It’s no secret that Sean Penn isn’t exactly the nicest guy in Hollywood, but one director may have taken some rumors a bit too far — and it could wind up costing him big time.
Penn has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Lee Daniels after the Empire director implied he beats women.
During the interview in question, Daniels was trying to point out what he said is unfair, racist attention on Empire star Terrence Howard.
“[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f***in’ demon,” Daniels told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”
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Penn, who has been arrested several times for assaulting various people — including the paparazzi and a musician who once worked with his ex-wife Madonna — has also been rumored for years to have perpetrated a devastatingly violent attack on the pop queen. According to sources — and retold countless times, including in a 1992 Entertainment Weekly article — Penn allegedly tied Madonna to a chair, beat her for nine hours and threatened her with a gun before she was able to escape. No charges were pressed. Madonna filed for divorce within the week of the alleged attack.
But according to Penn’s lawsuit against Daniels, it’s all BS, and libelous BS at that.
“As a result of Penn’s status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous and baseless attacks,” the complaint reads. “But Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.
“Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, 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.”
Madonna has never spoken publicly about the alleged attack and has maintained that Penn is the love of her life, as she revealed in her documentary Truth or Dare, and just welcomed him to her concert at Madison Square Garden last week.
“I did a show at Madison Square Garden the other night, if you heard about it. And my ex-husband was there! Could you imagine?” she told her audience the next night.
“He had been at my show 30 years earlier when I was at Madison Square Garden, and he was very upset with me for wearing a costume that was too revealing. That’s not a lie! Anyway, after the show he wrote me a letter and said he finally appreciates my art. And that is what I have to say about marriage, OK? Thirty f***ing years later.”
We’re not sure if anecdotes like that help or hurt Penn’s cause, but it will be interesting to see if Madonna is deposed in the case.