In a pair of stops on his press tour for a novel called—excuse me while I mainline four shots of tequila—Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff: A Novel, Sean Penn behaved like an asshole who skims one nonfiction book a year and uses every single opportunity (usually at parties) to tell people about how essential it was. This guy’s ego is on another planet, and his condescension towards everyone else on this one knows no bounds. His is a leathery, miserable smugness, and just thinking about these two interviews—one with Stephen Colbert, the other with Marc Maron—makes me want to ralph. Alas, it’s the job. So here we go.
Let’s start with Colbert. Soon after sitting down on the Late Show stage, a very tired-seeming Penn explained that he had taken some Ambien before a recent flight, and that it hadn’t yet worn off. Then he pulled out a pack of cigarettes, lit one up, and told Colbert that he loved writing his first novel (again, that thing is called Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff: A Novel) because—allow me to quote him:
“I increasingly don’t play well with others.”
Because he “didn’t have collaborators,” he had complete autonomy over the project. “I was never disappointed with me,” he said to scattered laughter.
This meandering rant about the creative process and attention spans eventually led to Penn’s frustrations with the amount of content there is to ingest at any given moment. He says he fell in love with acting because, back in the before time, people would “go into a movie theater in the dark with strangers [and watch] something that would last forever. And now there’s so much content. I can’t keep track with it and nothing seems special.”
Then things get... confusing:
COLBERT: So you’re blaming this on Netflix.
COLBERT: ‘Cause they’re doing 700 shows this year. That’s a lot of content.
PENN: And probably paying off settlements for years.
COLBERT: Netflix is?
PENN: I would assume.
COLBERT: I don’t know what you mean. What do you mean? I took us down the Netflix path. I’m sorry that I did, but, what settlements are you talking about from Netflix?
PENN: Maybe we should move on.
Maybe this has to do with his El Chapo documentary! Maybe not. Either way, Colbert quickly changes the subject to Penn’s smoking. After sharing that the smell gives him happy memories of his parents, he asks Penn to quit. “Those things are bad for you,” he says.
“It’s job security for oncologists,” responds Penn, to scattered laughs from the audience.
Meanwhile, over on Marc Maron’s podcast, Penn was asked about his relationship with ex-wife Robin Wright. Here’s what he said:
“We don’t have a lot of conversation. We don’t not get along. We have very separate relationships with our kids at this point and it seems to work better that way because they are making their own decisions. And as it turned out, she and I did not share the same ethical views on parenting, including the continuing parenting of adult children.”
Though I wanted a little more information about their conflicting “ethical views on parenting,” all Penn was willing to divulge was this bit of word salad:
“It was better for her to be entirely whatever she is, and available to them, and they love their mother and they have that relationship, and for me to be entirely available but also able to not—for us not to depend on what always will be conflicting ethics.”
When Maron asks for more details about those “conflicting ethics,” Penn says that would be too personal of a question, and moves on. Speaking of moving on, I have to go and do literally anything but think about Sean Penn.