Sean Penn described the Will Smith Oscars slap as “karma” for the Academy who chose not to allow the Ukrainian president to address the 2022 ceremony following Russia’s invasion.
Hollywood star Penn, who has won two Oscar awards for best actor, said it was “discouraging” and a “low moment” for the leadership of the Academy when it did not invite former actor Volodymyr Zelensky to present a message to the audience.
“He had no intention of being partisan politics in the United States,” Penn said during an interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored.
TONIGHT: A brilliant interview with Hollywood superstar Sean Penn. Tune into @PiersUncensored at 8pm to hear a fierce actor with a fierce mind, getting fierce re Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and more. pic.twitter.com/BImoeT0141
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 22, 2023
“It was really to talk about the value of cinema and to thank all of those around the world that were supporting and the Academy. That’s what he would have shared.
“And they traded that for, I guess, the karma of what happened with Will Smith.”
King Richard star Smith, who later won the Oscar for best actor, stormed the stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock after he made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss.
Penn said he was in Lviv, Ukraine, with his organisation Community Organised Relief Effort (Core) during the infamous Academy Awards ceremony.
“I wasn’t watching it, but I heard about it the morning after and saw the clip,” he said.
“I literally felt something like ‘safer in Ukraine than Hollywood’, watching it, mentally. It just seemed so small.”
Last year Penn gave one of his Academy Awards to Mr Zelensky as a “symbol of faith” in the country’s victory in the ongoing conflict with Russia – and it will stay in Ukraine until the end of the war.
The Milk actor also made a documentary about the war in Ukraine titled Superpower, which had its world premiere at the Berlin film festival earlier this year.