In a recent interview with Variety, seasoned actor Sean Penn weighed in on the controversial moment from the 2022 Academy Awards where Will Smith struck presenter Chris Rock. "I've only met Will Smith once. He was remarkable in 'King Richard.'
However, his actions at the Oscars were deeply disappointing," Penn remarked. Penn, recalling his own 1987 incarceration for an on-set incident and reckless driving, questioned the industry's response to Smith's actions. "Why was I jailed for a similar incident, yet Smith receives applause for his?" Penn challenged.
Penn: Zelensky's Presence, Smith's Restraint
In a surprising turn, Penn pondered the outcome had Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended the Oscars. "Had Zelensky been present, I believe Smith would've stayed seated.
Such senseless aggression would've been absent," Penn asserted. Penn has been closely associated with Zelensky while working on his forthcoming documentary, "Superpower." The film focuses on the Ukrainian leader's journey amidst the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Penn expressed deep resentment regarding the Oscars producer's decision to exclude Zelensky from the ceremony. He believes that their search for a 'light-hearted' touch ironically made room for the Smith-Rock incident. "Instead of a global leader's profound message, the stage was given to Will's impulsive act," Penn lamented.
Elaborating on his time with Zelensky, Penn shared his astonishment at the leader's dedication. Even amidst the turmoil of the invasion, Zelensky stayed committed to his engagements. "In the midst of chaos and threats, he honored our meeting.
His unwavering focus and warmth were palpable," Penn reflected. He vividly remembered the intensity of Zelensky's presence during the invasion's early days. "You could see his clarity, the determination. It was evident he was in this for the long haul, standing firm despite being a prime target," Penn said, deeply impressed by the Ukrainian President's resilience.
Recapping the Oscars' incident, Rock had taken a humorous jab at Jada Pinkett Smith, which prompted an unexpected reaction from her husband, Will Smith. Sources confirmed in March 2023 that Smith was regretful and had made efforts to reconcile with Rock post the Awards.
In Penn's view, these controversies should provoke deeper reflections within the industry, urging for a more responsible and respectful approach in future events.