About a month ago, Sean Penn became one of the first big-name Hollywood people to demand that everyone on a set with him—whether they work with actors or not—be vaccinated. He specifically said that he refused to go back to the set of his Richard Nixon drama series Gaslight (which is based on the Slow Burn podcast from Slate) unless everyone involved had been forcibly vaccinated (or, you know, given the chance to accept vaccines that had been freely provided to them by Penn), and now he’s saying that he wouldn’t it mind if unvaccinated people didn’t even watch his work.
Penn said something to that effect on a recent CNN appearance (via Variety), promoting his new film Flag Day’s theater-exclusive release. Penn said that he “would request only vaccinated audiences” for his new directorial feature and that “the unvaccinated” could see it someday when it’s eventually on some streaming platform, but he knows he’ll “probably offend them out of that choice” anyway. He says the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for everybody, “like turning your headlines on in the car at night,” but he knows some people in the U.S. will choose to ignore the fact that the vaccines are safe even once they start to get full approval from the FDA. Penn also went on a slightly rambling political rant about how American independence is really all about understanding “interdependency” and how getting vaccinated is an important step in actually acting on the important lessons we learned about our country in the last year.
Penn’s Flag Day, which he directed and starred in (a first for him) alongside his daughter, Dylan Penn, is about a daughter’s memories of her career criminal father, and it’s based on Jennifer Vogel’s memoir Flim-Flam Man: The True Story Of My Father’s Counterfeit Life.