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Chris Lawford was looking very cool and relaxed in his rev head promo shirt when I met him during his Australian publicity tour for his new movie The Fastest Indian starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.


I have met Bushes, but I have never met a Kennedy, so it was nice to meet a Democrat to even out the score. Christopher Lawford has an unbelievable pedigree. He is the son of Patricia Kennedy and the Frank Sinatra Rat Packer Peter Lawford. He has the unbelievable Kennedy charm, good looks and amazing teeth. He can tell unbelievable stories of being taught how to dance the twist by Marilyn Monroe, partying with Mick Jagger and of course his uncle was John F. Kennedy.


Lawford spent years caught up in the trapping of celebrity, high profile politics and cocaine fueled parties. Lawford admits he spent 17 dark years coping with his inherited celebrity and an addiction to drugs and alcohol.


But now you get the feeling this is a man who is finally at ease with himself, his famous legacy and his troubled past. Though Lawford has been on the road to rehabilitation for twenty years now he only recently wrote his memoirs, Symptoms of Withdrawl, about overcoming reclaiming his life and overcoming his addictions. “I couldn’t have written this book any sooner than I wrote it,” he said. “It was a terrifying book to write.”


Many members of the Kennedy clan are unhappy about the book. “People in my family don’t write books,” he said. It is a universal rule that Kennedys don’t kiss and tell. However Lawford felt he had to write the book to make peace with himself. “I am not John Kennedy. I am not Robert Kennedy. I am not my father,” he said. His book is not about the Kennedy family, he said. They are merely supporting actors in his life story.


Since getting back on track Lawford has consistently acted in a wide variety of movie and TV roles – everything from The Russia House with Sean Connery to General Hospital.


He has three criteria for taking a role: the money, an interesting person to work with, or an interesting role. The Fastest Indian filled all three of these criteria. He was reunited with his friend director Roger Donaldson, who has directed such films as Dante’s Peak with Pierce Brosnan and 13 Days with Kevin Costner, and he got to work with Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins.


Lawford said the 1950s cars used in The Fastest Indian are remarkable. The movie sourced them from museums. He said when it comes down to boys it is always about the cars. But although he spent time in the motorhead community and discovered how close knit it was, he didn’t get to drive the amazing rocket shaped cars used in the movie. “I got to touch the cars,” said Lawford.


Lawford has no desire to star in a Tom Cruisian block buster. He is very happy with the way his life and career has turned out. With a huge political background, a law degree, an arts degree and a psychology degree he said he enjoys the varied aspects of his life. Lawford comes across as an American renaissance man. He has produced, written his memoirs, acted, given motivational speeches, and is now currently working on a novel.


He currently has a television show called The Christopher Lawford Project in the works. Drawn from his own life experiences in both politics and the celebrity limelight, it will centre on a failing actor from a ‘Kennedy-esque’ family who runs for political office in California to raise publicity. “He doesn’t want to win. He just wants notoriety,” said Lawford.


“In America people are just obsessed with celebrity and they are obsessed with fame, and what is all that about. No one has really explored that in a really interesting way.”


Then the interview took an interesting turn. We hit politics. Although not surprising when you are interviewing a Kennedy. Lawford sees the arts as an excellent tool for social change. He feels arts community in America is beginning to take the lead in questioning America’s the political climate and starting to speak out. “I think this is great,” he said.


Lawford totally shocked me when he revealed he was on the ball with Australian politics, even mentioning the Labor wins in the recent State elections. He felt the political situation in Australia was similar to the one in America.


“You have a reactionary government and no opposition,” he said. “The world is in a big mess,” he said. “After 9/11 we had the perfect opportunity to say ‘why do people hate us so much they are flying plaens into our buildings?’ Is there any justification there? If you had said that then you would have been lynched. Maybe you would be lynched today. I wish there was someone in the world who was talking like that. There is no Gandhi today. There is no Martin Luther King today. There is nobody. ” 


Maybe we need someone like Burt Munro. The main character in The Fastest Indian, Burt, inspired complete strangers all across America to rally around his cause and help him take his battered old Indian motorcycle from New Zealand all the way to the Salt plains of Utah and beat the land speed record.


Lawford agreed: “The great thing about The Fastest Indian idea that people are people and our connections are what matter. You can come from a different culture. You can come to strange land and people will help you instead of hurt you. People feel really good about this movie because it makes them feel good about being a human being,” he said. I went away from the interview with the same sort of feeling. Not won over by the Kennedy charm, but by Chris Lawford’s charm.




Courtesy of Birch Carroll and Coyle Getamungstit has five double passes to Scary Movie 4 and five double passes to Final Destination 3.