Sean Penn—a famous actor who has been accused of beating up a woman—says he’s nothing like Terrence Howard—a famous actor who has been arrested for beating up a woman. And incredibly, Penn is suing Empire showrunner Lee Daniels for $10,000,000—just for making the comparison.
In the Hollywood Reporter story, Daniels defends Howard by pointing out other famous actors who have allegedly beaten their wives and gotten away with it.
“That poor boy,” he says, fiercely protective of his actor. He then alludes to other actors who have been the subject of domestic abuse allegations in the past. “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon,” says Daniels. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”
Enter Sean Penn, who’s calling the comparison “egregious” in a $10,000,000 defamation suit filed today. And it’s true—it’s not a flattering comparison. But what’s not clear is whether it’s untrue.
In the suit, Penn argues, there’s simply nothing to support the allegations that he was ever violent with a woman.
“Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”
But according to multiple reports Penn was accused of domestic violence—in 1988, after his then-wife Madonna called the cops on him. He allegedly terrorized the singer, tying her to a chair and beating her with a bat. At least that’s how the commonly reported version of the story goes—while it’s clear that there was an altercation that night in December of 1988, and that the police got involved, it never reached a court because Madonna reportedly asked that her complaint be withdrawn.
Penn has also been arrested multiple times for assaulting photographers, once serving 33 days for allegedly hanging a photog “by the ankles from a ninth-floor balcony after discovering him in the actor’s hotel room.”
Which is all to say, it’s strange that Terrence Howard isn’t the one who feels offended by the comparison.
Correction: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that Penn was never charged with domestic assault, and that there are conflicting reports about whether or not he was arrested.