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Top 20 US Progressives: Tim Robbins


When it was released in 1992, the film Bob Roberts was the most effective and perceptive satire on US reactionary politics since Stanley Kubrick's 1964 cold war black comedy Dr Strangelove. It remains unequalled. This mock-documentary charting the electoral rise of a conservative folk singer and politician was the directorial debut of Tim Robbins, who also wrote the script and took the leading role.

Robbins was born in California and raised in Greenwich Village, New York. His mother was an actress, his father a folk singer. That makes him a coast-to-coast liberal with bohemian DNA. His opposition to the Iraq war and outspoken attacks on George W Bush's presidency helped turn Republican suspicion of a leftish bias in Hollywood into unshakeable belief in a conspiracy. Awkwardly for his shrill critics, Robbins is also unquestionably one of the best cineastes of his generation, earning multiple awards, including a brace of Oscars, for both his acting and his film-making.

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This article first appeared in the 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama