Sean Penn is speaking out over Will Smith’s Oscars slap and Hollywood’s response to it.
“I don’t know Will Smith. I met him once. He seemed very nice when I met him. He was so fucking good in ‘King Richard,’” Penn said in a recent Variety cover story. “So why the fuck did you just spit on yourself and everybody else with this stupid fucking thing? Why did I go to fucking jail for what you just did? And you’re still sitting there? Why are you guys standing and applauding his worst moment as a person?” (Penn spent 33 days in jail in 1987 for punching a man.)
To refresh, “King Richard” Best Actor Oscar winner Smith got up on stage and slapped emcee Chris Rock during the 2022 ceremony after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hairstyle. Smith still got a standing ovation later in the evening for his “King Richard” win, though his outburst led to being banned from attending the ceremony until 2032 (AMPAS did say he was welcome to get his statuette engraved). Smith has since given multiple apologies and returned to movies with last fall’s “Emancipation,” which was shut out of the Oscars.
Penn meanwhile is still incensed over the Academy rejecting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his friend and the subject of his Ukraine war doc “Superpower,” from appearing on the telecast in both 2022 and 2023. And Penn claims the slap never would’ve happened had Zelensky been allowed to participate in the show.
“This fucking bullshit wouldn’t have happened with Zelensky,” the “Daddio” actor said. “Will Smith would never have left that chair to be part of stupid violence. It never would have happened.”
Penn threatened in March 2022 to destroy his Oscars if Zelensky was not included in the ceremony amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the time, Penn told CNN that he would “smelt mine in public” in reference to his Oscar statues.
“I thought, well, fuck, you know? I’ll give them to Ukraine,” Penn told Variety. “They can be melted down to bullets they can shoot at the Russians.”
Penn did not end up melting his Oscars to turn them into Ukrainian bullets. Instead, he ended up giving one of his two Academy Awards — he has Best Actor statuettes for “Mystic River” and “Milk” to Zelensky. “I told him to keep it and bring it to Malibu after all this is over and his country is safe,” Penn said.
“Superpower” debuts September 18 on Paramount+.