Actress Angelina Jolie hinted in an interview with the BBC today (Dec. 28) that she might be considering a career in politics.
Jolie has largely forgone acting in recent years to work as a documentary filmmaker and special envoy for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She was on the BBC’s Today Program to launch “Our World,” a new radio show for children centered on global affairs. ”I always say I’ll go where I’m needed,” she said, when asked by BBC journalist Justin Webb whether she’d ever consider getting involved in politics. “I don’t know if I’m fit for politics…but then I’ve also joked that I don’t know if I have a skeleton left in my closet. I honestly will do whatever I think can really make change.”
“For now, I’ll stay quiet,” she concluded, thanking Webb when he said he would add her name to the list of potential candidates for 2020.
Celebrities have made the jump from Page One to politics before—consider former actor Ronald Reagan, who became the 40th president of the US, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s governor for eight years. But since Donald Trump declared his candidacy in 2015, it’s felt like a growing list of A-listers have admitted (or at least, not denied) to having political ambitions, or have been floated as potential candidates, with Jolie just the latest. Here are just some of the most notable:
In July 2015, the singer posted a photo of herself with former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and the caption: “42, 43, 46?!,” (Bush was the 43rd and Clinton was the 42nd president)—leading to very tenuous speculation that she was planning a presidential campaign for 2024. While she hasn’t made mention of this since, Perry went on to campaign for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and referenced politics at the Brit awards last year.
In an interview with radio host Howard Stern in June, actor Alec Baldwin said, “If I ran, I would win. Hands down, I would win. It would be the funniest, most exciting, most crazy campaign.”
Kanye West’s road to politics began in 2015 when he declared in his VMA Vanguard Award acceptance speech, “I have decided in 2020 to run for president.” In a 2016 interview with BBC Radio One’s Annie Mac, West said: “If there is anything that I can do with my time and my day, to somehow make a difference while I’m alive I’m going to try to do it. Period.” He hinted again in September at a possible presidential run, this time in 2024, before saying a couple of weeks later that he had decided to distance himself from politics.
Smith complained about the state of US politics in a 2015 interview on the “Awards Chatter” podcast, saying: “As I look at the political landscape, I think that there might be a future out there for me.” He then said that, “at some point, in the near future,” “I will have to lend my voice to the conversation in a somewhat different way.” In September of this year, the actor posted a video on Instagram with Dave Chappelle in which he joked about running.
While it’s unclear whether any of the people cited above will follow through on their political ambitions, at least one celebrity did this year. Actress Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role in the TV show Sex and the City, staged a noteworthy campaign to become governor of New York against incumbent Andrew Cuomo. She lost.
Not all celebrities think actors should be jumping on the political bandwagon, including Julianne Moore and George Clooney, speaking with Variety at the Toronto Film Festival this year. When Moore said it wasn’t a wise idea to bat around the names of celebrities, including Clooney, as potential leaders, Clooney responded: “I think that having a celebrity as president who has a star on Hollywood Boulevard will exorcise our need to have someone famous in office.”
That view might strike the Guardian’s Cas Mudde as naive. “In a political system where money and name recognition are key factors in winning elections, celebrities are well positioned to do well,” Mudde writes, “particularly within a field of uninspired and uninspiring professional politicians.”