Sean Penn and Dylan Penn make Flag Day a family affair

MALIBU, Calif .– Of course, Sean Penn has two Oscars. But at home, his children Dylan Frances Penn and Hopper Jack Penn wanted to bomba...


MALIBU, Calif .– Of course, Sean Penn has two Oscars. But at home, his children Dylan Frances Penn and Hopper Jack Penn wanted to bombard him with tomatoes.

“I tell awful jokes,” Sean admitted. “They always tell me, ‘You probably should have stopped there.'”

“Like you do with your father,” Dylan added, rolling his eyes affectionately. Despite her father’s failures as a stand-up comic, she trusts him as a director who could kickstart her acting career – if she wants to. “Flag Day”, which created in competition in Cannes and is in theaters Aug. 20, stars the two in an adaptation of journalist Jennifer Vogel’s memoir, “Flim-Flam Man”, about his precarious young adulthood in the orbit of his charismatic crook father, who died as a result of a high-speed police chase.

Sean gave the book to Dylan when she was a teenager. She has passed. Now 30, it took her almost 15 more years to agree to make the film, long enough for her 61-year-old father, Sean, to come to the dual role of director and actor. principal, the first time he tried to do both. “I don’t think stereophonically,” Sean said.

He had an easier time convincing his son, Hopper, to sign a small role as Vogel’s brother.

“He just asked me to play Nick and that was it,” Hopper said via email.

Sean and Dylan sat in their front yard in the shade of an Airstream trailer named Las Vegas, in honor of Sean’s planned flight to Leila George. (Due to the pandemic, the couple were instead married by a county commissioner on Zoom last summer as Sean’s nonprofit CORE opened a Covid-19 test site at Dodger Stadium which has since evolved into a fleet of mobile vaccination units.)

Along with three large dogs continually changing their minds about where to take a nap, the two talked to each other and were indulgently interrupted, as they ended their mature relationship. “I know what the stamps are on her passport – and she knows mine,” Sean said. “And it was exciting that we got to transfer it to a movie.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

It’s a film about finding your own identity apart from your parents. Dylan, you avoided acting. You worked in an advertising agency, you helped edit scripts, you delivered pizzas, how was your advice?

DYLAN PENN Terrible.

SEAN PENN It terrified me. All these fraternity houses around UCLA

DYLAN I started being a model six months after being a pizza delivery guy. I would work nights making pizza deliveries, but during the day I would get my hair done and make up completely for a shoot. So I would show up to these fraternity houses and they would say, “Oh, did anyone order a stripper? ” Nope! Just a pizza. I always thought I would be in the film industry, but I expected to be behind the camera. When I was 15, 16, the first time you came to me with this project, I just felt like it was a really silly thing to do.

Acting?

DYLAN Adults dress up as different people. The real reason I started playing is because I told my parents [her mother is the actor Robin Wright] I finally wanted to direct, and they both told me that I had to know what it’s like to be an actor before directing so that I would know how to direct an actor.

Was this movie always going to be you two?

SEA I was going to participate in it first as an actor. She didn’t feel ready for this. And then when it came back, it came to me as a director. So I was just going to direct it. And then we ended up in a dead end about a month into the shoot, and I had to go for it and I’m so glad I did.

DYLAN It was a real shock because we have never worked together. The idea that he was leading me was already like a big company. The idea of ​​being so vulnerable with your own family in front of 40 or 50 crew members is intimidating.

SEA Your dirty laundry will be aired daily. I’m not talking about your family history of dirty laundry, but I mean the emotional interactions from that day. But on the other hand, I’ve never been so excited on a film set than when I was in a scene with her, or just watching her kill her. In particular, the thing that all the actors say, but very few do, is that listening is everything. She listens in a way that I love to watch because she doesn’t tell you what she’s thinking. I like to bring the camera closer to her because she’s not going to wink at you.

What about Sean as a director that makes him unique?

DYLAN His vision is so fully realized in advance. Even working in a space where, financially, it was a bit of a constraint, there was no limit to making this vision a reality. An accessory, a location, my hair. Literally the opening where Regina King and I had a scene together. I walked in and he said, “You wouldn’t wear mascara.” And I remember being so pissed off. It was a 10 minute fight to get the mascara off.

