Actor Sean Penn took exception to the idea that the strong female characters on his new show were inspired by the #MeToo movement during an interview with Today’s Natalie Morales on Monday.
Penn is starring alongside Natascha McElhone in a new Hulu series called “The First,” which is about a mission to Mars in the year 2030 and includes several female astronauts and a female president.
McElhone said it was informed by the #MeToo movement, but Penn disagreed.
“I’d like to think that none of it was influenced by what they call the movement of #MeToo,” Penn said. “I think it’s influenced by the things that are developing in terms of the empowerment of women who’ve been acknowledging each other and being acknowledged by men.”
A movement of division?
Penn went on to criticize the #MeToo movement as a whole, questioning whether it was actually a movement at all and pointing to it as a source of division in society.
“This is a movement that was largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious,” Penn said during the interview. “…we don’t know what’s a fact in many of the cases. Salacious is as soon as you call something a movement that is really a series of many individual accusers, victims, accusations, some of which are unfounded. The spirit of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women.”
Penn referenced personal conversations he’s had with women he knows who, when talking about the issue behind closed doors, exhibit common sense and nuance that the media doesn’t portray.
“I’m gonna say that women I talk to, not in front of a camera, that I listen to, of all walks of life, that there’s a common sense that is not represented at all in the discussion when it comes to the media discussion of it, the discussion where if Sean Penn says this, so and so’s going to attack him for saying this, because of that.”
Penn remains skeptical of the movement.
“I don’t want it to be a trend, and I’m very suspicious of a movement that gets glommed on to in great stridency and rage and without nuance,” Penn told Morales. “And even when people try to discuss it in a nuanced way, the nuance itself is attacked.”
Penn’s co-star disagrees
Despite Penn’s strong feelings, co-star McElhone doesn’t share his opinion of #MeToo and its influence on “The First.”
“We talked about it a great deal (on the set of “The First”),” McElhone said. “I think what Sean was maybe alluding to is this sort of bubble actors or people who are in magazines that have gotten a lot of attention from this.”
(H/T Hot Air)