Alejandro G. Inarritu on Sean Penn’s ‘Green Card’ Joke: ‘I Found It Hilarious’

Sean Penn Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

When Sean Penn announced “Birdman” as best picture at the Academy Awards, some people didn’t take kindly to his joke: “Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?”

Penn was referring to “Birdman’s” Mexican writer/director/producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who directed Penn in “21 Grams.” The joke didn’t go over well with some on Twitter, who went online to voice their outrage.

But asked backstage about it, Inarritu said, “I found it hilarious.”

He went on to say, “Sean and I had that kind of brutal relationship where only true friendship can survive. When I was directing him in ’21 Grams,’ he was always making jokes … I made a lot of very tough jokes (to him) that I will not tell you.”

In short, Inarritu said, “I didn’t find it offensive, I thought it was very funny.”

Inarritu was also asked if he was really wearing Michael Keaton’s underwear from the film for good luck, as he had joked about in his Oscar speech. “I wish I was in a more intimate setting to prove it,” he quipped.

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  1. Mr Alejandro is not the spokesperson for all of us to accept jokes that could be taken the wrong way. Would you as a white person go up to black person on stage and call him my N*** as a friendly gesture! Hell no!

    • No but he allowed to give the context behind the statement to prove no offence should be taken from it. Context is very important, it stops people getting outraged for no reason.

  2. Proud to be a Mexican says:

    I find it so disgusting that so many are missing the point of Sean’s comment. He basically called the mother of his supposedly friend a BITCH. Sean’s remarks at the Academy Awards was extremely offensive and totally uncalled for. No wonder our Country is in such turmoil with RACIST comments like those exhibited by Sean Penn.

  3. Scott Pettyjohn says:

    Sean Penn may be smarter than you think… Two days after the Oscar ceremony and is the Twittersphere debating who was best dressed at the ball, NO! Whether you consider his remark humorous or ignorant, we are all discussing a real social issue, immigration. Most of you are woefully ill prepared for a serious discussion, but perhaps some of you may listen and learn a thing or two.

  4. Serjet says:

    The problem is he made it appear that all Hispanics are here illegally. The comment gave people the motive to talk about immigration and insult Hispanics. Mr. Penn was wrong in saying what he said. Whether he met harm or not the damage was done. Not to mention that he called Mr. Gonzalez’s mom a dog. I have no respect for Mr. Penn and commend Mr. Gonzalez for not punching Sean.

  5. marla smith says:

    You need a better “friend”

  6. LesterP says:

    Oh please, lighten up. As a fully grown human being, I’m able to feel concern and compassion for foreigners risking everything for a better life and laugh at Penn’s mildly off colour joke. The outragosphere is tedious in the extreme, and fuelled by the collective efforts of tedious people.

  7. Robert Gomez says:

    Sean Penn likes Hispanics. He’s best friends with Hugo Chavez

  8. Nov13 says:

    I don’t care if Sean Penn and Alejandro González sleep together tickling each-other all night etc.. this justification of a supposedly “inside joke between two old friends” is a bunch of crap! Because it became PUBLIC once he recited it to the world via the OSCARS. Thus this PENNDEJO addressed his prejudice comment to the world at the expense of me and my MEXICAN-AMERICAN people! >.< (Bet Oscar BigWigs coached him anyways..)

  9. afshin sooferian says:

    Sean Penn is an idiot man. Who gave that british actor his green card

  10. Klary says:

    We gotta relax a little more. Everyone is getting too tight about being always politically correct. Some people can take a joke and know how to handle it. We are too quick to judge. Relax everyone

    • Sage says:

      Amen . . . always trying to be “politically correct” is getting old . . . those who rail at statements that they consider not “politically correct” should read the 1st Amendment before they judge other’s statements.

      • Proud to be a Mexican says:

        However, if the tables are turned and Blacks were told to go back to Africa at the Academy Awards, how do you think the Blacks would react, they certainly would not take it as a joke or worse yet, would not laugh if their biological mother was called a BITCH.

      • Mary says:

        The first amendment works both ways. People can express opinions about what they have heard. Penn’s comment was incredibly tacky and inappropriate.

  11. IBK Vienna says:

    Hi to all humorless – mainly american audience! Leave these two “gran artistas” in peace and enjoy their bright sense of humor and let them celebrate their friendsship. Penn & Innaritu are two faboulous filmmakers – and to have this amount of success you probably must be much brighter than the average “Hollywoodian experts”. US commenters are just like censors and so puritan and pretenders – this double morality attitude is so annoying – come over to Europe to realise your next film projects – we are not that narrow minded and do understand your sense of humor… hard to bear this pseudo american moral…

  12. It could have been funny coming from someone else but Sean Penn has such a stick up his ass and he just seems like such an ass that nothing coming out of his mouth comes out as funny. I just can’t stand Sean Penn. He’s a fake lefty, badly and rapidly aging, wife beater. *Shudder*

  13. Tomas Agusto Mivergara says:

    I applaud, Alejandro’s great intentions here and I thank him as a Immigrant myself, however his misses greatly in the fact that “All immigrant groups throughout history have been marginalized, mistreated and seen as foreign invaders here. Only after long, painful social struggles were the Irish, Italians and Jewish seen as American, and to this day still African Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans and more than ever Latinos are UNDERGOING A STRUGGLE FOR DIGNITY AND RESPECT IN THIS INCREDIBLE IMMIGRANT NATION” So, Alejandro more than praying, keep making great movies and and representing us in this quest to earn some of that respect and dignity that we deserve!

