Interviews

Interview with actor and activist Sean Penn

The Hollywood actor speaks out about US foreign policy, issues of privacy and the role of the media.

Sean Penn is often the man in the spotlight, firing up the crowds and demanding change.

His performances on screen have made him one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, earning him two Academy Awards.

I am an American, and to engage in the culture of complaint about our own credibility failures is to have to acknowledge the part that we as citizens play, and [that we] have failed our own government. Not only the failure of the government towards us and to the world.

But aside from his career success, some have not appreciated his support for Venezuela’s former president Hugo Chavez, or his stance on the US’ war in Iraq when he accused the Bush administration of criminal acts.

“You, Mr’s Bush and Cheney, you Ms Rice, are villainously and criminally obscene people,” he said at the time.

Penn is not afraid of controversy, and of questioning those in power. He knows his position in popular culture can benefit the causes he believes in, leading to his humanitarian and activist work in countries including Haiti and Pakistan.

“I am an American, and to engage in the culture of complaint about our own credibility failures is to have to acknowledge the part that we as citizens play, and [that we] have failed our own government. Not only the failure of the government towards us and to the world,” Penn tells Al Jazeera.

“There are great successes through the US government. We saw an incredible response in Haiti, from the White House to the State Department to the Pentagon, and the people. And we have seen deviant interventions historically as well,” he says.

“I think that we don’t start to correct any of those things beginning with government. We have to get increasingly engaged in the policies.

“And I think one of the big things where we have to recognise we are complicit, is that we have been far too comfort-addicted, which has led us to be reluctant to boycott corporate interests which are lobbying these policies in government.”

This week on Talk to Al Jazeera, Oscar-winning actor – and activist – Sean Penn discusses his current passions and the things that move him to act, as well as issues of privacy and US foreign policy.

[He pinpoints that fact that only about 20% of U.S. citizens hold passports, ed.]

[Source]

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