeah. Only sixteen lines and I was doing this is -- -- no stranger to having a great performance whereabouts -- -- -- what secrets to. The secret to that. And health have a problem not face you know that that expresses things and feeling comfortable with -- it's also that both of that actually -- and this film you know there's a kind of coolness and contemporary films and Hollywood and a sort of a cynicism you know somebody -- on somebody else -- -- -- You children. And it is all about being. And communicative. It's all what's hidden is the story. Whereas in -- and in this film. Everybody wears their hearts on their sleeves and so everybody expresses everything in there's a kind of optimism and hopeful lists or. And -- case of course a desperation. As them. As the country and the world and his industry and his -- move on and sort of leave him and what will happen to us. How much the same ways it is today. Wonderful story now of course you are no you -- not be quiet about the fact that you're an animal rights activists as well and and then Begin. We tell us about that part of your life. Well a good friend of mine Norman -- that celebrity is to spend one because if you donated to he eats your soul so when after I did Dave. And had been a vegetarian because they came through the stockyards feed lots and takes us for what seemed like a day. On my motorcycle with the animals as far as you can see on either side of the road. -- about to do this anymore and and then I got involved with Peta and animal rights and Begin Begin to see how it is that we provide food. Four people. With such cruelty and such waste and such degradation of the environment. And a -- if we're going to have a planet to leave to our children we can't continue to eat this way. You know it's like. The city of New York write its bill to the streets are only so wide. More and more people come to new York and the traffic gets more it becomes untenable right and our food supply system is untenable at this point so many people -- -- -- Well thank you so much for coming in chatting with us today congratulations on -- -- think that you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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