Actor Sean Penn says he will destroy his Academy Award if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn’t allowed to speak during the Oscars broadcast.
In an interview with CNN, Penn, 61, said having Zelenskyy speak during Sunday’s broadcast was of the utmost importance.
“There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give him that opportunity to talk to all of us,” Penn said.
He said that if Zelenskyy isn’t given the floor for an address during the broadcast, he will destroy his own Oscar.
“When I return, I will smelt mine in public,” he said. “I pray that’s not what happens.”
Penn, who spoke from Warsaw, Poland, was recently in Ukraine making a documentary about its conflict with Russia. He is making the documentary with Vice Studios in association with ViceWorld News and Endeavor Content, a spokesperson for Vice confirmed in February.
Penn reminded viewers in the interview that Zelenskyy is also a fellow thespian with a long career in the arts.
“And, by the way, this a man who understands movies and had his own very long and successful career in that,” Penn said.
Netflix announced this month that the popular political satire TV series “Servant of the People,” which starred Zelenskyy, would return to the streaming platform.
“You asked and it’s back!” the company tweeted. “Servant of the People is once again available on Netflix in the US. The 2015 satirical comedy series stars Volodymyr Zelenskyy playing a teacher who unexpectedly becomes President after a video of him complaining about corruption suddenly goes viral.”
Penn said that although he was under the impression that Zelenskyy hadn’t been permitted to speak at the show, he hoped he was wrong.
He said that if Zelenskyy wasn’t permitted to speak, it would be a moment that echoed through the history of the industry forever.
“Now, it is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it … if the academy has elected not to do it, if the presenters have elected not to pursue the leadership in Ukraine who are taking bullets and bombs for us along with the Ukrainian children that they are trying to protect, then I think every single one of those people and every bit of that decision will be the most obscene moment in Hollywood history,” Penn said.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.