Supreme Court precedent supports the appearance of federal judges in works of filmed or staged entertainment. For example, back in 1997, Justice Harry Blackmun played Justice Joseph Story in Amistad (as you can see in Justice Blackmun’s IMDb profile). More recently, in 2009, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had cameos in a performance at the Washington National Opera.
We all know how much the Ninth Circuit loves to follow the Supreme Court. So should it be surprising that the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, will be appearing in a feature film this fall?
And no, it’s not a documentary about the legal system. It’s a fiction-based, feature film….
By the way, I intend no offense to documentaries; some of my favorite movies are documentaries. It’s just that Judge Kozinski has appeared in documentaries before, as you can see from his IMDb entry — or this movie trailer, for Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial (Judge Kozinski appears around the 1:05 mark).
(By the way, how many federal judges — besides Justice Blackmun and Judge Kozinski — have their own IMDb profiles? Feel free to note them in the comments.)
So which film will Chief Judge Kozinski be appearing in? I learned of the news when His Honor emailed me the following photo (look for Judge Kozinski on the far right):
In Judge Kozinski’s IMDb review of Atlas Shrugged, he gives the film the highest possible rating (10 stars), praising the “impeccable” performances, “gorgeous and convincing” sets and costumes, and superb direction. He concludes by declaring the film “exciting and rewarding for those of us who have been Rand fans for many years.”
Ayn Rand — author of the novel Atlas Shrugged (affiliate link), upon which the films are based — is having a moment right now. The Republican vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, is a well-known fan of her work (and looks great shirtless, as you can see via TMZ).
So how did Chief Judge Kozinski wind up in Atlas Shrugged: Part II? I conducted a quick interview:
DL: Congratulations on the film! How did you get involved? Do you have a speaking role?
AK: I know one of the producers, Harmon Kaslow, as my son, Yale, works with him from time to time. He invited me to be an extra in a single scene. I have no speaking role.
DL: How long was the shoot, and how would you describe it?
AK: The shoot lasted a single day, but my time on the screen will amount to a few seconds, at best. Interesting and complex process, shooting a movie these days.
DL: Over the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about the federal judicial pay crisis. So I have to ask: Did you get paid? Could moonlighting as an actor supplement your Article III earnings?
AK: No, I didn’t get paid. I did get a pretty nice lunch on the set and got to sit with the producers. All told, it was great fun.
And the movie sounds like it will be great fun as well. As noted on the official movie website, Atlas Shrugged: Part II arrives in theaters on October 12, 2012. So be sure to check it out!
Earlier: A Movie Recommendation from Chief Judge Kozinski
More Fun From Chief Judge Kozinski
Chief Judge Kozinski to the Winklevii: Please Go Away Now
The Eyes of the Law: Justices Scalia and Ginsburg at the Opera