Sean Penn blasts fellow actors for putting money before art

From The Guardian UK:

Campaigning actor hits out at Hollywood contemporaries for contributing to ‘consumerist mosh pit’ of modern movie business, Friday 14 December 2012

The Oscar-winning actor and director Sean Penn has laid into Hollywood stars for being more interested in selling perfume and jewellery than shooting decent movies.

Interviewed in the new issue of Esquire, Penn lambasted his fellow thespians for taking up commercial endorsements and agreeing to shoot films that he clearly believes are below acceptable quality levels. “I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing – [forthcoming Ruben Fleisher film] Gangster Squad. But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low,” he told the magazine. “Very low. And mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-f*ck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody’s got a modelling contract, everybody’s selling jewellery and perfume.”

Penn, who largely avoids commercially oriented films and most recently starred as an ageing goth rock star who goes on a road trip in the indie drama This Must Be the Place, compared the current state of Hollywood unfavourably with the early 70s, pre-blockbuster era of risk-taking and adventurousness on the part of studios.

“When I was growing up and somebody like Robert De Niro had a movie come out, it was a cultural event,” he said. “Because he had such a confidence and a single mission that was so intimate. But when people start using themselves as instruments of a kind of consumerist mosh pit, they’re helping that take over. I mean, you are a soldier for it or you’re a soldier against it. That’s all there is to it. And we have so little of that intimacy left, it’s no wonder that interpersonal relationships have become text relationships. It’s a texting orgy. When is somebody gonna sit there, with their mate or their child, and just look them in the eye and say, ‘I love you’? When is that life?”

Penn is not alone in his assertion that the Hollywood studio system increasingly steers clear of films it deems unlikely to achieve spectacular blockbuster success. Actor Rashida Jones, whose recently released film Celeste and Jesse Forever touched on the issue, has said she believes it is a “two-way street”, with the onus also on audiences to demand more unorthodox fare. “I would say there is some feeding of some – as my character says in the movie – ‘pretty garbagey stuff’, but we’re also eating the garbage,” she said. “So people have to show that there’s a mature, complex moviegoing audience that wants to see – we have to see, we have to demand the better stuff.

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