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Actor Sean Penn says he'll destroy his own Oscar if Ukraine's Zelenskyy isn't allowed to speak during broadcast

NBC News logo NBC News 2022-03-27 Kalhan Rosenblatt
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Actor Sean Penn says he will destroy his Academy Award if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn't allowed to speak during the broadcast.

In an interview with CNN, Penn, 61, said having Zelenskyy speak during Sunday's broadcast was of the utmost importance.

"There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give him that opportunity to talk to all of us," Penn said.

He said if Zelenskyy isn't given the floor for an address during the broadcast, Penn will destroy his own Oscar.

"When I return, I will smelt mine in public," he said. "I pray that’s not what happens."

Penn, who spoke from Warsaw, Poland, was recently in Ukraine making a documentary about the conflict between the nation and Russia.


Video: Sean Penn back from Ukraine: Zelenskyy was 'born for this' (MSNBC)

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The actor is making the documentary with VICE Studios, in association with VICE World News and Endeavor Content, a spokesperson for VICE confirmed in February.

During the interview, Penn reminded viewers that Zelenskyy is also a fellow thespian with a long career in the arts.

"And, by the way, this a man who understands movies and had his own very long and successful career in that," Penn said.

Earlier this month, Netflix announced that the popular political satire TV series, “Servant of the People,” in which Zelenskyy stars, would returned to the streaming platform.

“You asked and it’s back!” the company tweeted. “Servant of the People is once again available on Netflix in the US. The 2015 satirical comedy series stars Volodymyr Zelenskyy playing a teacher who unexpectedly becomes President after a video of him complaining about corruption suddenly goes viral.”

Penn said that although he was under the impression Zelenskyy had not been permitted to speak at the show, he hoped he was wrong.

He said if Zelenskyy was not permitted to speak, it would be a moment that echoes through the history of the industry forever.

"Now, it is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it ... if the Academy has elected not to do it, if the presenters have 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 be the most obscene moment in Hollywood history," Penn said.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not immediately return a request for comment.

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