The many sides of Sean Penn

Published: March 22, 2015
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With Congo as the film’s backdrop, Penn feels it was critical that the narrative had a history of suffering intervention at its epicentre. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

With Congo as the film’s backdrop, Penn feels it was critical that the narrative had a history of suffering intervention at its epicentre. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

LOS ANGELES: Sean Penn is not all gruff voice and intense gaze. He can have a good laugh too, such as when he envisions himself as a superhero. Of the thriller The Gunman, which opened in theatres on March 20, the 54-year-old actor and activist talked about what motivates him both on reel and in real life.

Discussing his character in the upcoming movie, he said, “It appealed to me in a way that a lot of action movies haven’t because the consequences of violence were present throughout, and yet that didn’t seem to create a ponderous weight on the energy of the picture.”

With the Democratic Republic of Congo as the film’s backdrop, Penn feels it was critical that the narrative was driven by the story of an intervention with harrowing repercussions. “What was important was that the epicentre of that narrative drive had a history of suffering intervention, be it political intervention or corporate intervention,” he said. He added, “There were also some real-life parallels related to the mining interests that had happened in Congo. That made it the appropriate choice,” he added.

Talking about whether he’d ever sport a superhero avatar for a movie, he quipped, “With this face and in this time of my life, it’s hard to say if I would ever want to be a superhero. Maybe, if there’s a very funny one.” Discussing his preferences for superhero films, he shared, “I don’t know what I would be interested in doing next. There are some good movies made on superhero stuff. But I’d like to see this business not drown itself in just superhero movies.”

Penn feels that criticism and applause are both part-and-parcel of an artist’s life. “Criticism will come more quickly, so will reverence. Generally, both are inaccurate. I approach work very much as a functionary,” he said about his acting mantra.

As ambassador-at-large for Haiti, he said he’d like to see politics redefine quality of life for people and for everybody to put their sword down and get to the table. “If you want good things to happen for a country like Haiti, then you need to provide the circumstances where the Haitians can do that,” he stated. “You need governance but you also need a middle class, you need agriculture… they need to be able to export. I think that’s probably the biggest issue, the job creation that could come with the kinds of things… Haiti has all the potential in the world to export.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, March  23rd,  2015.

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