Famke Janssen

My 5 Minutes with the President

Actress Famke Janssen is best known to audiences around the globe for her portrayal of Jean Grey from the “X-Men” film franchise. She currently stars opposite Jeremy Renner in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.” Janssen’s other films include “Celebrity,” “Goldeneye,” “Kiddie Ride,” “The Chameleon,” “Turn the River,” “House on Haunted Hill,” “The Faculty” and “Rounders.” She recently directed the independent film “Bringing Up Bobby,” set for release this October.

 Born in the Netherlands, Janssen moved to the United States, where she now resides. She majored in writing and literature at Columbia University.

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?

FAMKE JANSSEN: First, I would need more than five minutes, and I would discuss with him:

 1. Can we achieve racial equality in the next 10 years? What would it take to do so?

2. Can democracy survive the decline of the middle class? 

3. Has NASA or any other government agency verified the existence of life beyond our planet?

4. Who does he think is smarter: Bo (the family dog) or Sen. Jim Inhofe?

5. What have you done to govern that is as historic and unconventional as your campaign and the promises you made in it, respectively?  

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

FJ: Which investment do you think is better for the United States and why: providing a pledge of $5 billion a year for 10 years to build infrastructure for the 
1 billion people around the world who do not have access to clean drinking water and sanitation, which could prevent 2.2 million deaths a year (mostly women and children), solving one of the worst humanitarian crises; or buying 20 F-35C strike fighters a year at an estimated cost of $236 million for one plane, a line item in your current defense budget?

RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama as he hits the campaign trail for the upcoming election?

 FJ: Win. 

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

FJ: A bike ride with his family around New York City. There is just nothing better when the weather is beautiful than New York City on a bike.

RB: What CD/piece of music would you recommend that President Obama add to his collection? Why?

FJ: I would recommend Waylon Jennings’s “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.” The music is great and it has the benefit of helping Obama in swing states where white middle-class men and women might determine the election. Moreover, it might help Obama if he took a little advice from Waylon when dealing with entrenched, status-quo interests. To quote Waylon, “They wouldn’t let you do anything. You had to dress a certain way; you had to do everything a certain way … They kept trying to destroy me … I just went about my business and did things my way … You start messing with my music, I get mean.”

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

FJ: Only if I could be the mayor of New York City or the foreign minister of the Netherlands, my home 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.



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