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27 Mar, 2022 17:57

Sean Penn gives ultimatum on Zelensky speech at Oscars

The actor has threatened to smelt his statuettes if the Ukrainian leader isn’t given a platform at Hollywood’s biggest awards show
Sean Penn gives ultimatum on Zelensky speech at Oscars

American movie star Sean Penn is laying down the law with the organizers of the Academy Awards, threatening to destroy his Oscars if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky isn’t invited to participate in Hollywood’s biggest annual event.

Speaking from Warsaw on Saturday night in an interview with CNN, Penn said his understanding was that a decision had been made not to include a message from Zelensky in the awards show. He called for others to join him in boycotting the event if Ukraine’s leader isn’t asked to speak.

“If it turns out to be what is 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 the Academy Awards,” Penn told CNN host Jim Acosta.

The star vowed to make a statement using the best-actor Oscars he won for his roles in ‘Milk’ and ‘Mystic River’ if he didn’t get his way. “If it comes to it, when I return, I’ll smelt mine in public,” Penn said. “I pray that’s not what’s happened. I pray 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 the leadership in Ukraine. So, I’m just going to hope that’s not what’s happened, and I hope that everybody walks out if it is.”

Penn went so far as to say that deciding against inviting Zelensky to speak amid Ukraine’s conflict with Russia would be “the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history.”

The 61-year-old actor arrived in Kiev last month, just before Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine, to film material for a documentary on tensions surrounding the former Soviet republic. He posted a Twitter message on February 28 regarding his harrowing evacuation from Ukraine to Poland.

Penn hasn’t been nominated for any gongs at this year’s Academy Awards. He won his last Oscar in 2008, for ‘Milk’. The 2022 ceremony is scheduled to take place on Sunday evening in Los Angeles.

Zelensky would presumably have to participate remotely, if he chooses to accept an invitation. He has done countless media interviews and video addresses from Kiev as he campaigns for more international support in Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Penn reportedly met with Zelensky earlier this week and attended a press conference.