Actor Sean Penn spoke with Fox News and MSNBC Tuesday night about the situation on the ground in Ukraine and discussed ways to support the war-ravaged country.
Penn was in Ukraine shooting a documentary for Vice about the country, its President Volodymyr Zelensky and the rising tensions on the border with Russia when Russia invaded Ukraine in February. As things began to escalate, Penn had to leave the country. He has since returned to Ukraine and also has spent time in the neighboring Poland both for the documentary and for the humanitarian effort though the CORE relief organization he co-founded.
Tonight, Penn appeared in person on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Hannity. Referencing the duo’s opposing political views, Hannity started off by mentioning how the two first got in touch.
“I made the first phone call to you,” Hannity said. “Do you remember what you first said to me?”
“I said ‘I don’t trust you,’” Penn responded. “But we have to get on with life… We all talk about how divisive things are, how divided things are here. When you step into a country of incredible unity, you realize what we’ve all been missing. I don’t think I’ve got time to indulge my lack of trust, which becomes a petty thing. These people are fighting for the dreams and aspirations of all of us Americans.”
Penn then provides details about the documentary he was working on, and what he saw while in Ukraine. He also praised President Zelensky, a former actor-comedian who had played a president on TV before he was elected to the office. “In him, I saw something I’d never seen before,” Penn said. “It is clear to me that the Ukrainians will win this. The question is at what cost.”
The two did not agree on everything, including the Reagan and Trump doctrines Hannity brought up multiple times, but kept the conversation civil. At the end of the interview, Hannity asked Penn whether he trusts him more after speaking with him live on air. Penn tried tp avoid the question but Hannity insisted. “There is a lot of physical therapy after a big car incident You don’t get it done in a day,” Penn said.
On MSNBC’s The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Penn also sang praises of President Zelensky, and how he is holding everything together, despite the raging war on Ukrainian soil.
“[Zelenskyy] is the face of so many Ukrainians. And yet, it’s not conceivable that he could’ve known the day before that he would really be able to rise up,” Penn told O’Donnell. “This is leadership that we aspire to. This is freedom of thought and true leadership that is just so moving. It’s the kind of moving that we need to be able to get [to the United States], which is borderline a kind of populist lap dance of a nation at this point. We’ve got to get back on track together and realize that Ukraine, with all its diversity, has a unity we’ve never seen in modern times with the challenge it has.”
Right before the Academy Awards in March, Penn went on CNN and told news anchor Jim Acosta that if the Oscars did not invite President Zelenskyy to speak he would smelt his Oscars.
“If it turns out to be what is happening, I would encourage everyone involved, 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. “I myself, if it comes back to it, when I return, I will smelt mine in public. I pray that’s not what happens.”
While the Ukrainian President did not speak to the Oscar crowd, he did make an appearance at the Grammys with a pre-taped message.
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