You know how some people grow soft in their old age? Yeah, Sean Penn isn’t one of them.

The intense actor gave an appropriately intense interview to Esquire for the magazine’s recent “Meaning of Life” issue, saying a lot of harsh stuff about his divorce from Robin Wright (“You sit there and you go, ‘What the f–k was I doing? What was I doing believing that this person was invested in this way?’ Which is a fantastically strong humiliation”) and detailing his volunteer efforts in Haiti. The whole thing is fairly quotable, if not quite at the level of “Jude Law is one of our finest actors” — but these bon mots are particularly great:

On the aftermath of his son’s brutal skateboarding accident:

“And when he was recovering, seeing the morphine go into him and give him relief created kind of a love affair for me with morphine and that usage of it.”

On why Haiti kicks America’s ass:

“If you think about how pussified this country has become, right? Haiti is so far from being pussified.”

On the best way to solicit donations for a charity:

“In the beginning, my thing was always blackmail.”

On modern Hollywood’s biggest problem:

“Mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-f–k-rat movies, most actors and actresses.”

On his peers:

“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 f–ing Stradivarius — what a group!”

(Age check! Penn is 52. Daniel Day-Lewis is 55. Javier Bardem is 43. Josh Brolin is 44. Jessica Chastain is… 35. One of these things really is not like the others.)

And, finally, on the great Sean Penn himself:

“When I got involved in the movies, I was a genius in terms of how the movies that were made in the generation that inspired me got made.” And furthermore: “In school I was a genius of the year preceding the year I was in, every year.” One thing’s for sure: He’s certainly a genius in terms of sentence structure.

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Gangster Squad
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