Sean Penn, the renowned actor and director, recently discussed the evolution of his Ukraine documentary, “Superpower,” in an interview on CBS Mornings. Originally intending for the film to be a “lighthearted” portrayal of Ukraine’s actor-turned-president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Penn had to shift gears and pivot to making a war movie due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.
Penn revealed that he initially connected with Zelensky over a Zoom call, long before the Russian invasion. Zelensky was in the news for his involvement in a controversial phone call that became a part of Donald Trump’s first impeachment. However, the start of filming was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time Penn and his team arrived in Ukraine in November 2021, tensions were already escalating. Unfortunately, circumstances arose that made it impossible to meet with the president, but Penn insisted on having an in-person, off-camera meeting to establish a genuine connection.
Finally, on February 23, 2022, Penn and Zelensky had their long-awaited meeting, which Penn described as “very good.” They agreed to start filming the next day. However, that night, Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Despite the circumstances, Zelensky honored their agreement and allowed the documentary crew to continue filming.
When asked why Zelensky was still willing to document the ongoing conflict, Penn explained that he believes the president understands the importance of communication on multiple levels in modern warfare.
Throughout the course of filming, Penn visited Ukraine seven times, facing the dangers and risks of being in a war zone. He expressed his curiosity about the situation and his privilege as a renowned figure, which grants him access to people and places that others may not have.
Penn was inspired by the unity he witnessed in Ukraine, which motivated him to share the country’s story with U.S. audiences. He emphasized that the documentary aims to provide Americans with context and a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in Ukraine’s situation. It is not simply a matter of providing financial aid to another country, but rather an investment in democracy and the future.
“Superpower” is set to stream on Paramount+ on Monday, offering viewers a closer look at the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and its implications for the global community.
In the interview, Penn also took the opportunity to discuss his experiences and motivations in making the documentary. He shared his insights and reflections on the situation in Ukraine, shedding light on the importance of international engagement and the challenges faced by war-torn nations.
The interview concluded with a call to action for viewers to watch the documentary and gain a deeper understanding of the events unfolding in Ukraine. Penn’s hope is that the film will spark conversations around American kitchen tables and encourage individuals to recognize the significance of supporting Ukraine and safeguarding democracy worldwide.
The full interview with Sean Penn can be watched on CBS Mornings’ YouTube channel.