Sean Penn says Donald Trump's COVID response felt like 'gunning down' vulnerable communities
"It really felt like someone with a machine gun gunning down communities that were the most vulnerable from a turret at the White House," the actor said during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday.
Penn, who directed the film Flag Day starring his daughter Dylan Penn, also called Trump's administration "obscene."
"We were not only as a country but as a world, let down and ultimately neglected misinformed, had truth and reason assaulted under what was in all terms an obscene administration, humanly and politically," Penn said.
In comparison, he said, seeing President Joe Biden's response to the pandemic felt like "the sun was rising."
The actor had been asked about his own coronavirus relief efforts during the pandemic, including putting together the largest testing system in Los Angeles through his organization CORE. In September, Penn performed in a star-studded virtual table read of Fast Times at Ridgemont High to raise funds for CORE.
Flag Day, based on Jennifer Vogel's 2005 memoir, Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father's Counterfeit Life, is the first time Penn directed himself alongside Dylan, his daughter with ex-wife Robin Wright, and his son Hopper, who has a small role in the film.
During the conference at Cannes, Penn said he thought of Dylan right away while he was reading the book, which is about Vogel's struggle to come to terms with her father's con artist past.
"There were certain images that come emotionally to one when they read something … the first image I had when I was reading this script the first time was [Dylan's] face," he explained.
And when asked if the movie reflected his own parenting given the time commitments of being an actor, Penn said to check his IMDb for the "months of the jobs" he took during Dylan's childhood.
"One of the great things about the privilege I've had in working in film and being a parent is that, while there are periods of time where one's away … once you're done with that job, you're the only parent in town 24/7, and that's when the kids get upset," the filmmaker responded.
Flag Day's premiere at the festival on Saturday marked the third time Penn has been in the Main Competition section as a director, following The Pledge in 2001 and The Last Face in 2016.