Sean Penn Laments 'Timid and Artless' Rules Today

Actor tells Maureen Dowd he wouldn't be allowed to play a gay character, as he did in Milk
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2024 2:24 PM CDT
Sean Penn Laments 'Timid and Artless' Rules Today
Sean Penn attends the premiere of "Daddio" at the TIFF Bell Lightbox during the Toronto International Film Festival, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Toronto.   (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Sean Penn sat down for an entertaining interview with Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, one that documents how the 63-year-old is a "rebel with many causes," as she puts it. (Tackled are his documentary about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, his "gonzo journalism," and his varied humanitarian projects. But Dowd also covered topics of a more Hollywood bent, including:

  • Changing attitudes: When asked if he could play a gay character today, as he famously did in the 2008 film Milk, Penn replied: "No. It could not happen in a time like this. It's a time of tremendous overreach. It's a timid and artless policy toward the human imagination."

  • His famous marriages: Penn was married to Madonna, Robin Wright, and Australian actress Leila George. Don't hold your breath waiting for a fourth. He says he feels "thrilled every day" as a single man. "I'm just free," he says. "If I'm going to be in a relationship, I'm still going to be free, or I'm not going to be in it, and I'm not going to be hurting. I don't sense I'll have my heart broken by romance again." Of his three exes, he appears to be on best terms with Madonna. "She's someone I love," he says, adding, "It turns out it's a lot quicker to repair a friendship after divorce if there are not kids involved."
(Read the full interview.)

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