Sean Penn: If Ukrainian President Zelenskyy Doesn’t Speak at Oscars, I Will Smelt My Awards in Public
Two-time Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn sent a message to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday. While he acknowledged the people who argue there should be some distance between politics and entertainment, he also said, “there is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give [Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy] an opportunity to talk to all of us.”
If the Academy elects not to let the nation’s leader speak, it would be “the most obscene moment in Hollywood history,” he added. Furthermore, if the ceremony goes Zelenskyy-free, Penn, who won the top prize for his performances in Mystic River and Milk, said he would “smelt [my awards] in public,” though he prays that he won’t be forced to do so.
As Ukraine remains under attack by Russia, he also called upon all the award winners to take a moment to protest if Zelenskyy is not given time to make an address. “Though it is their moment—and I understand that—to celebrate their films, it is so much more importantly their moment to shine, and to protest, and to boycott that Academy Awards.” He also said he “hopes everyone walks out” if there is no appearance by the Ukrainian president. (All the nominees to Penn: gee, thanks, pal!)
The New York Post on Friday broke the news that Zelenskyy was in talks with the Academy and ABC about making “a video appearance” during the event. (The Academy declined to comment to the news outlet and ABC did not respond, according to the Post.) It is unknown if, should it happen, whether he would appear live via satellite or send a taped message.
Previously, Oscars co-host Amy Schumer said that she wants Zelenskyy to appear, but that it isn’t her call to make.
Penn, once known for lines like “hey, bud, let’s party,” is now making a documentary about the conflict for Vice Studios. He visited Ukraine last November, and at the beginning of March, said he had to cross the border into Poland walking miles on foot. Penn has visited many crisis spots across the globe as part of his work with the Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) a group he co-founded under a different name in 2010 following the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti.
While many online rolled their eyes a bit at the always self-serious Penn (and hats off to Uproxx’s Vince Mancini for noting that if he were to smelt his trophies, that also means he dealt his trophies), Penn did remind CNN viewers that Zelenskyy began his career as an actor. “This is a man who understands movies,” he noted in his plea.
Though television ratings for the Oscars have seen a sharp decline, with last year at an all-time low, 2021’s telecast still pulled in over 10 million live viewers.
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