Sean Penn is Suing Lee Daniels for Comparing Him to Terrence Howard

In a recent interview, Empire co-creator Lee Daniels compared his star Terrence Howard (who has a long history of domestic abuse) to actor Sean Penn (who has a similar history with Madonna).

Not taking too kindly to the comparison, Penn has responded by suing Daniels for $10 million, saying the director referenced “two of the greatest actors and humanitarians of our time,” specifically Penn and Brando, in a “misguided campaign to profit and further bolster and brand his show.”

Sean Penn Terrence Howard Lee Daniels Lawsuit

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Penn specifically took issue with the following, a section in which Lee defended Howard’s abusive past to the Hollywood Reporter:

“That poor boy,” he says, fiercely protective of his actor. He then alludes to other actors who have been the subject of domestic abuse allegations in the past. “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon,” says Daniels. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

The defamation suit calls the claim “egregious,” explaining:

As a result of Penn’s status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks. But Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.

Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.

For reference: Madonna did not press charges in 1987 when Penn hit her with a baseball bat since he was already serving jail time for assaulting a photographer.

Penn was however charged with felony domestic assault in 1988 after he allegedly tied Madonna to a chair and tortured her for nine hours. That time he pleaded to a misdemeanor.

You can read the complaint in full on Document Cloud and more importantly, you can read all about Penn’s abusive past via the New York Post.

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