Sean Penn Spent ’15 Years Miserable on Sets’ Between ‘Milk’ and ‘Daddio’

Sean Penn had been “miserable” at work since 2008 — and then “Daddio” came along.

Penn told the New York Times that 2008’s “Milk” was the “last time I had a good time” making a feature, prior to his new indie film with co-star and producer Dakota Johnson.

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“I went 15 years miserable on sets,” Penn said. “‘Milk’ was the last time I had a good time.”

The infamously candid star continued, “I feel like an actor who is playing a leading role and is a known actor and is being paid well has a leadership position on a film and you’ve got to show up with energy and be a bodyguard for the director in some way. I was faking my way through that stuff and that was exhausting. Mostly what I thought was just, ‘What time is it? When are we going to get off?'”

And instead of retiring, Penn felt the need to continue acting to maintain his lifestyle.

“I was sure it was done, but I didn’t know how I was going to keep my house running or travel freely or things like that if I stopped,” he said.

“Daddio” was different. “I felt like this could be a pleasant experience and that’s gonna matter to me now, maybe more than in the past,” Penn said.

Penn previously said during a June 13 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” that if “Daddio” was “directed by a man or written by a man, well, that might be the last job they ever had,” due to his controversial character. The film was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Christy Hall.

“Daddio” lead star Johnson agreed with Penn, telling IndieWire that it was writer/director Hall who balanced Penn’s gruff character in the script.

“Behind Sean’s character, specifically, I think a woman having written that character and directed that character somehow makes it, in this world today, permissible rather than cancelable because, you know, toxic masculinity, etc.,” Johnson said.

If “Milk” were made today, it would not be with Penn in the titular role. Penn says Hollywood is “too timid” to cast straight actors in queer roles today, and “Milk” couldn’t have been made by modern standards.

“It could not happen in a time like this,” Penn said of his casting as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected public official in California. “It’s a time of tremendous overreach. It’s a timid and artless policy toward the human imagination.”

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