Actor Sean Penn has filed a $10 million defamation suit against Empire co-creator, Lee Daniels. According to NBC News, Penn filed the suit because of comments Daniels made about him in The Hollywood Reporter. In an interview, Daniels said, “[Terrence Howard] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon. That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”
Daniels was referring to Howard’s career in Hollywood. He was once on tap to be the “next Denzel,” but his career was derailed by accusations of domestic abuse. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Howard said he was paid more than star Robert Downey in the first Iron Man movie, but was not called back for the sequel. He later said he was declared persona non grata by Hollywood film directors and had to take a role on the TV show Empire, which turned out to be a huge hit.
However, Penn’s lawsuit says the comparison to Howard is unjustified.
“While he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn [unlike Howard] has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest,” the lawsuit said.
Penn had a bad boy reputation in the past. His volatile marriage to Madonna lasted four years and she accused him of physically abusing her. He also got into several bar fights and fired guns at helicopters that were trying to take pictures of his wedding. The Huffington Post reported that Penn was alleged to have hit Madonna with a baseball bat in 1987. And in 1988, Madonna told police he bound her to a chair, roughed her up and threatened to cut her hair off. However, Penn’s violent past didn’t stop him from going on to have a successful career in Hollywood. He has won two Academy awards and been nominated five times.
In recent years Penn has also gained a reputation as a humanitarian, providing relief efforts to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. In Haiti, Penn has used his own money to fund an operation.
The lawsuit states that while Penn is a public figure, he has the right to defend himself and would not tolerate “the reckless and malicious behavior of others.”