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Sean Penn Complains That Most Actors Do "Monkey-Fuck-Rat Movies," But Says Jessica Chastain Is A "Stradivarius"

by Kevin Jagernauth
December 13, 2012 1:24 PM
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Sean Penn

If there has been one recurring theme in 2012 among movie folks, it's that cinema is dead. As we've noted, it's an alarm that has gone up more than once over the years, but there seems to at least be a sentiment that American cinema is in crisis (a feeling director James Gray recently shared with us). Someone who would agree with that is the always enjoyably cantankerous Sean Penn, and while doing the rounds for "Gangster Squad," he takes his fellow colleagues and movie studios to task for not stepping up their game.

"I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing. 'Gangster Squad.' But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low. Very low. And mostly they're just doing a bunch of monkey-fuck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business," Penn candidly told Esquire. "I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody's got a modeling contract, everybody's selling jewelry and perfume. I'm blinded by it. Bob Dylan said in an interview one time — somebody asked him, 'Are you really this reclusive?' He says, 'No, I'm not reclusive, man. I'm exclusive.' Exclusivity is like intimacy."

Certainly, Penn has used his fame and fortune to help leverage his various philanthropic endeavors, but overall, he's seen the business change dramatically since he entered showbiz. "In my teens, I fell in love with the movies. And so when I got involved in the movies, I was a genius in terms of how the movies that were made in the generation that inspired me got made — but now the financing wasn't there to do 'em anymore. Trauma. I'm caught in a business that I'm in love with the idea of — the whole process that's possible," he said. "Only now they're not making movies — they're representing them."

But if you think he's given up on the next crop of actors and actresses making their way onto the big screen, guess again, and one talent in particular has caught his (and everyone else's) eye. "I don't know the young actors as well, I'm not as aware of who's out there, but when I think of the crew around my age: Daniel [Day-Lewis], Philip [Seymour Hoffman], Javier [Bardem], Josh [Brolin], Jessica Chastain — who is fucking Stradivarius — what a group! There's a group that could be in all the classic pictures right now," Penn enthused. "Like the classics of the seventies or the classics of the forties. I think of that group of actors and it's like, 'Gimme a camera, I got an idea!' "

Will one of those ideas be "The Comedian," the film he's supposed to direct with Robert De Niro and Kristen Wiig? Let's hope. And if you think Penn is unable to have a laugh, let us remind you of his appearance on "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis.

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Sean Penn from Between Two Ferns
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  • Ronnie Ford | December 16, 2012 5:52 PMReply

    I agree... Jessica Chastain is fantastic, focused, knowledgeable, wholesome, and will be one of the enduring stars that has come along in last 75 years. I saw her in the movie, Debt, and saw her interviewed on Charlie Rose. She is unforgettable, a magnetic personality.

  • gerard kennelly | December 16, 2012 9:31 PM

    i love her performance in JOLENE

  • Tired of Previews | December 15, 2012 7:03 PMReply

    Many of the films out at the theatres are not the greatest films but just take a look at Netflix, iTunes, and Roku channels. Plus indie films at local theatres are out there (not for long true), but you will discover there are more great movies being made that most just aren't seeing. Also, look overseas, people! America is not the only place movies are made.

    I am so grateful that I am a movie reviewer now because many indie filmmakers track me down to show me their films that I know no big distributing company will never take on. I am happy to let people know about them. There are gems out there - and not hard to find.

    And Sean - I think you are great but you might want to try a comedy or two next. You need to smile once in awhile. Life's too short. :-)

  • Oh sean | December 14, 2012 3:36 PMReply

    He just always says shit the moaning old fart. Just lighten up Seany!

  • jt | December 14, 2012 7:03 AMReply

    Sean previously worked with Samantha Morton. Samantha is a much better actress than Jessica Chastain.

  • gerard kennelly | December 16, 2012 9:33 PM

    samantha morton is under rated

    i saw her in EXPIRED

    it is a real dark drama

  • spassky | December 14, 2012 12:04 PM

    don't know about that (still need more time with Chastain), but Morton is a fucking freighter of talent.

  • 1974 | December 14, 2012 11:16 AM

    You wish...

  • jingmei | December 14, 2012 2:44 AMReply

    Good said Sean Penn. I think Jessica Chastain is a smart actress indeed.

  • cranly | December 13, 2012 8:41 PMReply

    He means Daniel Day-Lewis. He's an avowed fan.

  • spassky | December 14, 2012 12:05 PM

    Yeah, WTF, I was wondering why he singled out Daniel Craig...

  • zinjo | December 13, 2012 7:36 PMReply

    Hey has a point, but if actors, directors and producers asked for less pay and put more of the budgets on screen, we'd see higher quality films, both in story and visuals, but alas, everyone wants to criticize until it is their paycheck that is cut...

  • Huffy | December 13, 2012 11:36 PM

    That happens all the time, it's called indie cinema. Big-name actors either work for peanuts or wave their fees entirely to make movies they feel are worth making. If your talking about taking paycuts for studio pictures then fuck that. As Russell Crowe once said "I don't do charity work for studios"

  • Adam Scott Thompson | December 13, 2012 6:56 PMReply

    Dude went HAM. And yeah... Chastain is as advertised.

  • Lou | December 13, 2012 3:18 PMReply

    Is he admitting that 'Gangster Squad' is actually not an artistic endeavour?

  • Michael Medeiros | December 13, 2012 3:18 PMReply

    Cinema is dead, yeah yeah. The same pronouncement has been made so many times about the theatre. And it's partly true, but...there are theatres that are doing prodigious work, mostly the ones run by people of some vision (the Goodman in Chicago - in fact a lot of Chicago theatres). But it's always the same, there's the vision and there's the money. If the money talks too loud you just end up with bleeding ears. Vision = taking a risk. Tiger Lily Road. Find us.

  • JD | December 13, 2012 2:18 PMReply

    I could be wrong, but I think he's talking about Daniel Day-Lewis, not Daniel Craig.

  • Gabe NotToro | December 13, 2012 5:24 PM

    I was going to say....singling out a guy whose last five years have been nothing but Bond, DRAGON TAT, and COWBOYS AND ALIENS as a paragon of seeking quality material?

  • Chancho | December 13, 2012 3:03 PM

    I would bet JD is correct.

  • Will h | December 13, 2012 1:36 PMReply

    '... but when I think of the crew around my age...'

    'Sean, it's Jessica. Can we talk?'

  • James | December 13, 2012 3:14 PM

    C'mon, he's using Hollywood casting math, which means any actress up to 20 years younger than you is still age-appropriate for a peer group:)

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