And just like that … Malibu’s Sean Penn trades miniseries for war-time reality

Malibu’s Sean Penn switches roles from movie cameras to real life drama. Contributed Photo.

Longtime Malibu local Sean Penn’s newest miniseries showing on the Starz network is one thing; getting down and dirty in the trenches of Ukraine is another.

The Oscar winner and acclaimed actor is hitting the small screen and streaming with “Gaslit” a political thriller about the Watergate break-in, a historical moment now marking its 50th anniversary. 

He portrays the role of the scandal’s player, John Mitchell, while fellow local Oscar winner Julia Roberts plays his wife, Martha Mitchell. She has said “It’s really exciting to introduce Martha to people who didn’t know about her.”

Roberts says she wanted Penn, her longtime pal, to play the part. Others in the cast include Dan Stevens as former Nixon counsel John Dean while scene-stealer Shea Whigham takes the part of key operative G. Gordon Liddy. The show is playing on Starz now.

But before you could say “Deep Throat,” Sean switched his formal suit and tie for a bulletproof vest and helmet gear. The actor made his way to the day-to-day realities occurring in the horrible war in Ukraine. 

Sean has seen devastation before but never anything like this. The caring 61-year old actor directed a documentary called “Citizen Penn” about his nonprofit group CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort.) The organization was established after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. His foundation provided relief to the victims with desperately needed supplies. 

Now he has ventured into the Ukraine war zone and plunged right into the action. 

As Russia’s Vladimir Putin obliterates the country, Sean was right there doing another documentary, this time on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

It is not Sean’s first trip to Ukraine: He made the long journey in 2021 to do research for the film. President Zelensky issued a statement praising the efforts of the famed actor and director. He said Sean came to Kyiv to “record all the events that are currently happening in Ukraine and to tell the world the truth about Russia’s invasion of our country.” 

The fearless leader added “Penn is among those who support Ukraine in Ukraine today. Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty.” 

Zelensky concluded with these remarks about Sean: “He is demonstrating bravery that many others have been lacking, in particular some Western politicians. The more people like that — true friends of Ukraine, who support the fight for freedom — the quicker we can stop this heinous invasion by Russia.” 

As for Penn, he said last month that the war is “already a brutal mistake of lives taken and hearts broken, and if he doesn’t relent, I believe Mr. Putin will have made a most horrible mistake for all of humankind. President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people have risen as historic symbols of courage and principle. Ukraine is the tip of the spear for the democratic embrace of dreams. If we allow it to fight alone, our soul as America is lost.”

The documentary is being made in conjunction with Vice Studios.

Keep your eye on Malibu Seen for the latest info on Sean’s ambitious project.