SEA It was a two-and-a-half-hour standoff.

DYLAN I was wrong. But I’m stubborn and it was a struggle.

SEA I’ll just say on your behalf, many times she had a different point of view, more often than not I have come to think she has the right idea. So I would be very interested to see the things she does.

Acting dynasties date back to the Barrymores. But it feels like your family is shaping a ruling dynasty. Dylan, both of your parents released movies in the last year that they were directing, and Sean, your father, Leo Penn, was a director.

SEA I spent a lot of time with him when I was a kid on sets. One hour television dramas. He was much more patient. A gentler kind. But I’m sure a lot of my general idea of ​​a director’s job comes from him.

And he directed you to “The Little House on the Prairie”?

SEA It was extra summer money when I was a kid. I didn’t think I wanted to get involved in cinema until my last year of high school.

And “Judgment in Berlin” [a 1988 film that featured Sean as a trial witness].

SEA It was a great experience. We are talking about in this story, how many of your parents do you really know? The disappointments in the relationship between John and Jennifer – by John To Jennifer.

Even with a gentle, open and loving man, you had to go to Berlin, knowing [that during World War II] he had carried out these low-level bombing missions practically where we were, and walked with him through a plaza where mothers pushed strollers. I won’t call it regret, but the humanization of what he had done from the air had devastated him.

Knowing his parents reminds me of Dylan’s Instagram post from a few years ago on your father’s first wedding day.

DYLAN It was the first time I realized, “Oh, my parents are people without me.” And it’s like on a deep level, after you’ve gone through a lot of family therapy. I get asked so much: “Wait, so are you Madonna’s daughter?” Ah, OK ! He was married to her – they had a life together.

You were 5 years old when you left Los Angeles to settle in Northern California. Just before, your mom was surprised by people with guns in your driveway. Do you remember that?

DYLAN I remember it very well. It was me, my mom and my brother in the car. We got there around 10 pm and these two guys were standing in the aisle. My mom just said, “Don’t get out of the car. Do not make noise. She got out and they pointed a gun at her stomach and she threw the keys in the bushes and pulled us out of the car. That superhero thing that moms take on when their kids are in danger.

SEA And then they took the car.

DYLAN They crashed.

SEA They eventually hit a dumpster and ran away. They actually grabbed the second guy with an Air Unit heat sensor. He had entered a dumpster himself, but because he had run, his body was hot and they could see his heat.

DYLAN [This is one] reason my mom said she didn’t want us growing up in this paparazzi frenzy that LA was becoming. Now that’s beyond what it was in the 90s.

It’s virtually impossible for anyone not to notice how much you look like your mother. Inside, do you see your father?

DYLAN Oh my God. I feel like we’re both very alpha personalities, but with that, we’re also introverts in terms of privacy. I think a lot of my strength comes from watching my dad. My mom too, but just in different ways. I also think we see things the same and react emotionally the same, just in terms of, like the movies we watch, that we cry about –

SEA All.

DYLAN It’s like what a lot of people have with their best friends. You both observe the same things.

SEA Through a similar lens.

DYLAN Yeah, through a similar lens.

Some of these scenes seem like they were difficult to shoot, really heartbreaking. You record her as she watches you die onscreen.

DYLAN It is a terrible thing to watch. It was the first time that I felt 100% like my dad wasn’t there – this is my dad – and I really felt like he was shooting himself in the head. I was crying and I could hear him cry behind the camera.

SEA Watch you cry for me. [Fake sobbing] It’s so sad to see you lose your father!

Were you crying too?

SEA She made me cry a lot. She makes I cry a lot. You sort of feel like someone should call child protection services to direct you. What are you doing to your child?

There is a line in this movie: “I think the greatest hope a man can have is to leave something beautiful behind him, something he has done.” Am I the only one who thinks this line resonated with you?

SEA Oh no. It resonates with me as you say. Yes. Look, I don’t know what else I was doing here. Now with two kids I’m so proud of who are already getting things done with their own donations. On a beautiful day, despite a pandemic and everything, you kinda go there, it’s all gravy from here. Strike wood. [Knocks on a palm tree] But without a doubt, I would be lost without them.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Sean Penn and Dylan Penn make Flag Day a family affair
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