Sean Penn Calls on Academy Award Committee to Invite Ukraine’s President, a Former Actor, to Speak from Oscars Ceremony

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Two time Academy award winner Sean Penn has urged the Academy Award Committee to include Ukraine’s President, former actor, Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oscars Ceremony. 

Speaking on CNN, Penn, who has been in Ukraine and Poland making a documentary about the plight of refugees, vowed to publicly melt down his Oscar statuettes if the awards body declined to offer the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy a platform at Sunday night’s event (Monday local time).

“There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give [Zelenskiy] an opportunity to talk to all of us,” Penn said. “It is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it. That is not me commenting on whether or not President Zelenskiy had wanted to.”

Earlier this week Amy Schumer, one of the three hosts for this year’s ceremony, said she had pitched “a way to have Zelenskiy satellite in or make a tape” but implied that her input had been unwelcome.

“I am not afraid to go there,” she said. “But it’s not me producing the Oscars.” Other sources reported that Zelenskiy had declined an invitation to contribute via Zoom.

Penn urged a widespread boycott of the event should it be confirmed that no approach to Zelenskyy had been made.

“If it comes back to it, I will smelt mine in public,” Penn said. “I pray that’s not what’s happened. I pray there have not been arrogant people, who consider themselves representatives of the greater good in my industry, that have [decided against checking] with leadership in Ukraine. So I’m just going to hope that that’s not what’s happened. I hope [every attender] walks out if it is.”

Penn added he hoped other celebrities in attendance would boycott the ceremony if Zelensky doesn’t appear during the show.

Penn, who has won the best actor Oscar twice – for Mystic River in 2003 and Milk in 2008 – is not personally nominated this year, but does appear in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, which is seen as a leading contender for best original screenplay.

The 94th Academy Awards return to the Dolby theatre in Hollywood amid continued uncertainty over the attendance of nominees recently diagnosed with Covid. On Saturday night Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has two films in competition – Encanto and Tick, Tick … Boom! – said he would no longer be able to attend after his wife tested positive.

On Friday the Academy further tightened its rules on entry requirements, announcing that anyone within a five-day window of a positive test would be barred, even if they were now testing negative. The health status of the Belfast nominees Kenneth Branagh and Ciaran Hinds, who tested positive shortly after the Baftas a fortnight ago, is not known.