Actress Kristy Swanson was known for slaying vampires as Buffy Summers in the 1992 hit movie, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Now, Swanson is slaying assorted trolls and Trump haters on Twitter, where she has emerged as a leading voice for tinsel town’s hidden, silent minority—otherwise known as Hollywood conservatives.
Like most Hollywood conservatives, Swanson tried to be quiet about her political convictions. But she was so affected by the entertainment industry’s level of contempt for President Trump, and by association those Americans who supported him, that Swanson felt she had to speak out. “I came out publicly as a conservative,” she tells IWF, “because so many people were bashing President Trump and his wife and family, in vicious and personal terms. I thought, ‘I didn’t do that to President Obama. I didn’t do that when Clinton was president. Why are you doing this to Trump? Please stop.’ I wanted to defend the guy. Because I like him, because I voted for him. Because I was tired of being quiet.”
Silent no more, the 49-year-old actress has mastered the art of the platitude-puncturing tweet. When, for example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her House allies (currently known as the Squad) called a press conference to denounce President Trump for his supposed racism, Swanson mischievously tweeted back at them: “The same people who are screaming racism & are defending the Squad have been attacking the color of Trump’s skin & telling him to Leave since day one!”
Swanson seems to find an element of catharsis in finally speaking her mind. “So many folks have asked me,” she tweeted recently, ‘How can you be open about your political views in front of Hollywood?’ The answer for me is a simple one. I’ve spent 39 years in an acting career pretending to be somebody else. Why would I not be who I really am in my own personal life?”
Swanson, who with her mane of blond hair and bright lipstick, looks every inch the Hollywood star, is married to former Canadian pair skating star Lloyd Eisler, and they have one son, 12-year-old Magnus. Eisler is supportive of her newly vocal role. “We have a lot of the same beliefs and thoughts,” she says. Eisler represented Canada in the Olympics five times and the emotional ties are such that he has retained Canadian citizenship. He sometimes jokes that, since he pays taxes, he’d love to vote in U.S. elections. Swanson teases that the American left wants illegal immigrants to vote, but not him.
Swanson seems to find an element of catharsis in finally speaking her mind. “So many folks have asked me,” she tweeted recently, "‘How can you be open about your political views in front of Hollywood?’ The answer for me is a simple one. I’ve spent 39 years in an acting career pretending to be somebody else. Why would I not be who I really am in my own personal life?”
Swanson grew up in a church-going family in Mission Viejo in Orange County, Ca., the daughter of two school teachers. “Growing up, I was exposed to a world very different from Hollywood,” she says. She attended Mission Viejo public schools until she left in the seventh grade to be homeschooled by her parents. By working throughout the year, Swanson managed to graduate from high school at the age of fifteen. Swanson had been legally emancipated for the purposes of work the previous year, and by the time she was sixteen she was living alone in Los Angeles and pursuing an acting career. Kristy studied at The Actors Workshop, the venerable Los Angeles acting school.
Swanson was busy from the very beginning of her career. She landed a role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a popular 1986 teen movie and “Deadly Friend,” a Wes Craven horror movie that came out the same year (Kristy was the “girl next door”). The next year she starred in “Flowers in the Attic,” a horror film based on a V.C. Andrews novel. Her work in “Flowers in the Attic” won her a Young Actress Award for “Best Young Actress in a Horror or Mystery Motion Picture.” Swanson appeared frequently in “Knots Landing,” a “Dallas” spinoff that ran on CBS.
Swanson’s breakout moment came in 1992, with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the comedy horror movie that made her famous. The plot was pure camp: Buffy Summers, a snobbish high school girl, is spotted as a potential vampire slayer and trained for the job by a veteran slayer played by Donald Sutherland. Buffy accepts the mission and quirky drama ensues with a cast that included Paul Reubens, Hilary Swank, David Arquette and the late Luke Perry. (Buffy later became a TV series with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the Buffy role.)
After Buffy, Swanson appeared with Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner in “Dude, Where’s My Car?,” and played Marlowe Lassiter, a sultry woman with a record who ends up married to a detective, on Pysch, a long-running USA Network hit series.
You may also have caught Kristy doing guest appearances on such shows as “One Tree Hill,” “Cagney and Lacey,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”She starred in a “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” episode entitled “Bombshell” in which she played a character modeled on the doomed but very blonde actress Anna Nicole Smith.
“I do a lot of interviews,” Swanson says, “and the interviewers always want to talk about Buffy. They say ‘Well, you really made a turning point with Buffy because she was a heroine with a strong character.’ And I said, well, yeah, absolutely. She was a fun teen-aged girl who found out she had all this strength and power. She’s a strong female character. But I didn’t break the mold on that.”
She continues, “I grew up with Wonder Woman on TV and Lucille Ball and Samantha in Bewitched and the Bionic Woman and Pippi Longstocking. So, there were strong female characters on television when I was a child. I’m almost fifty years old now, and I’m watching women having marches to say we’re not equal, that we don’t have any power, that we have no voice. I’m thinking, Wait a second, I grew up in the ‘70s. We were equal to men. I mean, the boys were equal to the girls in school. Women could vote. We had jobs – my mom worked. I had a job in show business. Women were very prominent in the world and are doing even more today. We do have power and I don’t understand why some of the mainstream media present women as victims or lacking power. I just don’t get it. I don’t know why they’re doing that. To control them, I guess.”
