Sean Penn has always tended to be a fairly polarizing figure, but it can’t be denied that he’s one of the best actors of his generation. The 60 year-old’s trophy cabinet is bursting with two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild and widespread acclaim for a number of performances dating back decades, so it’s a big deal that he’s making a rare foray into episodic television by starring in Starz Watergate drama Gaslit, which sees him heading the cast opposite Julia Roberts.
Penn’s political and social activism has generated just as many headlines as his onscreen work, and there’s been more than a few controversies along the way, but he’s now putting his foot down and refusing to return to work on Gaslit until the crew has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, dishing out the ultimatum that he’ll be sitting at home until his demands have been met.
While it might sound like slightly diva-ish behavior on the surface, even if we are talking about a deadly pandemic that’s still a very real danger, Penn has offered to make it happen through his nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort organization completely free of charge, so it’s hardly something that could throw Gaslit into total chaos.
Production began at the end of April, so it’s unclear what suddenly forced him to play hardball with the cast and crew, but it should be noted that cases are starting to rise all over the world as the last form of restrictions are lifted in many places. Gaslit stars Sean Penn as General John Mitchell, President Nixon’s close advisor and even closer friend, with Roberts playing his wife Martha, one of the first to publicly link Nixon to the Watergate scandal, but there’s no word on when shooting will pick up again.