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Sean Penn Talks His Debut Novel and His Fears for #MeToo

Sean Penn Talks His Debut Novel and His Fears for #MeToo
From TIME - March 22, 2018

On March 27, Sean Penn will make his debut as an author with his satirical novel, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. To mark the occasion, the philanthropist and two-time Academy Awardwinning actor famous for his roles ranging from Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Milk to Mystic River spoke with TIME about the themes of the book, the #MeToo movement, President Donald Trump and Haiti.

The main character of your book is a mercenary who opposes a Trumpian figure. Do you share Bob Honeys worldview? I wrote this book to get myself away from my own worldviews. And that doesnt mean that they are or are not expressed in the book. Its up to the reader to decide.

Bob drafts a letter to the Trumpian character saying, We are a nation in need of an assassin. Are you worried that will be read as you advocating for the assassination of President Trump? No, Im not worried about that. I think if anybody believes by reading this that I am advocating for something like that, then they are really not getting that right. This is satire.

Bob targets the elderly. Do you fear getting old? No, I am in a hurry to get old. Ive always had it in my head that Im 77 years old. Now I dont know that Ill make it to that. Ive done a little too much smoking. But I do feel more at ease with the world the older I get, despite the fact that the world itself is becoming increasingly challenging.

When you picture your life as a 77-year-old, what do you see? I think I run a bed and breakfast, and I keep a good bottle of Haitian rum under a blanket over my legs, in a wheelchair. I am not committed to the wheelchair, but I use it because I could get away with it. And Im very selective about who can stay at the bed and breakfast.

What can books do that movies cant? Put the vision in the hands of the reader. Film has often been called the directors medium. And a writer kind of gets lost in that, often. With a book, youve got a writer and a directorand the director is the reader.

What did you think when the President described Haiti as a sh-thole? I just know so many people who would have been hurt by it, who have lived a hardship that that mans never known. The indignity of his indulgence in his own flamboyance and minor brain is cheapening the air we breathe. And the fact that this Congress is tolerating him, the fact that anchors on news stations arent pulling the fire alarm. We passed the Paddy Chayefsky moment about a year ago, when the screaming Im mad as hell, and Im not going to take it anymore should have been. I used the book to keep myself from [falling into] the worst thoughts that Bob expresses. When it comes to Sean Penn talking for Sean Penn these days, I even feel that I want to use less flamboyant language than I have, and Im not a politician.

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