Although she has acted in over 50 Hollywood films, Daryl Hannah is anything but a normal movie star.
Along with being widely recognized for her role in the “Kill Bill” movies, as well as the 1984 movie “Splash,” Hannah is popularly considered an environmental activist, and for good reason. She has been arrested five times for actions of civil disobedience, three in opposition of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“If you look at it, there are no positives,” she said. “Except putting more money in politicians’ pockets.”
She is the founder of the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, a certification program for sustainably produced, harvested and distributed biofuels. Her car, a ‘Kill Bill’ Trans AM, runs completely on alcohol.
She said she feels guilty about flying so often because of air travel’s environmental impact, and she cleans her house with vinegar to avoid carcinogens commonly found in cleaning supplies. She is also a strict vegetarian who would be completely vegan if it wasn’t for her love of goat cheese.
But, she doesn’t consider herself an environmental activist. It’s too narrow of a definition. She loves life, she says, and people protect what they love.
“People like to put ‘-ist’ at the end of words,” Hannah said. “I fight just as hard against slavery just as I do about having uncontaminated water.”
Hannah spoke to a group of roughly 100 students Wednesday night at Platcha Auditorium as the keynote speaker of Earth Week, sponsored by Program Board and the Student Environmental Alliance.
Hannah said she isn’t one for bringing attention to herself. Acting was a method of escape, not fame, and she goes on television because of a sense of obligation, not because she wants to. Following suit, she decided to forgo a speech and move right into question and answer.
“I hope I am not leading the discussion,” Hannah said before the event. “I hope the audience tells me their questions and concerns. I don’t have a plan, because that is a nature of a true conversation.”
However, she did press that environmental concerns are a much more crucial issue than almost anyone gives them credit for.
“The World Bank report on climate change is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read,” Hannah said. “I can’t believe everyone isn’t in the streets screaming (for) help.”
Hannah also spoke out against corporations, who were over-emphasizing processed foods and over-pricing organic foods.
“Companies decided if people were really interested in not getting cancer, they will pay more,” Hannah said. “… Therefore, you have to be wealthy not to be poisoned. That’s not right.”
Hannah said the problems facing us are almost numerous beyond count, but she said there is great hope. The environmental movement will succeed in time.
“When the Berlin Wall fell, no one knew when it was going to fall,” Hannah said. “No politicians, no experts, no journalists. Nobody knew it was going to fall, but it did, and the whole world was changed. I guarantee you things will change. That’s the very essence of life.”
Andrew Harrington, an Akron senior, said the event made him think critically about the impact he makes on the environment.
“It makes you think twice about many environmental factors,” Harrington said. “Things that are a part of your life that you don’t even think about.”
Livonia junior Robert Bidner said he was surprised how little Hannah acted like a movie star.
“She was way down-to-earth,” Bidner said. “You don’t expect that from a movie star. You expect them to be full of themselves.”