BEVERLY HILLS, California — As John Kerry celebrated his Super Tuesday victories Tuesday night, some of the biggest names in Hollywood gathered at the Beverly Hills Post Office to celebrate their right to vote.
Andre 3000, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were among the dozens of celebrities who came out to support legendary TV producer Norman Lear's young voter drive, Declare Yourself. Guests were invited to vote in California's Democratic primary or register to vote, as well as view one of the original 25 copies of the Declaration of Independence.
"Anything to promote people to vote is a good thing," Dunst said, noting that she cast her vote for John Kerry (see "John Kerry Cleans Up, John Edwards To Drop Out Of Presidential Race"). "Our country in general is kind of a mess right now, and our environment, and I just hope that [Bush] is out of office."
Because Declare Yourself is a nonpartisan campaign, reporters were encouraged not to discuss particular candidates with guests, so Bush and Kerry's names were seldom mentioned. Instead, the celebrities, which also included Russell Simmons, Cedric the Entertainer and Alyssa Milano, spent their time on the red carpet talking about issues important to them.
"A lot of my friends who are sort of just leaving their parents' home and establishing their own life, they don't have health care because they can't afford it," "Moonlight Mile" star Jake Gyllenhaal said. "If there was something serious that would happen — God willing it doesn't — I hope they can afford it, and right now they can't. It freaks me out and it's a huge issue."
Gyllenhaal also predicted the environment — a topic he's been studying for an upcoming film — would be an important issue in the presidential election, and he showed off his new "I'm Young And I Vote" T-shirt, a reaction to the controversial "Voting Is For Old People" shirt (see "'Voting Is For Old People': Urban Outfitters Peddles Political Irony").
Jake's sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, also attended Tuesday's event, walking hand-in-hand with beau Peter Sarsgaard, whom she described as "the guy who reads five newspapers a day."
|Kirsten Dunst, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, LL Cool J declare themselves|
"The economy and the ongoing war and how much the government will be involved in our social lives, those are the three big issues," said Sarsgaard, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for "Shattered Glass."
In terms of the latter, sex-marriage was one of the most talked about subjects of the night.
"It seems to me to have a lot do with politics effecting policy, and that seems really dangerous to me," Maggie said. "I personally think the government shouldn't get too involved. It's hard to stop that once it gets going."
"As a heterosexual married person, [I believe] everyone in America should be able to experience the joys and pitfalls of marriage," Gabrielle Union said. "It shouldn't be something that is just for us. It should be shared by any two people who are able to commit."
Even Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of "South Park," had something to say about the issue. "Matt and I have been wanting to get married for a long time," Parker said. "Not because we're gay, but because we look forward to the tax breaks, being two single men. We think it's fantastic."
"Joan of Arcadia" star Amber Tamblyn was also against banning gay marriages, but was most vocal about the night's main cause: getting young people to vote.
"The things my mother and father and their mother and father worked so hard to get so we can enjoy our future," she said, "sometimes I feel those things are being lost. And I want young people to know, 'Hey, what you do now, or what you don't do now, will affect you 50 years from now, so get out there and vote.' It takes 15 minutes. Go online and find out what's important to you. Don't listen to your parents or go by who has the best hair or who looks good. Find out the issues that are important to you and go in and vote. You will make a change."
LL Cool J, who said he was frustrated by the lack of education opportunities for blacks, seconded Tamblyn's motion.
"If you're hurting and complaining but not voting, then why are you complaining?" he asked. "I just want to see the people who are deprived and hurting benefit from this system we have in America. I'm thinking more long-term."
Norman Lear will take his Declare Yourself campaign on the road until September, as well as hit the airwaves with a TV special and public service announcements.
For more political news, insight into the 2004 presidential election and information on registering to vote, check out ChooseorLose.