Sean Penn has never been one to mince words — and he doesn’t in a recent, wide-ranging interview with Esquire. When he gets around to talking about the current state of the movie biz, it seems he’s not too happy. The complete interview appears in the January issue of Esquire. Here are some excerpts:
I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing. Gangster Squad. But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low. Very low. And mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-fuck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody’s got a modeling contract, everybody’s selling jewelry and perfume. I’m blinded by it. Bob Dylan said in an interview one time — somebody asked him, Are you really this reclusive? He says, No, I’m not reclusive, man. I’m exclusive. Exclusivity is like intimacy.
When I was growing up and somebody like Robert De Niro had a movie come out, it was a cultural event. Because he had such a confidence and a single mission that was so intimate. But when people start using themselves as instruments of a kind of consumerist mosh pit, they’re helping that take over. I mean, you are a soldier for it or you’re a soldier against it. That’s all there is to it. And we have so little of that intimacy left, it’s no wonder that interpersonal relationships have become text relationships. It’s a texting orgy. When is somebody gonna sit there, with their mate or their child, and just look them in the eye and say, “I love you?” When is that life?
I don’t know the young actors as well, I’m not as aware of who’s out there, but when I think of the crew around my age: Daniel, Philip, Javier, Josh, Jessica Chastain — who is fucking Stradivarius — what a group! There’s a group that could be in all the classic pictures right now. Like the classics of the seventies or the classics of the forties. I think of that group of actors and it’s like, “Gimme a camera, I got an idea!”
Penn plays LA gangster Mickey Cohen in Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad that also stars Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone. It opens January 11th.