Exclusive: 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Actor Blasts Woke Capitalism

By Rob Shimshock | June 21, 2021 | 1:54pm EDT
Greg Ellis attends the 2019 Wish Gala on November 20, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo credit: Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles)
Greg Ellis attends the 2019 Wish Gala on November 20, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo credit: Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles)

"Pirates of the Caribbean" and "24" actor Greg Ellis blasted woke capitalism, the left's push for equality of outcome, and a "broken" family court system in an interview with CNSNews.

"Look, any society racist enough to warrant woke politics is too racist to implement them and any society woke enough to implement them is not racist enough to warrant them," said Ellis, who played Lieutenant Commander Theodore Groves in "Pirates of the Caribbean." "A society that implements them is systemically woke, not systemically racist and it’s deluded. And that’s what we’re seeing: the woke delusion or the woke paradox." 

The actor, who also played Michael Amador in "24" and has voice-acted in more than 100 video games, also discussed his new book, “The Respondent: Exposing the Cartel of Family Law,” out June 29, pinpointing the breakdown of the family as the "single biggest threat" to American society.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

Rob Shimshock: Hello there, I’m Rob Shimshock, commentary editor at CNSNews and today I’m joined by TV actor and director, Greg Ellis, whom you might recognize from "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "24," and whose voice -- when he starts speaking in just a moment -- you might recall from video game series like "Tomb Raider" and "Dragon Age." Greg is part of a rare species in Hollywood called conservatives and we’re delighted to talk to him about cancel culture, just how hostile the entertainment industry has become to heartland American values, and what Americans might be able to do about that. Greg, thanks for coming on today. 

Greg Ellis: Thanks for having me, Rob. It’s good to be here. 

Shimshock: So Greg, when people hear about liberal Hollywood, they often think about celebrities making zany tweets, but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg. When I look at left-wing values promoted by various industries, I like to break it down into two sectors: the first one would be the actual product or service that’s created, or what the public sees. So, compared with other industries, Greg, say academia or the news media, how extreme and pervasive are the left-wing messages released by Hollywood?

Ellis: Yeah, I think it’s not necessarily the left-wing messages; it’s the radical, postmodern, progressive, extreme left-wing messages; that’s what concerns me. And I think there’s an echo from what’s going on in Hollywood, all the way through, or a similarity, I should say, a parallel with what’s happened to academia, what’s happened with the publishing industry. In fact, capitalism in general, it seems like we’re living in an era of woke capitalism, in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism. And personally, I love America. I’m an immigrant. I’m a citizen. I was naturalized, and I see in Hollywood much of the story-making, and the storytellers, and the decision-makers coming from a place of fear right now, not wanting to offend, not wanting to get involved in the oppression olympics, and making decisions based on equality of outcome, rather than equality of opportunity and talent-driven -- immutable characteristics aren’t talent. Talent is talent, and experience is experience, and many people are actually leaving Hollywood because of the decisions that Hollywood is making. And I think we can see in the content and the product that the quality is going down because of a fear-based decision-making. 

Shimshock: Yeah and it’s interesting that you mention that about the woke capitalism because many of these companies who are beneficiaries of some of the policies that conservatives, people in the center of the road espouse are sometimes the most unfavorable when it comes to their outlook on the very people who are trying to help them. Now, the second dimension I always analyze is the internal one, which is training, recruitment, and advancement. There are, of course, the Hollywood award ceremonies, which are constantly being pushed to have more of the surface-level diversity, not necessarily diversity of thought, all while their ratings decline. And last month, we gained insight into a critical race theory program at Disney that the company was using to indoctrinate employees with things like a white privilege checklist. Disney, fortunately, unpublished this after backlash. So, again, compared with other industries, how extreme and pervasive are internal practices, like affirmative action, these diversity workshops, industry blacklists, and the like in Hollywood? 

Ellis: I think we’re only just beginning to find out how deeply they’ve been implemented. I think last year, we found out that it was the CRT [critical race theory] programs were being implemented in government, the military recently with the draft, there’s been discussion about that. Here in Hollywood, while you look at awards shows, and it’s awards shows are broke because they went woke. From Kevin Hart a couple of years ago with the Oscars to the cancellation of the Golden Globes, I think we’re going to see the continual decline of the quality of awards shows, not the least of which because you have people like Steven Soderbergh, who’s a great film director, directing an award show. That doesn’t make sense. And in terms of CRT, look, any society racist enough to warrant woke politics is too racist to implement them and any society woke enough to implement them is not racist enough to warrant them. A society that implements them is systemically woke, not systemically racist and it’s deluded. And that’s what we’re seeing: the woke delusion or the woke paradox. And it’s across the board in our culture and we really need to be speaking up and out about this ridiculous upside-down that’s going on in every area of our culture, mainstream media and news, in the entertainment industry, in academia, and really start championing people who are speaking up and out and also call out the people who are speaking this ridiculous nonsense. I mean I just read recently, and heard, that CRT is being implemented in K-12. Really? We’re going to start institutionalizing racism to 5 and 6 and 7-year-olds? No, no. We can teach the history of America, can’t we? And then separate that from a theory that is inherently racist and teaching children to segregate and look at each other based on the color of their skin and their immutable characteristics. That’s nonsense, it’s divisive, and we shouldn’t have that.  

