Sean Penn to Receive Honorary Cesar Award

Sean Penn

The French version of the Oscars will honor the actor at a Feb. 20 ceremony in Paris.

Calling him a “legend in his lifetime,” the French film academy said late Monday that it will award Sean Penn an honorary Cesar Award, the French version of the Oscar. He will receive it at the Paris awards ceremony on Feb. 20.

The 40th edition of the awards will honor the Oscar winner for his career and for “choosing his films with sensitivity and commitment,” organizers said.

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It cited his award-winning work, from Nick Cassavetes’ 1997 Cannes best actor winner She’s So Lovely to Tim Robbins’ Berlin best actor winner Dead Man Walking, as well as Penn’s two Oscar-winning performances, in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River and Gus Van Sant’s Milk.

Penn’s behind-the-camera work directing four films, including The Indian Runner and the Oscar-nominated Into the Wild, was also noted by the academy, as was his heading up of the Cannes Film Festival jury in 2008.

His performances in Anthony Drazan’s Hurlyburly and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s 21 Grams, which brought home prizes at Venice, were also cited. “He is one of the few actors to have won awards in the three biggest festivals in the world and won two Oscars and a Golden Globe," the French academy said. “A legendary actor, committed personality, exceptional director, Sean Penn is an icon in American film."

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Penn follows Scarlett Johnasson, who received the award last year, and Oscar-winner Kevin Costner, who was honored in 2013. Past honorees have included Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman.

Penn recently wrapped directing The Last Face in South Africa with Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem and last year’s best new actress Cesar winner, Adele Exarchopoulos.

The full list of Cesar Award nominations will be announced on Wednesday.