Every time a conservative bemoans Hollywood’s liberal groupthink a few exceptions jump to mind.
What about Tim Allen? Bruce Willis? Kelsey Grammer? Oscar-winner Jon Voight? Yes, all four lean to the Right, but Voight’s name matters most of all.
The 83-year-old legend may be the most vocal of any Tinsel Town conservative, and his body of work is comparable to many screen icons, past or present.
But how did Voight rise to the top of not just Hollywood, but the industry’s microscopic community of right-leaning talent?
Voight started his show business career in– where else?–New York City. The future star studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He honed his craft under the tutelage of Sanford Meisner, who also worked with Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Gregory Peck and Steve McQueen.
The young actor had confidence, if not swagger, at the dawn of his career.
“Once I made the decision to go to New York and start school again and learn to act, I was at peace,” he says. “I never had the thought that I was just testing it. I knew what I needed to do and I knew that I wouldn’t give up.”
He made his Broadway debut in 1961 courtesy of “The Sound of Music,” and spent much of the decade working in both theater and television. He snagged two minor 1967 film roles (“Fearless Frank,” and “Hour of the Gun”) before landing the part that changed, well, everything.
He teamed up with fellow rising star Dustin Hoffman, fresh from the actor’s bravura turn in 1967’s “The Graduate,” to play an unlikely duo swallowed whole by the Big Apple.
Michael Sarrazin officially landed the role of Joe Buck in 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy” before a money squabble led the creative team to go with someone else: the 6’3” neophyte with presence to burn.
Suffice to say they made the right choice.
“Midnight Cowboy” snagged an X rating for its frank sexual content, but Voight’s performance as a young man’s attempt at the gigolo game earned him his first Academy Award nomination. The film walked away with the Oscar for Best Picture and, with that, Voight’s Hollywood life officially began.
The 1970s didn’t just cement Voight’s fame. It enhanced it. He bounced from future film classics like 1970s “Catch 22” and 1972’s “Deliverance” to work on the Great White Way. He capped the decade with an Oscar victory for “Coming Home,” the 1978 drama about a wounded Vietnam veteran’s romance with the wife of an enlisted man.
Voight kept on working, but over time he expanded his canvas to include supporting roles and the occasional villain. He landed another Best Actor nomination for 1985’s “Runaway Train,” even if the ‘80s weren’t as kind to Voight. He suffered box office disappointments like “Lookin’ to Get Out” and “Desert Bloom” during the Reagan era, but his “Runaway Train” nomination kept him top of mind for Hollywood observers.
He opened the 1990s by tackling some small-screen work, including appearances in “Return to Lonesome Dove” and “The Rainbow Warrior.”
His villainous turn in 1997’s “Anaconda” showed a new side of Voight, a scene-stealer who understands how to embrace genre movie-making sans apology. More respectable roles in “Heat” (1995), “The Rainmaker” (1997) and “Rosewood” (1997) ensured he stayed on everyone’s radar.
He entered the new century without missing a professional beat (“Zoolander,” “Holes” and “Ali,” snagging another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Howard Cosell).
Some actors slow down over time. Others struggle to find consequential roles worthy of their gifts. Voight shrugged off both of these real-world concerns. His Emmy nominated work in “Ray Donovan,” the long-running Showtime series about a Hollywood fixer, gave Voight one of his greatest roles to date.
Playing Mickey Donovan, a character with a thick Beantown accent and an amoral code, he powered the series through seven eventful seasons. Fans loved to loathe Mickey, a deficient father figure who kept trying to connect with his adult children.
Voight even joined Hollywood’s franchise frenzy, snagging sizable roles in series like “National Treasure,” “Transformers,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Tomb Raider.”
Through it all, Voight kept the focus on his beloved craft even when tabloid headlines invaded his complicated ties to daughter Angelina Jolie. The actor’s approach started to change at the dawn of the Obama administration, when Voight decided the time was right to weigh in on political matters.
He opened up about his move to the Right around 2007, showing vigorous support for Israel and slamming then-presidential candidate Barack Obama along the way. He later supported Mitt Romney in his unsuccessful quest to make Obama a one-term president.
He’s grown louder, and less inhibited, since then.
Voight risked everything years later by throwing his full support behind former President Donald Trump, calling him the best American leader since Abraham Lincoln.
In 2021 he explained why he’s speaking up after decades of focusing solely on his craft.
“I know where I stand, and I have to say my piece,” the actor told CBS News while promoting his pro-life feature “Roe v. Wade.” He also said in 2019 that the modern Democratic Party “doesn’t represent America anymore.”
Voight sat down with The Daily Wire in 2021 to talk about Leftism in Hollywood.
Voight, who was the recipient of the 2019 National Medal of Arts, understands that art comes before politics. He even made an informal pact with “Ray Donovan” star Liev Schreiber not to talk politics between takes.
“I love Jon … I would do anything for him,” Schreiber said of his long-time co-star.
His “Coming Home” co-star, Jane Fonda, took a different approach. She cut Voight out of her life due to their differing political views. And there’s a very good chance he’s missed out on some juicy roles for similar reasons. His stunning lack of an Emmy win for “Ray Donovan” speaks for itself (he earned but two nominations for the celebrated role).
Media outlets routinely take cheap shots at Voight for daring to be an open conservative.
But even so, Voight appears to have few regrets about his political persona and he continues to find work into his 80s.
The newly empowered Voight is also willing to put his name, his legacy behind right-leaning projects. He follows up “Roe v. Wade” with “Reagan,” the 2023 biopic of the nation’s 40th president. Voight will play a fictional KGB agent while Dennis Quaid stars as the commander in chief.
Voight’s politics could have slowed, if not entirely ended, his Hollywood career. Instead, he keeps on working, including a potentially major new feature from Francis Ford Coppola called “Megalopolis.”