Sean Penn


America’s Truly Elegant Man

One of the greatest actors of all time, Sean Penn was handed the Academy Award® for best Performance by an actor in a leading role, for his work in the film Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant. Based on the true story of America’s first openly gay politician, Sean Penn never ceases in his bravery and power as an actor. Politically outspoken, as hate protesters picketed with signs bashing gay and lesbian people outside of the awards ceremony, Sean Penn rose to the occasion, using the platform of the Oscar’s® to speak out against the foolishness of discrimination and hate in all its ugly forms. We here look back at a wonderful Oscar® acceptance speech, from a truly great man:

SEAN PENN: ‘Thank you. Thank you. You commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns. I did not expect this, but I want it to be very clear, that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often… and for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone…

…And there are, these last two things. I'm very, very proud to live in a country that is willing to elect an elegant man president and a country who, for all its toughness, creates courageous artists. And this is in great due respect to all the nominees, but courageous artists, who despite a sensitivity that sometimes has brought enormous challenge (like for) Mickey Rourke, rises again, and he is my brother. Thank you all very much.

Backstage, after the awards, Sean Penn interviews with the press.

Q. Hi, Sean. Congratulations. You certainly deserve the award. I wanted to ask you, what did you say to those people who were holding those signs tonight, if you happen to go back past Sunset and Highland and see some of those signs and what they're saying?

SEAN PENNI'd tell them to turn in their hate card and find their better self, you know. I think that these are largely taught limitations and ignorances, this kind of thing, and really, it's very sad in a way, because it's a demonstration of such emotional cowardice to be so afraid to be extending the same rights to a fellow man as you would want for yourself. I would ask them not to tempt those of us who see something more deeply than they are looking at it, as angry as they tend to be, in a void.

Thank you.

Copyright © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. © 2009, The Hollywood Sentinel. Used with permission with kind courtesy of the 81st Academy Awards®.