Sean Penn Vows to Publicly 'Smelt' His Oscar Statues If Volodymyr Zelensky Is Not Invited to Speak
By Samantha Schnurr
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If the Academy did not invite Ukraine's president to appear at the 2022 Oscars, Sean Penn has vowed to bid farewell to his golden statues.
While appearing remotely from Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, the two-time Oscar winner did not mince words as he told CNN's Jim Acosta he would "smelt" his Academy Award statues in public if it turns out Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was not offered an opportunity to participate in the ceremony on Sunday.
"There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give him that opportunity to talk to all of us," Penn said of Zelensky, a fellow former actor. "This is a man who understands movies and had his own very long and successful career in that."
Penn alleged, "It is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it. That is not me commenting on whether or not President Zelensky had wanted to."
The acclaimed actor, who co-founded crisis response organization CORE, told Acosta, "If the Academy has elected not to do it, if 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 have been the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history."
While he noted he hopes that's not what's happened, "If it turns out to be what’s happening," Penn continued, "I would encourage everyone involved to know that though it may be their moment -- and I understand that -- to celebrate their films, it is so much more importantly their moment to shine and to protest and to boycott that Academy Awards."
A winner himself, the 61-year-old performer took home statues in 2004 and 2009 for Best Actor in a Leading Role and has attended the annual ceremony several times over the years. At the start of March, Penn revealed that he and two colleagues walked miles to the Polish border after abandoning their vehicle in Ukraine. Amid Russia's attack, the actor was in Ukraine working on a documentary of the invasion.
As the countdown continues to this year's show, Penn urged his colleagues to demonstrate their support if Zelensky was not invited to join them. "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 not decided to check in with leadership in Ukraine," he said, "so I’m just gonna hope that that’s not what’s happened and I hope that everybody walks out if it is."
Last week, 2022 Oscars co-host Amy Schumer appeared remotely on The Drew Barrymore Show and said she "pitched" that Zelensky speak at the ceremony.
"I wanted to find a way to have Zelensky satellite in or make a tape or something just because there's so many eyes on the Oscars," said Schumer, who is set to host tonight's ceremony alongside Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. "I'm not afraid to go there, but it's not me producing the Oscars."
Schumer added, "I think there's definitely pressure in one way to be like, 'This is a vacation, let people forget, we just want to have this night.' But it's like, well, we have so many eyes and ears on this show -- I think it's a great opportunity to at least comment on a couple things.'"