Sean Penn has described President Vladimir Putin as a “vessel of nothingness,” and said if he was in a position to tell him something directly, he would “say it by arming Ukrainians completely. Yesterday.”


The Hollywood actor and activist was in Kyiv on Wednesday, Sept. 6 for the Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen conference organized by Olena Zelenska with the theme “Mental Health: Fragility and Resilience of the Future.”

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At a press conference during the event, a Kyiv Post reporter asked Penn: “All the issues we’re discussing here today and all the issues Ukrainian society is facing right now are ultimately caused by one man and that is Vladimir Putin.


“If there was one thing you could say to him right now, what would that be?”



Penn responded by saying the “best definition that most people have ever heard of ‘evil,’ is the absence of good.”


“I think what I see in that person is an absence of anything even vaguely interesting, it’s like a vessel of nothingness,” he said.

Penn went on to note the comments made in his new documentary about Ukraine titled “Superpower,” in which someone describes Putin as a “gangster with nukes.”


“So, I think that if I were in such a position as some of our leaders are, to say something to Vladimir Putin, I would say it by arming Ukrainians completely. Yesterday,” he said.

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Penn said he feels that the dropping of nuclear bombs by the US in 1945 still affects the “psychology of the United States,” adding, “If your greatest courage is caution, there’s nothing left.”


When asked if he thought the US has been too cautious in supplying Ukraine with the weapons it needs to fight Russia’s full-scale invasion, he simply replied: “Yes.”



Penn started filming his documentary about Ukraine’s war in 2021, several months before Russia’s full-scale invasion, with the intention of examining how Volodymyr Zelensky, an actor and comedian, had become president of his country.


However, from the first day of filming in Kyiv and his initial interview with Zelensky, the project took an unexpected direction which, in Penn’s own words: "A lighthearted tale of this comedic actor who had been elected president of Ukraine… became witness to a historic leader and his country’s war for freedom."

That first interview with Ukraine’s President coincided with the launch of Russia’s massive attack and was conducted in a bunker as the first missiles hit the capital.

Penn decided at that point to change the direction and tenor of the project. It was to become an examination of how and why the war started and, as time passed, the indomitable spirit of the country, its people and its leader.

The press statement released with the trailer for the film, first shown as a “work in progress” at the Berlin Film Festival, describes the documentary as presenting Zelensky as "a leader stepping up to embrace his country’s destiny."

It adds: "Overnight, he became the most significant wartime leader of the modern era. This onetime actor turned president is leading his country in conflict with a nuclear superpower, becoming a crucible of history.”

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Comments (3)
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no he wasn't the best husband to madonna, she was a wild woman to handle but sean penn has found his destiny, and ground up and decided to help the world and fight and film the truth of what's happening in ukraine he is doing his best to bring the truth out there for the world to see, i smoke cigarettes too unfortunately but that doesn't change my humanity.....
I okru2
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There must be two Sean Penns. The one I know is a draft dodging a*****e. This new one actually talks sense.
He supports Ukraine right now, so I will put up with him, but he will go back to his old ways eventually, unless he kills himself first chain smoking cigarettes.

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@I okru2,
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I really didn't see where Penn supported draft dodging rich Ukrainians in anything that he said. Fact is, regardless of past history, Penn is doing a lot right now using his fame in a manner to support Ukraine. For that I thank him and he is so totally correct that Biden has been too timid in supporting Ukraine and we should have armed them fully over one year ago and had we have done that the situation on the ground today would be entirely different in the favor of Ukraine. I personally will not be critical of anyone that provides support to Ukraine using what ever method is available to them. No matter your feelings toward Penn there is no question he currently has stepped up to the plate to support Ukraine and for that he deserves thanks rather than condemnation.

Mickey Cashen
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@Tom, Excellent post!
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Well said! @Tom,

The posters trying to detract from Mr. Penn's many good deeds appear to have an agenda of dividing democratic public opinion regarding continued support for Ukraine. ...Most likely such posters are putin's paid trolls.

I have no ties to Ukraine, but am getting fed up with the EU / NA nations delays in giving them whatever they need to beat putin's regime and likeminded russians to a pulp in Ukraine and force them to make reparations. In my two western countries (dual citizenship) next elections, I'm voting specifically for leadership having the courage to comprehensively and immediately ramp up military support for Ukraine. No more political foot draggers and putin admiring pontificators. Such politicians should be held to account during upcoming elections for being perpetuators of this war.