MILWAUKEE — It’s another Beverly Hills gala awards ceremony that has lured actors, models and socialites. They glide across the red carpet and collect goodie gift bags typically filled with outrageously expensive accessories.
But these bags are stuffed with:
“I don’t think anyone has ever seen 20 shotguns on the streets of Beverly Hills,” said Patrick Kilpatrick.
At least not since 1984 with Eddie Murphy.
But this is all the master plotting of Kilpatrick, Hollywood’s veteran bad-ass. Perhaps you recognize the face: as the Sandman, or the agent meant to take out Jack Bauer in Season 4 of “24,” or the serial killer from “Parasomnia.” But Kilpatrick isn’t just an actor who has made more than 100 appearances in action movies or TV shows and started his own film production company.
He is an unapologetic elk hunter and hearty pheasant diner who believes in the rights and the principles of the Second Amendment.
So Kilpatrick was booked for his uniquely titled seminar — Hollywood, Guns, America and our Sporting Life — at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show. His message and purpose are the same.
“Most of my activity in this realm came out of complete and abject frustration with the anti-military, anti-war, anti-American, anti-hunting, fishing and archery, anti-Second Amendment coming out of global Hollywood,” Kilpatrick said. “So I really felt I needed to do something to counter that.”
He began speaking in favor of all of these things, and what he found — even in California, even in L.A. — were hunting and shooting enthusiasts just like himself.
Most Hollywood hunters had gone into hiding. The days of the Charlton Heston celebrity shoots were long gone. A polarizing figure once he became the head of NRA, Heston’s Hollywood reputation was that of a gentleman and a respected actor who happened to hunt.
“All of Hollywood would come out to this event,” Kilpatrick said. “It was his charisma and his position in the community that he was able to command that. I went there not knowing a lot, even though I was an actor and they stuck guns in my hands all the time. I left there with $5,000 worth of guns from Ruger.”
With no such similar events in its place, Kilpatrick began hosting the Hollywood Celebrity Sporting Clays Invitational, where the event last year promoted “full spectrum apocalyptic attractions, full-auto sub guns, live music, robotics, pyrotechnics, pistols, rifles, canyon archery and fly casting contests, firearms, bow and quick draw fishing rod, and tactical giveaways.”
“And I think we’ve come a long way toward altering the culture,” Kilpatrick said. “I think we’ve made it easier for people to say, ‘we’re pro-military, we’re pro-American.’”
The awards gala also aims to boost the group’s image.
“We all wear suits and try to reinsert some glamour to try to put the thing back into sort of the Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden era — all of those guys were hunters and fishermen,” Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick encourages enthusiasts like himself to help fund pro-hunting organizations such as the Clays Invitational, the NRA or the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He also encourages artists to integrate their pro-hunting advocacy philosophy into work projects — movies and TV shows to promote the sport.
“If you’re going to let, for lack of a better word, liberal media run things here, and run the film production company, then you’re going to have to take what you get,” Kilpatrick said. “Rather than shy away and sort of write off Hollywood as a liberal, leftist bastion that isn’t worth discussing, you need to engage and use the same techniques that they’re doing.
“The reason PETA functions here in Hollywood is they take over Paramount Studios and they have a big party and they give idiotic celebrities awards.”
The counter-fire, for Kilpatrick, is high-profile events such as the one he hosts.
The bottom line is that Kilpatrick, who has two sons, considers his passion for hunting equal to that of acting. He shaves down his hooks so he doesn’t damage the mouths of the fish he catches and he wears gloves to protect their scales so he can release them back into the water.
And he doesn’t want to have to hide the fact this is a major part of his life. He said he tried to join the Marines after 9/11 but was rejected because of his age. So he did what he could, entertaining troops in Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and Kyrgyzstan with the USO and being very vocal about his support here at home.
“Out here, begrudgingly, a lot of these people say they support the troops but they don’t support the war,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s not really heartfelt on a lot of levels. I would think that almost everybody would want to immediately go and entertain the troops. But that’s not how people feel.
“The people were immensely self-involved, the agents were horrible because their clients weren’t making money from something like that, so that was a source of frustration.”
The opposite became true for Kilpatrick, who decided to voice his support, unconcerned about public backlash or conforming to any Hollywood stereotype.
“I think that’s appalling. I would rather go to my grave without an acting career than to hide my life,” said Kilpatrick, who added he doesn’t shy away from liberal interviewers, especially when he’s on a talk-radio show. “I have no problem getting into it. It must be my Scottish, Sons of the American Revolution abrasiveness.”