Actor Sean Penn has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Lee Daniels for a recent interview in which the creator of the hit show Empire suggested that Penn is physically abusive toward women.
Penn filed suit in New York Supreme Court on Tuesday, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“As a result of Penn’s status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks,” the first paragraph of the complaint reads. “But Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.”
In a feature story on Empire for this month’s issue of THR, Daniels seemingly compared the show’s principal cast member, Terrence Howard, to Penn by suggesting both were physically abusive toward women.
“[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f***in’ demon,” Daniels told the magazine. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”
Howard has been accused of assaulting women several times; according to Defamer, the actor has been accused of physically hitting a woman at least six times.
In the complaint – which also refers to Penn as “one of this generation’s most highly-acclaimed and greatest artists and humanitarians” – Penn accuses Daniels of defending Howard as “apparently part of a misguided campaign to profit and further bolster and brand his show Empire (on the eve of the Emmy Awards, when the statements were made.)”
“Third, and most problematic,” the complaint continues, “Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”
Of course, while Penn may never have been arrested or convicted of domestic abuse, the actor is alleged to have tied up Madonna and physically abused her during an incident in 1988. According to a police report filed by Madonna with the Malibu Sheriff’s Office at the time and recounted in a 2001 biography of the singer, Penn allegedly tied his ex-wife to a chair in her Malibu home and proceeded to physically and emotionally abuse her over several hours. According to biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, Madonna allegedly dropped the charges against Penn because she did not want the negative publicity.
A representative for Daniels did not immediately return Breitbart News’ request for comment.