Entertainment behind the scenes
Sean Penn talking about “My President”
One of the most vocal opponents in Hollywood to President George W. Bush, the war in Iraq and the botched rescue of Hurricane Katrina victims declared peace with American politics this week with the election of Barack Obama as the next president.
“I was sitting on the edge of the bed with my family watching our new president-elect,” actor/director Sean Penn said Thursday night as he collected the Britannia Award for Excellence in Film from the Los Angeles chapter of BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
“I have never been able to put the word ‘my’ before president before,” he added, prompting loud applause from the British-American film industry crowd that also honored actors Tilda Swinton and Don Cheadle and director Stephen Frears.
When not working on films — either acting or directing, which he did last year with “Into the Wild” – the Oscar winner has hopped on planes and ruffled feathers by touring Iraq and meeting with Washington foe Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.
Penn will be making new waves with “Milk,” in which he plays Harvey Milk, the late San Francisco gay activist and politician of the 1970s. The Gus Van Sant film opens later this month on the heels of a stinging defeat for California gays, who saw their right to marry overturned at the polls this week.
While he may have made peace with American politics, Penn did use the stage to take a parting shot at another foe — ex-wife Madonna, playing Thursday across town at Dodger Stadium.
After searching for “my British thing to say,” Penn shouted “Guy Ritchie’s back!”
British filmmaker Ritchie and Madonna are divorcing after nearly eight years of marriage.
-Photo credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser (Sean Penn arrives at BAFTA Awards)