Born in Los Angeles, actor and activist James Cromwell is the son of Actress Kay Johnson and John Cromwell, a blacklisted director who served as one of the first presidents of the Director's Guild. His stepmother, Ruth Nelson was a noted stage and film actress and a founding member of the New York Group Theater.
James followed in the family footsteps, heading to the south after the Freedom Rides to join the Free Southern Theater; an integrated company that toured the south. He was also a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and in the seventies, joined the Committee to Defend the Panthers, an organization set up to defend The Panther 13.
Cromwell has directed at resident theatres across the country and was the founder and Artistic Director of his own company, Stage West, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He also co-directed a short film, which was shown at the London Film Festival.
After returning to Hollywood, Cromwell received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar ® nomination for his memorable performance as Farmer Hoggett in the smash-hit, Babe. Cromwell's recent motion picture work includes "L.A. Confidential," Space Cowboys, critically acclaimed The Green Mile, The General's Daughter, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Bachelor, The Sum of All Fears, DreamWorks SKG's Spirit: Stallion of The Cimarron, Stephen Fears' Oscar ® nominated film The Queen, and Oliver Stone's W. He has earned Emmy nominations for his work on the HBO original series, "Six Feet Under," the HBO movie, "RKO 281," and the NBC drama, "ER."
Cromwell has also performed in many revered plays, including "Hamlet," "The Iceman Cometh," "Devil's Disciple," "All's Well That Ends Well," "Beckett" and "Othello" in many of the country's most distinguished theatres, including the South Coast Repertory, the Goodman Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, the American Shakespeare Festival, Center Stage, the Long Wharf Theatre and the Old Globe. He recently played A. E. Houseman in the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love" at A.C.T. in San Francisco.
In addition to his work with countless charities, and initiatives, Cromwell has served as a board member for both S.A.G. and A.F.T.R.A. and as Secretary Treasurer of S.A.G.