One of the biggest questions looming over tonight’s Academy Awards is how the show will address Ukraine. In the midst of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of the nation, much of Hollywood has tried to show solidarity with Ukraine. Awards season has been full of stars wearing blue and yellow, and many winners have devoted part of their acceptance speech to talking about the war.
While there will almost certainly be some kind of tribute, rumors began to swirl over the weekend that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was attempting to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to remotely speak at the ceremony. Opinions have differed about whether that is a good idea, with some saying that the Oscars could give the leader a massive platform, while others see it as a self indulgent act that would not do much to help the war torn country — and Zelensky is certainly busy with other things, to say the least.
One of Ukraine’s biggest Hollywood supporters is Sean Penn, who met with Zelensky in the early days of the invasion and has been on the ground in Ukraine filming a documentary about the war. Speaking to CNN, Penn called on the Academy to make an effort to include Zelensky in the ceremony. While he was careful to note that he is confident that will happen, the actor said that if it doesn’t, he will destroy his two Oscar trophies in protest.
“If it turns out to be what is happening, I would encourage everyone involved, though it may be their moment, and I understand that, to celebrate their films, it is so much more importantly their moment to shine, and to protest and to boycott that Academy Awards. I myself, if it comes back to it, when I return, I will smelt mine in public,” Penn said. “I pray that’s not what happened. I pray there have not been arrogant people who consider themselves representatives of the greater good who have decided not to check in with leadership in Ukraine. So I’m going to hope that’s not what happened, and I hope everyone walks out if it is.”
The two Oscars that Penn would hypothetically be smelting are from his wins for Best Leading Actor in 2004 for “Mystic River” and in 2009 for “Milk.”
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