Sean Penn has taken a hard stance against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, vowing to publicly “smelt” his statuettes from the awards body if the organization elects against asking Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to speak during the live telecast of Sunday evening’s ceremony.
In a broadcast interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Penn argued that the Academy has an obligation to offer President Zelenskyy a platform to speak on Ukraine’s struggles as the country continues to combat invasion by Russian military forces.
“There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give [Zelenskyy] an opportunity to talk to all of us,” Penn stated. “It is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it. That is not me commenting on whether or not President Zelenskyy had wanted to… If the [Academy has] elected not to pursue the leadership in Ukraine, who are taking bullets and bombs for us, along with the Ukrainian children that they are trying to protect, then I think every single one of those people and every bit of that decision will have been the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history.”
Penn expressed his hope that the Academy had not come to a decision of that nature. However, the actor and activist urged those invited to boycott the awards ceremony if it is confirmed that the Oscars elected to forgo reaching out to Zelenskyy regarding a speech during the telecast.
“If it comes back to it, I will smelt mine in public,” Penn continued. “I pray that’s not what’s happened. I pray there have not been arrogant people, who consider themselves representatives of the greater good in my industry, that have [decided against checking] with leadership in Ukraine. So I’m just going to hope that that’s not what’s happened. I hope [every attendee] walks out if it is.”
On Monday, Amy Schumer, who is co-hosting the Oscars ceremony alongside Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, stated that she had pitched the event’s organizers on finding “a way to have Zelenskyy satellite in or make a tape” for the ceremony. “I am not afraid to go there, but it’s not me producing the Oscars,” Schumer explained.
Penn has devoted himself to operations around the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in recent weeks. In February, Penn was on the ground in Ukraine filming a documentary about the Russian invasion for Vice Studios. The actor has also spoken with President Zelenskyy on several occasions in the past month and is currently positioned in Poland as the country accepts Ukrainian refugees.
Penn has won two Academy Awards for best actor over his career, for 2003’s “Mystic River” and 2008’s “Milk.”