(NEXSTAR) – Actor and filmmaker Sean Penn is calling for a boycott – and even threatening to smelt his own awards – of Sunday’s Academy Awards if Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn’t given the opportunity to speak during the show.
“There is nothing greater the Academy Awards could do than to give [Zelenskyy] that opportunity to talk to all of us,” Penn, speaking from Poland, said during an interview with CNN. The 61-year-old has been in Ukraine filming a documentary on Russia’s invasion.
Penn continued, saying it is his understanding that the Academy had decided against having Zelenskyy speak.
“If it turns out to be what’s happening, I would encourage everyone involved to know that though it may be their moment … to celebrate their films, it is so much more importantly their moment to shine and to protest and to boycott that Academy Awards,” he added. “And I myself, if it comes back to it, when I return, I will smelt [my awards] in public.”
Cast in bronze and finished with gold plating, the Oscar statuette is among the most coveted awards in the film industry. Penn, a five-time nominee, has won two, both for best actor, in 2003 for “Mystic River” and in 2008 for “Milk.”
The Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Zelenskyy has accused the West of lacking courage as his country fights to stave off Russia’s invading troops, making an exasperated plea for fighter jets and tanks to sustain a defense in a conflict that has ground into a war of attrition.
Speaking after President Joe Biden said in a lacerating speech Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not stay in power — words the White House immediately sought to downplay — Zelenskyy lashed out at the West’s “ping-pong about who and how should hand over jets” and other weapons while Russian missile attacks kill and trap civilians.
“I’ve talked to the defenders of Mariupol today. I’m in constant contact with them. Their determination, heroism and firmness are astonishing,” Zelenskyy said in a video address early Sunday, referring to the besieged southern city that has suffered some of the war’s greatest deprivations and horrors. “If only those who have been thinking for 31 days on how to hand over dozens of jets and tanks had 1% of their courage.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.