  14. Heidijo says:

    I took it as a joke & nothing else……. :)

  15. Nov13 says:

    Huh..? Funny..? F***K the “Latin Times and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s” SELLOUT-ASS! It was point blank a strategic racist comment. Funny how now the Media’s trying to tell everyone to “Lighten up” after this was blurted out to the world at the Oscars. It’s irrelevant if it was an inside joke or not. Think about it people.. it could’ve been said behind the scenes like a real inside joke, not recited to the public that already is taught to not take mexicans seriously. What if Sean Penn or another white person blurted-out a Black joke at the Oscars, huh..? Would that’ve been something to laugh at & “take lightly..?”

  16. Kai says:

    See, Inarritu knew to keep their jokes away from the media. You don’t always have a chance explain the backstory to something that is said, thus offending the masses who don’t know what is happpening. I was stunned silent yesterday by Penn’s remark. Asinine and ridiculous.

  17. chileserrano says:

    Penn’s comment lamentably dimmed the beacon of socio-economic progression the awards championed this year. Joke or no joke, it was a regressive mockery of the night’s call to arms against such societal ills. Very disappointing, very inappropriate, very uncool spicoli…

  18. A Latino says:

    i was watching this with my family overseas and we all laughed out loud at the joke. Americans are too uptight. We Latinos are not as sensitive about these things. No chip on our shoulder. We work hard and love life and our families. Plus, Latinos won big last night. Couldn’t be happier.

    • Pirasu says:

      I am Latino as well and found it funny. Poniendo atencion en cosas que no importa seems to be the US thing. I hope Latinos never do that Sharpton/Duvernay dumb sh–t of protesting to be included. In a show based on merit, you would end up looking foolish with an undeserved/race-based award. No thank you.

      • Pirasu says:

        Latinos have more to say about inclusion, yet it does not matter to us. We are 1/3 of the movie-going population. African Americans are like 1/10. Most of their films are like Tyler Perry-ish. Oprah made this niche happen. His films are not very good. Spike Lee needs to feel valid also. His problem is he thinks that being angry and nasty is going to make them love him more. It does the reverse.

    • Ernesto says:

      And what exactly makes you “the voice” of all Latinos? I am happy you and Iñarritu didn’t feel offended but that may not be the case for a lot of people who have different problems.

  19. I still love ya’ Sean Penn. We all make mistakes and make a stupid comment now and then. It wasn’t intentional and it was a joke among friends. That’s not going to take away my respect of have of you as one the your generations greatest actors. It’s called forgiveness and that’s part of being mature and peaceful. Iñarritu’s speech balanced it out. It’s all good.

  20. Madelyn says:

    WHy is everything always taken out of context, they are friends have been friends for years and it was between them. Sean Penn did not go say it about all ….. Jeez everything is always an issue, people need to lighten up and have some fun

    • freetter says:

      Can you please explain what is the context of that joke?
      Sorry but there is no context on what Sean Penn said. The only context is that Iñarritu is Mexican and there are millions of Mexicans under the shadows struggling and demanding to have papers to move and work freely.

      That is the only context and that is why his joke was stupid.

    • robin says:

      agreed. it was taken out of context. everybody acts like little twits on twitter.

  21. LS Bell says:

    Awesome HE thought it was funny. But, the folks watching who might’ve looked up to him for whatever reason may not have had the same lighthearted reaction and why should they?

    • Michaelmas says:

      Sure. Once they worked with the director. Penn and the director have had a long time friendship and give each other a hard time all the time about stuff that others might be sensitive about. It’s not about the politics of who said it but about their friendship and working relationship.

      • Mary says:

        I think Inarritu was being polite. I saw his expression when Penn made that joke, and he did not look pleased. Sean Penn is like Kanye, trying to intrude on somebody else’s moment.

  22. Jenny says:

    I was following a live blog from a national newspaper during the ceremony and when Jennifer Lopez finished presenting they said they were happy there hadn’t been a repeat of the horrific incident at the Globes. A slightly tipsy guy making a fairly harmless joke about a pair of breasts that are practically in his face is hardly an horrific incident. That type of response from the media has rather anesthetized me to both their moral indignation and that of social media.

  23. Border enforcer says:

    Only spanish needed to know in USA is viva la migra, mohado, deportacion

  24. slick1ru2 says:

    I’m sure the people at Fox News along with many of their listeners seriously were thinking the same thing Penn joked about. That’s the true sad part.

