Actor and director Sean Penn said Saturday that if the Academy Awards planners said no to a virtual appearance by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, people should consider boycotting the awards show altogether.
During an appearance with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Penn — who is currently in Warsaw, Poland — said that if producers turned down the chance to have Zelensky appear, it would be “the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history,” and he promised to “smelt” his own Oscars in public if that was what it took to drive the point home.
ICYMI: Actor Sean Penn says the Oscars should be boycotted if the ceremony’s planners have decided against having Zelensky on the program. pic.twitter.com/4LI2YIiKcD
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 26, 2022
Penn began by saying that he was not speaking to whether or not Zelensky wanted to make such an appearance, only that he had heard event planners and producers had already decided not to allow it.
“Now, it is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it,” Penn told Acosta. “That is not me commenting on whether or not President Zelensky had wanted to.”
“If the Academy has elected not to do it, if presenters have elected not to pursue the leadership in Ukraine, who are taking bullets and bombs for us, along with the Ukrainian children that they’re trying to protect, then I think every single one of those people and every bit of that decision will have been the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history, and I hope that’s not what’s happening,” Penn continued.
Penn went on to suggest that nominees should boycott the ceremony, arguing that what was happening in Ukraine superseded their “moment to shine” on the stage.
“If it turns out to be what’s happening, I would encourage everyone involved to know that though it may be 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,” Penn said.
“And I myself, if it comes back to it, I — when I return, I will smelt mine in public,” Penn added. “I pray that’s not what’s happened. I pray that there have not been arrogant people who consider themselves representatives of the greater good in my industry that have not decided to check in with leadership in Ukraine.”
“So I’m just going to hope that’s not what’s happened,” Penn concluded, “And I hope that everybody walks out if it is.”
Penn was not alone in his hope that the Oscars would give at least a virtual nod to Zelensky — cohost and comedian Amy Schumer told actress Drew Barrymore last week that she had actually pitched a call-in from the Ukrainian President during the awards show’s broadcast.
As The Daily Wire reported:
She then told Barrymore that she had already pitched the idea, but that the show’s producers had turned her down.
“I actually pitched, I wanted to find a way to have Zelensky like satellite in or make a tape or something just because so many eyes get on — there are so many eyes on the Oscars. I am not afraid to go there, but it’s not me producing the Oscars,” she said.
“That’s why I love you,” Barrymore replied.
Penn has been in Poland since fleeing Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, saying that at one point he and a colleague had abandoned his car and journeyed the last several miles to the Polish border on foot. He was in Kyiv working on a documentary about the Russian invasion when encroaching Russian occupation troops forced him to flee the country.