Sean Penn talks about equals rights for human beings, gay rights and the movie, Milk after winning best actor award at Oscars.
Sean, I asked you a couple of questions at the SAG Awards. You were talking about that, actually, you remember Harvey Milk, being old enough to remember him. Can you talk about, now that youve won the highest honor in Hollywood for Milk, what it means to you to be able to bring his story and how important you feel his story is? What Harvey Milk was and what he represented.
You know, that means a lot to myself and to everybody involved, not only in the movie, but to anybody who believes in equal rights for human beings, its pretty simple. And, certainly, what I mentioned from the stage earlier tonight, to see this culture of ignorance, and that breeds this kind of hateful expression, that these people have their signs outside essentially telling you that youre less than human. Theres nothing more important than the themes of this movie as well as addressing things that are simply, you know, entertaining, I think. But theres nothing more important, and so being part of something like that is a privilege. And when you see something like what you saw outside today, it enhances that.
What did you say to those people who were holding those signs tonight, if you happen to go back past Sunset and Highland and see some of those signs and what theyre saying?
Id tell them to turn in their hate card and find their better self, you know. I think that these are largely taught limitations and ignorance, this kind of thing, and its really very sad in a way, because its a demonstration of such emotional cowardice to be so afraid to be extending the same rights to a fellow man as you would want for yourself. I would ask them not to tempt those of us who see something more deeply than they are looking at it, as angry as they tend to be in a void.
In your acceptance speech, you mentioned President Barack Obama. Im wondering what you would like to see the president do in relation to gay rights.
We know his public position as far as the specific issue of gay marriage has not been, lets say, officially supportive of that. I would like to believe that thats a political stand right now and not necessarily a future one or a felt one. I dont think that he or that any of us, and in particular our president, will long be able to take that position. Its inevitable that this is not because its not a human luxury; these are human needs and they will be gotten. So hes going to have to, hell adapt. Right now I think its more focused on, more interested in what were going to do to tell him that we will support him in making those kinds of, or taking those kinds of initiatives. Hes got people dying right now en masse, and people are desperately poor en masse, and I think those two emergencies need to be taken care of, without him taking too much time about the details of how he approached civil rights. But the day is going to come and its going to come quickly.
Could you speak a little bit, you spoke very emotionally about your competition this evening with Mickey Rourke. Could you speak a little bit about your relationship and what you feel about him and sort of the sense of how you guys have grown together?
Ive been making movies for over 25 years and I cant speak for his consistent sense of me. Hes an excellent bridge burner at times, but weve had for the most part a very close friendship. And hes somebody that I alternatively looked up to and advised and directed, Ive wanted to work with and admired and quite literally had me, almost throughout THE WRESTLER, weeping. Hes one of our most talented actors, he always was. I dont really think of it as comebacks are funny, and we talk about it with him, but everyone in this room has to make a comeback every day. Life is tough. And I think whats sensational about him is always whats been sensational about him; hes one of the great poetic talents in acting that we have.
The words "passionate" and "commitment" are words that your friends and everyone around you associate you with. Do you know where that came from, and do you wish it on your children? Is that something that you try to instill in them?
Well, I think we all try to, we hope for that in our children, and by whatever means you attempt to instill it in them. I cant accuse myself of having those qualities, although I appreciate what they said, and I certainly strive for that.