Penn appeared Monday in an interview with the co-star of the new Hulu show The First on NBC’s Today show.
Natascha McElhone said her character is informed by the movement.
Penn disagreed. The two-time Oscar winner says he’s “very suspicious of a movement that gets glommed onto in great stridency and rage and without nuance.”
“I’d like to think that none of it was influenced by what they call the movement of #MeToo,” Penn said. “I think it’s influenced by the things that are developing in terms of the empowerment of women who’ve been acknowledging each other and being acknowledged by men.”
The 58-year-old actor continued: “This is a movement that was largely shouldered by a kind of receptacle of the salacious.”
“We don’t know what’s a fact in many of the cases,” he said, adding, “Salacious is as soon as you call something a movement that is really a series of many individual accusers, victims, accusations, some of which are unfounded. The spirit of much of what has been the #MeToo movement is to divide men and women.”
Penn says he thinks “it’s too black and white.” He says it’s “really good to just slow down.”
Morales disagreed, saying that, “Women would say it’s united women.”
Penn argued that from the women he’s spoken to, “of all walks of life,” he’s learned that “there’s a common sense that is not represented at all in the discussion when it comes to the media discussion of it.”
“The discussion where, ‘if Sean Penn says this, so and so is going to attack him for saying this because of that,’” he said. “I’m very suspicious of a movement that gets glommed onto in great stridency and rage and without nuance. And even when people try to discuss it in a nuanced way, the nuance is attacked.”
Later in the interview, Penn said that he thinks the movement is “too black and white.” He added, “In most things that are very important, it’s really good to just slow down.”
McElhone revealed that the #MeToo movement was actually discussed “a great deal” on set.
“I think what Sean was maybe alluding to is this sort of bubble of actors or people who are in magazines that have gotten a lot of attention from this,” she said. “Of course, it’s terrific that they’ve put a spotlight on it. But now, it’s we need to go into the places where this is happening behind closed doors, and it’s not exposed and those voices aren’t being heard.”
The First centres on a mission to Mars. The president of the United States and three of the five astronauts are women.
Watch part of Penn’s interview in the video above.
—With files from the Associated Press