While it makes little difference to the quality of the film, it can be nice to know that the actors we're watching share our lifestyles and ideals. Of course, it's easy to forget when you're lost in the moment that the character and the actor are very different people. So here are three great films that are surprisingly centered around vegans.
The Hunger Games: Woody Harrelson
Woody Harrelson has played all manner of blood-soaked action roles, from zombie killer Tallahassee in Zombieland to Sgt. Keck in The Thin Red Line. But he himself has been vegan since early in his Hollywood career, finding that the diet helped his health and complexion. The Twinkies that he ate during his Zombieland role were in fact vegan faux-Twinkies, so that he could maintain his principles while portraying his character's eccentricities.
Harrelson is now reappearing in cinemas in Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. Harrelson plays the survivor of a brutal battle to the death, now advising others on how to survive. The character may not have Harrelson's gentleness, but he at least pushes back against a brutal system, much like the campaigning actor.
Clueless: Alicia Silverstone
Easily dismissed as another teen comedy, Clueless is a kind-hearted and witty tale that brings Jane Austen's Emma into the consumer world. For all that its message is about looking beneath the surface, Clueless does little to challenge the excessive consumer lifestyles that its characters live. These folks are really chewing up the world's resources.
Yet the main character, Cher, is played by the thoughtful and principled Alicia Silverstone. A dedicated vegan and animal rights activist, Silverstone has even published her own animal free cook book.
Gladiator: Joaquin Phoenix
Noted for its visually stunning and utterly bloodthirsty portrayal of the Roman Empire, Gladiator saw men and beasts alike suffer a horrid fate, both in war and in the infamous blood sports of the arena. And overseeing all this carnage was the figure of Emperor Commodus, infamous in history as well as film for his savage and destructive lifestyle.
Yet Joaquin Phoenix is about as far from Commodus's self-centred blood-lust as a person can be. A member of PETA and winner of a Humanitarian Award, he starred in an advert advocating for veganism that was banned from this year's Academy Awards broadcast for being too controversial. Because of course murderous emperors are worth watching, but a man challenging meat eating is too far.
Next time you're looking for something to watch, try one of these films, or something else by these excellent actors. Then sit back and enjoy watching a fine actor who also stands by their fine principles.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.