Sean Penn Criticizes Academy Over Zelenskyy’s Exclusion, Lambasts Will Smith’s Oscar Outburst

Actor Sean Penn has expressed profound discontent with the Academy Awards for not allowing Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to address the 2022 Oscars ceremony. Penn, a vocal supporter of Ukraine amid the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia, was vocally distressed by the decision.

In an impassioned statement to Variety, Penn said: “The Oscars producer thought, ‘Oh, he’s [Zelenskyy] not light-hearted enough.’ Well, guess what you got instead? Will Smith!”

Penn’s ardent advocacy for the Ukrainian cause was evident when he visited Ukraine and even presented one of his Oscar statuettes to Zelenskyy as a “symbolic” loan until the conflict concluded. The move symbolizes Penn’s commitment and solidarity with the Ukrainian people during their turbulent times.

Will Smith’s Infamous Oscars Moment

Tying into his comments about the Oscars, Penn drew a sharp contrast between the refusal to allow Zelenskyy to speak and the tumultuous scene involving Will Smith at the same ceremony.

Smith, who slapped Chris Rock on stage over a comment about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, was a moment that shocked many, with Penn saying: “This f—ing bulls— wouldn’t have happened with Zelenskyy. Will Smith would never have left that chair to be part of stupid violence. It never would have happened.”

Key Points:

  • Smith slapped Rock after a joke referencing his wife’s alopecia condition.
  • Smith later won Best Actor for “King Richard,” a biopic on Venus and Serena Williams.
  • The incident with Rock marked a significant sour note in an otherwise celebratory evening.

Sean Penn’s Personal Connection

Penn’s pointed comments towards Smith’s action also brought up a personal chapter from Penn’s past. He referenced an incident from 1987 when he served jail time for assaulting a film extra during a movie shoot. Drawing a parallel between his own situation and Smith’s actions at the Oscars, Penn remarked:

“Why did I go to f—ing jail for what you just did? And you’re still sitting there? Why are you guys standing and applauding his worst moment as a person?”


  • In 1987, Penn was sentenced to 60 days in county jail for punching an extra during the filming of “Colors.”
  • The actor has had a history of confrontations, including altercations with journalists and a photographer.

Championing Global Causes

Over the years, Sean Penn has increasingly become synonymous not only with acting prowess but also with his proactive stance on global issues. His compassion for Ukraine is just one facet of his humanitarian endeavors. Penn’s active involvement in global crises, from natural disasters to political upheavals, showcases his dedication to fostering positive change and using his platform for the greater good.

The Actor’s Humanitarian Footprint

Apart from his support for Ukraine, Penn’s humanitarian efforts have been felt in various parts of the world. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the actor founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which has since been instrumental in providing relief and rehabilitation to countless affected residents. His commitment to the cause saw him spend considerable time on the ground, directly assisting with relief operations.

Similarly, when the global pandemic hit, Penn’s organization, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), played a pivotal role in providing free COVID-19 testing in the United States, especially in underserved communities. Such endeavors underscore his dedication to addressing immediate crises and working towards long-term solutions.

Superpower: A Closer Look at Zelenskyy

Penn’s latest project, “Superpower,” co-directed with Aaron Kaufman, dives deep into Zelenskyy’s unexpected rise to political prominence from his prior career as a TV comedian. The documentary, soon to be released on Paramount+, initially aimed to spotlight Zelenskyy’s transition from entertainment to politics. However, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has now become a testament to the leader’s resilience and the nation’s fight for sovereignty.

Penn, deeply invested in the situation, has urged greater military support from the West for Ukraine, emphasizing the need for immediate action and solidarity.

In conclusion, the actor’s outspoken criticism of the Academy and his fervent support for Ukraine are emblematic of his personal commitment to justice, both on and off the silver screen, shedding light on his deep-seated values and the causes close to his heart.

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