Sean Hannity demands to know why Sean Penn doesn’t trust him ‘for a lot of reasons’
Actor and producer Sean Penn opened up Tuesday about his experience documenting the war in Ukraine in a sprawling interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
During the latest episode of the conservative pundit’s eponymous talk program, Hannity and Penn repeatedly acknowledged their diametrically opposing political beliefs while agreeing that Russian President Vladimir Putin was wrong to invade Ukraine.
In recent months, Penn has been on the ground in Ukraine while filming a documentary about the besieged nation and its leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I made a phone call to you. I read that you were there, and the story interested me,” Hannity said after welcoming the Oscar winner to his show. “If you were on this set 99 out of 100 times, we probably would be in full disagreement, right?”
“No question about that,” Penn said.
At first, the veteran performer was skeptical of the invitation from Hannity, whom he doesn’t trust for “a lot of reasons.” But after what he “experienced emotionally in Ukraine,” Penn decided to put their differences aside.
“There are so many people that don’t trust their spouse, and yet we have got to get on with life,” Penn said.
“We all talk about how ... divided things are here. But when you step into a country of such incredible unity, you realize what we have all been missing. ... It becomes a petty thing, as people and babies are being vaporized, and that these people are fighting for the very dreams that are the aspiration of all of us Americans.”
Hannity, however, was fixated on Penn’s trust issues. Though much of the interview was serious in tone due to the grim subject matter, the two shared a few smiles and laughs while joking about their unlikely pairing.
When the movie star brought up his first conversation with Zelensky, for example, the Fox News commentator interrupted to ask, “Did you trust him? More than me.”
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“I didn’t have the baggage with him I have with you,” Penn quipped with a chuckle — to which Hannity defensively replied, “What is the baggage? We never have met before.”
“As a badge of honor in my house, I have got the full-screen that I dominate as an enemy of the state with you in foreground,” Penn joked.
Toward the end of the interview, Hannity seemed intent on finally winning Penn’s approval, asking him, “Do you trust me now more than you did?” And then again: “Do you trust me? Did I keep my word?”
Eventually, Penn conceded that Hannity did, indeed, keep his word. But that wasn’t enough for the TV host.
“So, why don’t you trust me?” he pressed, laughing.
“You know what happens,” Penn said. “There’s a lot of physical therapy necessary after a big car accident.”
On Twitter, Penn called Ukraine “the tip of the spear for the democratic embrace of dreams. If we allow it to fight alone, our soul as America is lost.”
When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, Penn’s presence in the country made headlines. But the“Licorice Pizza” actor had already been there since November, working on a project about Ukrainian culture and Zelensky.
Though Penn had consulted experts on Putin who predicted the Russian invasion, “a part of” him was in denial that the situation would escalate to war.
“I thought, ‘Really? Is there an upside to this for [Putin]?’ ” he recalled.
“But ... he was so deep in that the humiliation wasn’t going to let it stop, and that you weren’t going to have the simplicity of negotiations for regions of the east of Mariupol to be able to make the bridge from Crimea. And now it was going to be this full-on assault. And here we are.”
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The actor also reflected on meeting Zelensky “face to face for the first time” the day before the invasion, which is included in his forthcoming documentary. At the time, there was a blackout in the city due to missile threats, and Penn’s team was advised not to leave in a car lest the lights attract a strike.
“I don’t know that there’s a person on Earth who could know that they were born for such a day, that they could rise to it,” Penn said.
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“He’s the face of something that you see in all the Ukrainians we saw and talked to — whether they were in uniform, out of uniform, schoolteachers, even children — this extraordinary courage that’s come up. ... It was in his eyes.”
Brief side quibbles about Presidents Reagan, Trump and Biden aside, Hannity and Penn agreed that Ukraine has a decent shot at surviving Russia’s attack — if provided with the military aid necessary to do so.
“It is clear to me that the Ukrainians will win this,” Penn said. “The question is, at what cost?”
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