Sean Astin is best known for his portrayal of Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in the hit film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.” His film work also includes roles in “Click,” “The Goonies,” “Toy Soldiers,” Where the Day Takes You” and “Rudy.”
Astin most recently voiced the title character on Disney’s children’s cartoon program “Special Agent Oso.” Sean has also gained acclaim behind the camera. His film, “Kangaroo Court,” which he directed and co-produced, was nominated in the Best Short category at the Academy Awards.
Astin is a social activist who believes in the value of civic participation. He served two years on George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and, prior to that, served for a decade as a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. Astin’s philanthropic affinity can be seen through his involvement on the boards of nonprofit organizations including the National Center for Family Literacy, the Patrons Association for Los Angeles Valley College and the Creative Coalition.
ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?
SEAN ASTIN: Honestly, at this point in my life and career, given the campaigning and advocating and lobbying I’ve done for so long, I would simply ask if there was something he or his administration thought, given my background, I might be able to do to be of service to him or on behalf of his government. If he asked what I had in mind, I’d say I always wanted to work at the State Department.
RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?
SA: I would remind him of what he already knows, and that is that he is an extraordinary, inspirational leader, and that even though it’s hard to find ways to do it, I think his agenda and his legacy would be well-served if he and his team found important symbolic gestures to make that illustrate the power of the leadership he is providing.
RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?
SA: Would you want to play a game of one-on-one with a hobbit? If I win, I get to ride on Air Force One. If he wins, I’ll do whatever he wants, which I would have done anyway because he’s the president of the United States.
RB: Would you ever consider a political career?
SA: I’ve always considered a political career. I’d love to be a member of the United States House of Representatives. If there are any serious party bosses out there, or cracker-jack politicos that might like to run a campaign for me with an eye toward being a chief of staff, I can be reached through the Screen Actors Guild.
Seriously, I respect the career politicians more than most Americans do. I think the work is, or at least can be, noble, and I think I’d fit the role nicely. But every time I hear staffers refer to governing and/or politics a bit cynically as a “business,” a little something inside of me dies, and I have to run and watch a Jimmy Stewart movie to remind myself what I love about my country.
Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.