Dreyfuss loves acting, but his passion is politics

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LOS ANGELES — Politically, Richard Dreyfuss describes himself as “intensely pre-partisan, and even more intensely anti-shmuck.”

The 66-year-old Oscar winner almost immediately injected politics into an hour-long conversation with actress Ileana Douglas about his life and career Friday as part of The TCM Classic Film Festival. Dreyfuss was even more outspoken in a later interview with The Associated Press, calling for a “civil strike” in support of the United States Constitution.

“I’m going to send you a copy of the preamble to the Constitution,” he said. “If there’s anything in it that you don’t agree with, don’t sign it; just send me back an explanation. You will agree with everything, because it’s beautifully crafted and it’s meant for all. And if I get 500,000 signatures, I’m going to call for a civil strike.

“What I would do is pick a weekday, and according to the time zone, 12:30 in the east, 9:30 in the west, you don’t go, you don’t do, you don’t call, you don’t buy. You don’t do NOTHING for 30 minutes. That’s not enough to hurt the economy, but it’s enough to get their attention.”

As you’ve probably guessed, Dreyfuss is even more passionate about politics than he is about acting these days. He still takes roles — including one in a current TV pilot he won’t discuss — but he doesn’t feel the same fire as before.

“I had this urgency to act,” he said of his early career. “And then after 50 years, I realized that it had mellowed into a friendship and I didn’t have to do it... I love acting. I love it. I just don’t have to do it.”

There’s no part he’s yearning to play, though he likes the idea of performing Shakespeare on radio.

What Dreyfuss does have to do, as a descendent of generations of activists, is express his frustration with the elected and the electorate and try to do something about it. (“From the outside,” he said, “it looks like America is taking acid.”)

The actor took a hiatus from Hollywood to study at Oxford and establish his nonprofit Dreyfuss Initiative in 2003 to promote civics education in American schools.

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