Sean Penn Pickets Outside Disney; Slams AI: “Has A Certain Sickness Attached To It”

Sean Penn has protested wars in Iraq, walked with democracy demonstrators in Cairo and spearheaded natural relief efforts. But today in Burbank, CA on the 19th day of the SAG-AFTRA strike, and 92nd day of the WGA work stoppage, the two-time Oscar winner braved the muggy 87-degree weather in support of his fellow writers and actors.

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If you glance on social media, you might notice that some stars are off on far away vacations during this tumultuous time as the guilds are at odds with the AMPTP, but not Penn who circled Disney Studios several times today with his Into the Wild star Emile Hirsch. They were joined by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, Yellowjackets’ Melanie Lynskey, Veep‘s Timothy Simons, 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer, 2x Oscar winner Jane Fonda and Mrs. Davis co-creator Damon Lindelof.

“There’s going to have to be a reality check with the producers in the sense that long term, an exploited business is a not productive one for anyone and that this is a quality of life and basic decency issue that the idea that anyone would even have to seek to have, let’s say the AI ownership of another human being’s anything has a certain sickness attached to it,” Penn exclaimed about the issues impacting actors currently.

Later on Penn and Hirsch stood with SAG-AFTRA negotiator and national executive director Duncan Crabtree Ireland for a press op in which the latter said “the irony isn’t lost, we’re standing out of Disney, and one of Disney’s most famous movies ever is about the evil witch who steals the voice of that protagonist in The Little Mermaid; and the idea that someone can have their voice or their image or their likeness or their body stolen and used forever without their permission, without their compensation — these digital technologies is something we can fight against and have to stand a strong line, whether it’s at Disney or Netflix or anywhere else.”

Penn is stoked by the energy that SAG-AFTRA is resonating.

“I think it’s more than impressive the level of commitment that the overall guild has from top to bottom, bottom to top. It’s obviously a period of extremely serious issues; people are making the sacrifice for very clear principled reasons,” the actor said.

“My sense is that all these and writers out here are more committed than has historically been the case, (looking to make) real substantial gains,” he continued.

“It’s really inspiring and important that everyone is out here,” said Hirsch, “this is all of our livelihoods.”

Penn’s Milk co-star added, “We believe in this craft and this art — I think it’s something that is worth preserving and fighting for.”

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