Actor-director Sean Penn, who has spent years hobnobbing with dictators from Venezuela to Russia, said COVID-19 vaccinations should be compulsory, adding that he is “frustrated” by people who continue to resist the vaccine.
“This is one of those things that should be mandatory,” Penn told Yahoo Entertainment during an interview about his latest movie, Flag Day, which he directed and stars in. The two-time Oscar-winning actor compared vaccine mandates to driver’s licenses, saying they are “no different than having everybody being able to drive 100 miles an hour in a car.”
Penn said he is “frustrated” with the resistance he has seen among unvaccinated Americans who are able to receive the vaccine but have been hesitant to schedule their first dose, though he said there should allowances for people who can’t take the vaccine due to underlying health conditions.
“There’s different kinds of hesitancies, and so I don’t think that there’s much excuse to not know the information available anymore,” he told the outlet.
“That’s part of why I think it should be mandatory,” he added. “A resistance that’s just based on a certain kind of… lack of imagination and understanding of anything that’s helpful to the human race, I’ve become very frustrated by that. But I can only work within my own bounds and say that, for me, it should be mandatory.”
Vladimir Putin, Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn with Bob Van Ronkel at a surprise party organised by the president of the Moscow International Film Festival festival, Nikita Mikhalhov, at his country home. Penn and Nicholson were in Russia for a screening of The Pledge in 2001. pic.twitter.com/bszT5ZdU1G
— Kath (@mopeng) March 4, 2019
Penn didn’t mention specifically that the people who continue to be the most hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an August 4 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, are Black and Hispanic people. In New York City, for instance, just 31 percent of Blacks have been vaccinated. Bloomberg News recently reported that some heavily non-white areas of New York City “have lower vaccination rates than Mississippi.”
Nor did Penn detail the coronavirus-fueled devastation countries like Cuba are facing, as the communist regime in that country — which he as visited multiple times, to meet with its dictator Fedel Castro — fails to fix.
Penn said the private sector should be more aggressive in mandating the vaccine. “I think that the movie business [and] all business need to take the lead and to be not so timid.”
Penn recently refused to return to the set of his Starz miniseries Gaslit until all cast and crew have been fully vaccinated. The star offered to help the on-set vaccination effort for free through his charity.
At the recent Cannes Film Festival where Flag Day was shown in competition, Penn used the virus to make a political statement, declaring that the Trump administration’s coronavirus policies were no better than “gunning down” vulnerable communities “from a turret at the White House.”