Thandiwe Newton shuts down ‘jibbering FOOL’ Sean Penn’s remarks about ‘feminized’ men

Separate photos of Thandiwe Newton and Sean Penn arriving at events
Thandiwe Newton had some thoughts about Sean Penn’s recent comments on masculinity.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press, left; Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press, right)

Thandiwe Newton just treated Sean Penn the same way her “Westworld” character treats most humans: Without mercy.

Newton called the “Mystic River” Oscar winner a “jibbering FOOL” over comments he made recently about men’s masculinity — or lack thereof — in a recent interview with the Independent. Then on Tuesday she signed off social media “for a while” for completely unrelated reasons.

The seed was planted earlier this month when the U.K.’s iNews talked to Penn about masculinity, which apparently he has been thinking about a lot lately.


“I am in the club that believes that men in American culture have become wildly feminized,” said the “Licorice Pizza” actor, 61. “I don’t think that being a brute or having insensitivity or disrespect for women is anything to do with masculinity, or ever did. But I don’t think that [in order] to be fair to women, we should become them.”

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When he talked to the Independent a couple of weeks later, he doubled down and gave his opinion a wardrobe.

“I think that men have, in my view, become quite feminized,” he said in the new article, which was published over the weekend. “I have these very strong women in my life who do not take masculinity as a sign of oppression toward them. There are a lot of, I think, cowardly genes that lead to people surrendering their jeans and putting on a skirt.”

After Variety published its take on the matter and promoted it on social media, Newton, 49, entered the fray.

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“Dude what are you SAY-ING?? Like for REAL? You’re a jibbering FOOL,” she tweeted Sunday, quoting the Variety promo. “MF you used to be sexy but now you’re just tragic.”

Newton continued in a second tweet, which noted that Penn had done his Independent interview with daughter Dylan Penn, an actor and model whose mother is Robin Wright. Sean, Dylan and Dylan’s brother Hopper Penn all appear in the new movie “Flag Day,” which Sean Penn directed.

“In front of your DAUGHTER!? That poor little mite,” Newton wrote. “Thank God her Mum’s so dope. Please stop ruining the brilliance of #LicoricePizza with this nonsense.”

But Tuesday found the “God’s Country” actor taking a break from Twitter after apologizing to the BFI London Film Festival for speculative comments she made as to why the festival didn’t accept the lauded documentary “President” in 2021.

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The movie looks at the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe, where activist lawyer Nelson Chamisa unsuccessfully challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa, the country’s former vice president, had ousted decades-long dictator Robert Mugabe in a 2017 military coup. It opened Saturday in the U.S.

Born in London, Newton is of Zimbabwean heritage on her mother’s side and lived in the African nation for a while when she was young.

“Every time [‘President’] gets into another festival and wins another festival and then gets shortlisted for the Oscars, I’m just thinking London Film Festival, ‘Where were you?’” Newton told Variety on Sunday.

“And the reason they weren’t there was because it was the week before Mnangagwa went to Scotland with 100 delegates from Zimbabwe, invited by the United Kingdom. That wouldn’t have been a great way to have him arrive the week before, right? That’s why I think it wasn’t screened.”

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But BFI explained to the trade outlet that the organization made its decision three months in advance of the October 2021 festival, based on “the merits of the film and whether it fits into the overall texture of the program.” External factors (including politics) did not influence its choice, BFI said.

Newton apologized to the festival Sunday, tweeting, “I apologise for my comments @Variety challenging your integrity in not accepting #President #LFF2021. As a British Zimbabwean I’m devastated by the human rights abuses being suffered in our ex colony. My upset was personal, and I was wrong to accuse.”

The “Line of Duty” actor announced Tuesday that she was taking a hiatus from social media.

“My last tweet for a while,” she wrote. “I apologise to any Zimbabweans who feel my actions are political. They are about HUMAN RIGHTS across the world, of which I have a 20 year career. Zimbabwe is my Mother’s birth place, and to see her weep for her country, hurts my heart too. MERCY.”