Shimshock: Now, speaking to the kids here, now Greg, your work has been seen and heard from people spanning numerous demographics and I want to zero in on this particular group which is children. I have noticed an uptick in radical left-wing propaganda aimed at children. Just this month, Pride Month, we’ve had an LGBT-themed Lego set which is $35 despite being one of the most simplistic sets I’ve ever seen. It’s literally just a multi-colored background with 11 mini figures. Business Insider also released a database of 259 LGBTQ characters, cartoon characters that “bust the myth that kids can’t handle inclusion.” There was apparently a 222% increase in these characters from 2017 to 2019. So, Greg, why are we seeing all of the targeting of kids by the entertainment industry with some of these radical messages and what can parents do about it? 

Ellis: Well, like I said earlier on, I think we’re seeing much of this because woke capitalism sells. And what can we do about it? Well, look, I don’t know about the specific Lego set that you’re talking about; I will just say, I think this notion of DEI or diversity, equity, and inclusion is spoken of as a package deal and I think we need to start thinking about them one by one. Diversity, if we think about it, is neither inherently good nor bad. Equity, that is equal outcomes, as opposed to equal opportunities, is as bad as communism. And inclusion, personally I think inclusion is as good a value as I can think of. This very brilliant and very clever ideology pushed by people like Robin DiAngelo in her book. She gets paid $20,000-$30,000 for her speeches that basically are telling black people how weak they are. This is wrong; it’s nonsense. We should be empowering people and not coming through the racial lense all the time.

Shimshock: Now, Hollywood, as with any other industry, is made up of various tiers of people. So, you have the actors, you have the writers, you’ve got the directors, all the way up to the studio heads. If you could pinpoint for us, Greg, one group in the industry that is most responsible for the propaganda we’re seeing, which would it be and whether it's through petitions, voting with their feet, how can conservative viewers or viewers center of the road go about fighting back?  

Ellis: I don’t know if there’s one particular group within a department in Hollywood. I think there are many people who are afraid to speak out. I think the cost to speaking out and speaking out, it’s pretty harsh. You can be cancelled, judged, and not work again. But I think it's time in America that we take a stand and speak up and out as individuals. I think what we’re seeing here is maybe a philosophical and ideological war, if you will, and I don’t use the term lightly. But in terms of the arguments being made and the opinions being put out there between the individual and the group and as a classical liberal myself at heart, I believe in the individual. Kimberly Crenshaw, who originated intersectionality, she talked about the symbol of the intersection, but what I think she failed to talk about was that at that intersection and the symbology of it, is an individual; it’s not a group. We are all individuals. So, I believe in the individual and individual rights and I think here in Hollywood and on movie sets, there are going to be people who have different opinions. But I do see a lot of Hollywood elitism and people afraid to speak up and out about these issues, like I said, because we get tarnished, cancelled, and we’re not drinking the Kool Aid, or the woke aid. 

Shimshock: Right, now I know you’ve got a book coming out on the breakdown of the American family and it’s coming out at the end of this month; it’s called “The Respondent: Exposing the Cartel of Family Law.” Could you tell us a bit about it, including who you found is most culpable for this tragedy? 

Ellis: Yeah, the book is out on June 29. It’s part memoir, part meditation, part manifesto. It’s a portrait of perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the American legal system. And it’s part guidebook as well and hopefully parents and families and people going through divorce, people who've been through divorce, people who know someone who is in a relationship and is having challenges -- I think it will benefit them. It’s a true story and it’s my true story.

But it’s also one shared by millions of parents, particularly fathers and boys forsaken by our country’s broken family court system. Family breakdown is the single biggest threat, I believe, to American society. Everyday, 4,000 children lose a parent because of our archaic and inhumane family court system. That’s 4,000 children a day for every 8 hours the family courts are open. I talk about male mental health, men's mental health; every day, 10 divorced men commit suicide, take their own lives, and now 1 in 3 children in America live without their father. I think we have a fatherlessness crisis. When I looked at the statistics, America is the world leader in so many things; we should be ashamed of the fact that America is the world leader in children growing up in single-parent families. I expose the cartel of family law, the $60 billion a year industry that profits at the expense of families, that is positioned and incentivized to break down the family unit. Family law justice is not blind. Courts presiding over divorce and child custody are not neutral. Abuses of power shielded by judicial immunity are not often checked. And no one’s held accountable, family law is not held accountable, not even answerable to the Supreme Court. So I expose this state-sanctioned armageddon for children and I don’t say that lightly. Through the lens of my own story, March 5, 2015 I was at home with my boys, the meaning of my life, and law enforcement showed up, entered my home without a warrant, handcuffed me, removed me, the first of 5 incarcerations, all based on a 10-word lie. And that speaks to the one branch of our legal system that does not have presumption of innocence. And that’s the one branch of our legal system, family law, where we should prioritize having the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof, like jurisprudence in every other area of the law, being on the accuser, not the accused. Why do criminals get more rights than families, parents, and law-abiding citizens? Baffles me.

Shimshock: Yeah, definitely a crucial subject. Thanks so much for joining us, Greg, and we look forward to seeing what’s next for you. 

Ellis: Thanks Rob, really appreciate being on. Thank you.

Shimshock: Take care.                              

Rob Shimshock is the commentary editor at CNSNews.com. He has covered education, culture, media, technology, and politics for a variety of national outlets, hosted the Campus Unmasked YouTube show, and was named to The Washington Examiner's "30 Under 30" list. Shimshock graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Media Studies.

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