  25. Steve Perry says:

    That’s the kind of joke you make with a close friend amongst yourselves…not in front of a Billion people.

  26. victor manuel says:

    No todos los mexicanos somos tan acomplejados de ser mexicanos como tu.

  27. PETER says:

    Chill out about Sean Penn, he is one of the most leftist, liberal, coke snortin’ Communists in the movie industry. Do you really think he’s a “conservative racist”? Wake up, folks, and smell the damn roses!

  28. Mr. Penn really dosnt care what others think or say.

  29. Jeff says:

    It might have been an inside joke between the two of them, but a worldwide telecast with millions of people watching isn’t exactly the best venue for an inside joke. The two of them might find it funny, but I can guarantee there are plenty of people (especially outside the U.S.) who will not see the humor in it at all. There’s a time and a place for everything, but Sean Penn did not make a wise choice in using potentially offensive humor at that moment.

  30. Mark says:

    He should have answered: The same son of a B… who gave your girlfriend her green card you son a b…. redneck.

  31. Miller says:

    It might have been a joke but, it was still classless. The thing is if someone had said to Steve McQueen (director of 12yrs a Slave) when he won multiple awards “who let this guy off the slave ship?” I don’t think many would think that was funny, even if Mr. McQueen might have thought so. What Sean gets away with in his personal life isn’t going to fly with everyone.

    • Mike says:

      You’re comparing slavery to being a legal citizen of another country… That’s pretty fucking stupid – more offensive than the comment from Penn.

      • Miller says:

        Actually I’m not. I’m pointing out that whether it’s a joke about Mexican or African Americans, it’s still racism. Sean Penn could be the best of friends with this man, it doesn’t change the fact that it was a rude and offensive joke to many people in this country. My grandparents legally immigranted to this country but, I still found it rude because I wouldn’t want someone making that joke to them. Unless you’re a native amerirican, everyone is an immigrant here. I like him as an actor but, the Sean Penn is a total jackass in the real world.

  32. PETER says:

    Sean Penn looks like hell. Is it too much coke, and I don’t mean Pepsi? Why did the great Robin Wright leave him? Penn’s a two time Oscar winner but also an arrogant, ignorant leftist. He should thank God that he’s got the USA to protect him.

    • Loren says:

      Jodete ya, chingoso. It was a joke. I am tired of African Americans acting like the world is coming apart. They were NOT snubbed. Make a good movie and that is it. Rise because you are excellent, not because of your ethnicity. Enough with this identity crap.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Really? How well do u know him? Admit it, you don’t. So, instead you attack his character, using old news and gossip. Only trolls attack people they don’t know, using information of dubious quality.

  33. JSB says:

    People who blubber on Twitter are morons. They missed the joke, what else is new. Do they even know this director’s resume`? Sheesh.

    • Mary says:

      That wasn’t the time to make a joke like that, or any joke. It wasn’t Sean Penn’s moment.

      • GKN says:

        It was very obvious to anyone who knows anything about either of them it was a joke. And especially now that Inarrito has explained it to everyone who didn’t get it; I wish the humorless, slow on the uptake PC police would just can it. Unfortunately, these are precisely the people who seem incapable of saying, Oops, sorry, it went over our heads! (because they know it all)

      • catherbo says:

        Very true. That sort of comment was inappropriate, joke or not. Just because it was a joke, does not make it okay.

  34. Frankd says:

    If the person who the joke was directed at tells you Sean Penn is a friend and the comment was said in good humor between pals, you are a race-baiting loser not to take his word for it.

  35. Mary says:

    Sean’s face is looking kind of rough these days! When he first made that comment I thought it was out of line, but then he hugged Inarritu and laughed, and I could tell they were friends, and that it was really just a joke. It was kind of tacky, though.

  36. Estrella says:

    I found it funny! (I am Mexican)

  37. David says:

    Joke or not, I hope his movies continue to bomb. Racist asshole.

  38. Border enforcer says:

    WRONG!!! AMERICAN is a NATIONALITY just like Mexican, Canadian, Argentinian, etc . What you’re implying are continents North America, South America. That’s why there are BORDERS which separates countries…..To say Mexicans are Americans is nothing but beaner propaganda!!!

  39. Serjet says:

    Mexicans are Americans. As people born in Central America they are as American as people born in North America. BTW, people born in South America are also Americans.

  40. 1st Grade Teacher says:

    Dear Mr. Enforcer. Have you ever read a map?

  41. Richard says:

    hey border dick…. Why don’t you learn to spell first. I am sure there are many of your “illegal aliens” who have a better grasp of the english language than you do… Go climb back in that redneck racist hole you crawled out of…

  42. Border enforcer says:

    Exactly! Illegal aliens need to be deported back home!!!

  43. HKD says:

    I think it’s pretty funny that you say that because as a Native American I feel the same way… And if I felt like you, well…”Americans” feel entitled to this country, when in reality is not your country either! So get it over.

    It is a country immigrants, unless you are native american…

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