Off the Cuff: Eric Balfour
Eric Balfour is a 30-year-old American actor who has starred in dozens of movies and TV shows, such as Six Feet Under, 24 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Eric came to Oberlin with fellow actor Kal Penn in support of U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency, and before speaking to students on Wednesday sat down with the Review.
Why do you support Barack Obama?
I think we all agree, and it’s not a secret, that policy-wise there aren’t vast differences between Hillary and Obama. But there are some specific differences and I lean towards Obama. Beyond the policy differences, this is an opportunity to have someone represent our country who can change the face of us to the world, someone who can connect and bring people together in a way that I just don’t believe the other candidates can. I would be excited and proud to say that he is my president.
Have you worked for any campaigns before?
No, this is my first. It’s like when you see An Inconvenient Truth. How do you not say, “I better fucking do something?” It would be so unethical. It would be a travesty! The way I see it, whatever Democratic nominee wins, it’s a win, but if Obama wins it’s like a basketball team going undefeated all season.
It looks like we’ll have our first black president or our first female president. It’s time to end the old regime and start a new era. I know some of the other candidates have their hearts in the right place, but they’re still attached to the old regime, and we have to make drastic changes.
Are you visiting lots of colleges?
This is the first college today, and we’ll be doing this until ten o’clock tonight at different schools in Ohio. It feels great to do something for the cause. When I showed up to do the “Yes We Can” video, instead of it being the typical L.A. yahoos, everyone was telling each other about how many phone calls they made for Obama. And we were having real conversations about issues for the first time.
Do you consider yourself really liberal, or more moderate?
I’m probably more moderate on some stuff. I’m a proponent of a flat tax, for example. So I guess economically I’m more conservative, but socially I’m more liberal. I think a society is only as strong as its weakest link, and if our lowest common denominator is really low in America, it hurts everyone. The democratic solution is to help each other. The dialogues get confused sometimes, like when Reagan said nationalized health care is the road to communism — it’s ridiculous! And you got John McCain saying no new taxes. We’ve got a $9 trillion deficit, and he wants no new taxes? You might as well sink us.
What message do you want to deliver to students?
I want college students to make as much noise as they can. We need a large, loud resounding boom. I mean, from storming the beach at Normandy to Woodstock, every great event in our history has been done by the youth. And I want college students to just talk about the issues, talk to everyone and get the word out there, talk to people while you’re getting coffee. I hate going to Europe and having people hate me! But anyways, people should go on the website www.barackobama.com, go out and make phone calls, go and get people involved.
Do you feel confident in Obama’s chances?
Well, you have to, statistically. I mean, hasn’t he won the last ten primaries? He’s won more states and more delegates, and he has the popular vote. He has that momentum right now. And Hillary — I don’t know what else she has to offer. I think her campaign is losing speed, and Barack Obama is just finding his feet.
Do you think actors and musicians are going to get more involved as the election gets closer?
I guess I hope so. There’s artists — Bono, for example — that have always been incredible, just in terms of what they’ve done for humanity. Tom Cruise, maybe you don’t agree with him, but he does a lot for charity. Look at Oprah. If there’s devotion to do something meaningful, instead of heroin chic, or instead of “let’s all get loaded,” then it can be really positive. Artists always make statements about the culture.
And last, what movie do you pick for winning Best Picture at the Oscars?
It’s a toss-up with La Vie En Rose, but I have to say Into the Wild.