Sean Penn has spoken about how he initially meant for his Ukraine documentary Superpower, which he co-directed with Aaron Kaufman, to be a “lighthearted” portrait of the nation’s actor-turned-president Volodymyr Zelensky earlier than the Russian invasion of its European neighbor in early 2022 triggered him to pivot to creating a conflict film.
In an look on CBS Mornings on Wednesday, Penn defined how that shift occurred and the function that delays, together with the COVID-19 pandemic, performed in shaping the scope of the movie.
Penn famous he initially met Zelensky over Zoom, “lengthy earlier than the drums had been beating on the Russian invasion,” when the Ukraine president was within the information for his function within the “controversial telephone name,” as Penn put it, that in the end resulted in then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment.
“Then COVID occurred, and that delayed our begin,” Penn recalled. “By the point we bought there, issues had been increase fairly a bit in November 2021. Then additionally one thing had come up that made it not possible to fulfill with the president, and I had at all times stated to him that I didn’t need him to comply with take part within the documentary till we had agreed to fulfill with out cameras in individual. I simply thought it was a greater method to be sized up and for him too as a result of I needed him unguarded if we had been going to do it.”
The 2 lastly met in-person off-camera on Feb. 23, 2022 for what Penn referred to as “an excellent assembly,” the place the pair agreed they’d begin filming the subsequent day.
That evening Russia’s invasion started, however Zelensky was nonetheless prepared to make the movie.
“Late within the morning we bought a name from the president’s workplace that nonetheless he was going to honor our settlement to start out taking pictures that day,” Penn stated.
When requested by CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King why Zelensky was nonetheless prepared to doc what was occurring, Penn stated, “I believe that he understands that a part of war-fighting within the new world is communications on a number of ranges.”
Penn ended up visiting Ukraine seven occasions, which prompted co-host Tony Dokoupil to ask why he was so prepared to place himself in peril together with his frequent journeys to a conflict zone.
“I’m very inquisitive about issues. I’m an knowledgeable in nothing, however like the remainder of us, we will have a sense of issues after we’re current to them. I’ve the posh of having the ability to journey at will at most occasions, and I’ve a well-known face that will get me entry to individuals and locations that I in any other case wouldn’t,” Penn stated earlier than including that he was impressed by the unity he noticed in Ukraine, which he’s spoken about earlier than.
As for what Penn hopes U.S. audiences get out of Superpower, streaming on Paramount+ on Monday, he stated the movie supplies “context to People across the kitchen desk to grasp the methods by which all the pieces that occurs in Ukraine shall be on our desk, and that it’s not as simple as to say, ‘Oh, we’re placing cash abroad.’ No, it’s an awesome funding in our future and in the way forward for democracy.”
Watch Penn’s full interview beneath.