Actor Sean Penn said over the weekend he is “thinking about taking up arms against Russia” as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine.
Penn, 61, has been filming a documentary in the region since last year, and after spending some time in Ukraine, the actor told Hollywood Authentic magazine in an interview published Saturday that he thought seriously about fighting in the conflict.
“If you’ve been in Ukraine [fighting] has to cross your mind,” Penn said in the interview. “And you kind of think what century is this? Because I was at the gas station in Brentwood the other day and I’m now thinking about taking up arms against Russia? What the f— is going on?”
“The only possible reason for me staying in Ukraine longer last time would’ve been for me to be holding a rifle, probably without body armor, because as a foreigner, you would want to give that body armor to one of the civilian fighters who doesn’t have it or to a fighter with more skills than I have, or to a younger man or woman who could fight for longer or whatever,” he added.
The Ukrainian embassy praised Penn’s “courage” after the actor filmed portions of the documentary in Kyiv.
“The director specially came to Kyiv to record all the events that are currently happening in Ukraine and to tell the world the truth about Russia’s invasion of our country. Sean Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine today. Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty,” the embassy, according to a translation of the statement by Newsweek.
“Sean Penn demonstrates the courage that many others, especially Western politicians lack. The more such people in our country now, true friends of Ukraine, who support the struggle for freedom, the sooner it will be possible to stop Russia’s treacherous attack,” it continued.
Penn also told the magazine that he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “the day before the invasion” and was with him “during the invasion, on day one.”
“It struck me that I was now looking at a guy who knew that he had to rise to the ultimate level of human courage and leadership,” the actor said. “I think he found out that he was born to do that.”
Last month, Penn vowed to smelt his Oscar trophies if the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences failed to give Zelenskyy a chance to appear at the Oscars. Zelenskyy ultimately did not appear at the event, and it’s not yet clear if Penn will follow through on his vow.