“I do a lot of interviews,” Swanson says, “and the interviewers always want to talk about Buffy. They say ‘Well, you really made a turning point with Buffy because she was a heroine with a strong character.’ And I said, well, yeah, absolutely. But I didn’t break the mold on that. There were strong female characters on television when I was a child.”
Although Swanson never shed her Mission Viejo conservatism, she mastered the art of keeping silent about her beliefs. “I learned that when I spoke out about politics,” she recalls, “or said that I liked somebody in public life, they—a lot of people in Hollywood—didn’t like what I was saying. They’d look at me funny or sneer. So, I just kept my opinions to myself.”
Around 2008, something happened to get Swanson in touch with other Hollywood conservatives—she met the late Andrew Beitbart, conservative writer and founder of Breitbart, at a party. Swanson recalls that Breitbart asked her five questions. On the basis of her answers, Breitbart informed her that her politics were “straight up the middle, but teeter to the right.”
The meeting was a game-changer. Breitbart introduced her to other conservatives. ““There’s this whole Hollywood underground of conservatives. There are more of us than people realize. We’d have lunches and events and talk about things we couldn’t talk about at work, where you can’t be open about your conservatism. You can lose jobs if you’re a conservative, and that is a big threat. I became part of that group—it’s like a fellowship, basically. And I really enjoyed meeting all these people.”
Swanson might have remained part of this silent minority—except that Trump hatred was permeating every facet of life in Hollywood. Everything was becoming political. Awards ceremonies turned into anti-Trump rallies. It was time to speak out. Not only was the political rancor hard to take, but Swanson believes the entertainment industry does itself a disservice by indulging in it. “We make great movies, great TV shows, stuff that makes us laugh and makes us cry,” she says, “and we need entertainment in the world. But politics shouldn’t be on the stage at ceremonies. People want to see Meryl Streep the actress, not be forced to listen to somebody’s political thoughts and feelings. If you have to express your political thoughts, go on ‘60 Minutes,’ talk on your twitter page, do something like that. We’re all entitled to our opinions about politics and life, and we need outlets as performers. But it shouldn’t be on the red carpet. It shouldn’t be on the football field, or even on the set when we’re working together. There’s a time and place for expressing these opinions, but there’s also a time and a place where we should not do so. We should be more respectful to each other.”
When Swanson and comedian Kathy Griffin got into it over conditions at the U.S.’s southern border, Griffin provided a genuinely shocking example of a lack of respect. After Swanson made a trip to the border, to observe first-hand, she urged people to support the Border Patrol. Griffin, meanwhile, tweeted that the wall would do nothing to address the problem of deep tunnels, apparently referring to tunnels dug by drug cartels. Swanson tweeted back that “we know about the tunnels” because her nephew, who was in the Army, “was blown up by the cartel because of their tunnels, he died 3 times.” Swanson nephew had, in effect, died three times from his injuries and was revived each time. Griffin graciously responded: “I’m sorry to hear about the death of your nephew who somehow managed to die three times. And thanks for telling me you don’t need my input, look up the 1st amendment, b-tch.”
The meeting was a game-changer. Breitbart introduced her to other conservatives. “There’s this whole Hollywood underground of conservatives,” she says. “There are more of us than people realize.”
Swanson’s latest project was appearing live- on- stage in Washington, D.C., in “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers,” a play Politico dubbed “Hamilton for the MAGA crowd.” It was the brainchild of filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who created the script of the four-person play using transcripts of the email messages, and subsequent congressional testimonies, of two Trump-loathing former FBI employers and lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page—the lovebirds. Dean Cain, another conservative actor, was Strzok and Swanson was Page.
It is live theater, with the actors reading from the emails messages. Swanson, who has dyslexia and had never done live theater and was worried about reading before a crowd, was hesitant at first, but Cain cajoled her into taking the role. “I was able to get some information about Lisa’s personality,” Swanson says, “but I relied mostly on her words, her text messages with Peter, which obviously were very flirty.”
Swanson and Cain didn’t alter their appearances for the roles. “I didn’t wear a brown wig.” Swanson says. “Dean did not change his hair color. We brought the essence of who they are and using their text messages, which I think were shocking. I have never done a play before, so it was really fun and a good feeling when the audience reacted so enthusiastically. They were stomping their feet, they were clapping their hands. They were enjoying every minute of it. And that felt really good and I felt like I’d done my job as an actress.”
John Fund wrote a rave review in National Review. “What do you get,” Fund asked, “when you take Dean Cain, an actor famous for playing Superman on TV, and Kristy Swanson, the actress who was the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and give them the chance to play a couple of adulterous, wildly partisan FBI agents working at the highest levels of the Mueller Russiagate probe? You get an outrageous play that had its conservative audience of 500 people howling at its premiere last Thursday at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Center.”
Swanson’s latest project was appearing live- on- stage in Washington, D.C., in “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers,” a play Politico dubbed “Hamilton for the MAGA crowd.” It was Swanson’s first experience with live theater. And it ended with the audience on their feet clapping and shouting.
Citing death threats if it allowed “Lovebirds” to be performed, Washington’s Mead Theater, part of The Studio Theatre Group, backed out at the last minute, but the show went on at the Reagan Building. It was Swanson’s first experience with live theater. And it ended with the audience on their feet clapping and shouting.
And if anybody deserves a standing ovation, it’s Kristy Swanson for continuing to slay the beasts, in her new-found, and much needed, role a voice for conservatives in Hollywood. Brava, Kristy Swanson.