- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Sean Penn had something to say to the vaccinated (and masked) audience seated inside the Directors Guild of America on Wednesday night as they were about to take in the U.S. premiere of his new film, Flag Day: Thank you.
“Thank you most of all for being part of the solution with everybody here vaccinated,” Penn said as he walked to center stage, following introductory remarks from his studio partners, MGM’s Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy.
Amid a surge of COVID-19 infections due to the delta variant, attendees had to provide proof of vaccination while media and security also had to submit to a test prior to lining up on the press line. Further protocols, in line with L.A. County Department of Public Health guidelines, called for attendees to wear face coverings for the duration of the event. “I was sitting here thinking about how we all want to feel independent and we can’t have it without interdependence. We have a movie audience tonight in a theater which is so exciting. I’m so grateful to MGM for giving this a period of time for audiences to see it theatrically before it goes onto tiny phones.”
Speaking of that theatrical release, the 60-year-old Oscar winner had another message for unvaccinated moviegoers: stay home. On the red carpet ahead of the screening, Penn also told The Hollywood Reporter how grateful he is to MGM for distributing his film but he remains frustrated by those who still refuse to get vaccinated, a population that is driving a wave of vaccine mandates for indoor public spaces, such as movie theaters. New York led the way by requiring proof of vaccination for indoor spaces while the Los Angeles City Council just passed a similar motion that still needs final approval. As reported by THR, the National Association of Theater Owners won’t oppose the implementation of such mandates.
“Here I am promoting a movie that’s going to be, thanks to MGM, showing for an exclusive period of time in cinemas,” Penn explained of the film which hits theaters Aug. 20. “But I have to say that I do request people who are not vaccinated, don’t go to the cinemas. Stay home until you are convinced of these very clearly safe vaccines. We’ve normalized this notion of radical libertarianism and it really is a violation of the idea of interconnectedness. Independence cannot live without interdependence, and that’s what vaccines are. Vaccines are a great movement of interdependence.”
Penn and staff from his nonprofit, Community Organized Relief Effort, joined the fight against COVID-19 very early on in the pandemic by partnering with city and county officials to mobilize mass testing centers and later, vaccination hubs, in addition to providing much-needed services and supplies. He appeared at press conferences alongside L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and officials from the L.A. Fire Department who were also deep in the trenches working alongside CORE staffers.
During his opening remarks, Penn called out two special guests in the audience, L.A. Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas and Battalion Chief Kady Kepner. “What Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas did for all of us is extraordinary,” he praised. “Also a shout out to chief Kady Kepner who kept us all in line and in good spirits.”
Penn kept the smile on his face as he called out his son, Hopper Penn, and two “extraordinary” actresses who star in the film, his daughter Dylan Penn, and Katheryn Winnick. With his children in the film, Flag Day proved to be quite the family affair. Not only did Penn direct the film, but he stars in it as well from a script by Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth adapted from Jennifer Vogel’s memoir Flim-Flam Man. The intimate family drama, which had its world premiere at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of a young woman (Dylan Penn) who struggles to rise about the wreckage of her past and find her place with a father who is a notorious counterfeiter (Penn) and a mother (Winnick) who can’t put down the bottle.
Penn praised the Butterworth’s wonderfully written script and said somewhere near page 30, he couldn’t shake “the imprint of Dylan’s face on that character.”
“The first time he came to me about playing the role of Jennifer, I was 15 and it was a hard no,” recalled Dylan, shimmering in a Dolce & Gabbana dress. “Fifteen years later, I’m 30 now, and I just had a different view on how amazing this role was and how incredible the story is. [The Butterworth’s] screenplay is so beautiful and I felt it was something I couldn’t really pass up.”
So, with their debut collaboration in the can, will the Penn family work together again? Dylan didn’t hesitate before saying yes with one caveat. “I’d like to flip it around,” she said. “I want to direct him now.” Her father also needed no time to ponder the offer. “I know from the experience of working on this film that she will be a wonderful director and I would assume that if that’s what she wants to happen, it will.
It’s not just a pie in the sky dream, either. “Oh no, I have a script,” Dylan said with a smile. “I’m ready. I need the money first and then I need to cast him so I can talk about it more.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day