Penn confirms secret wedding to Aussie
Sean Penn has confirmed he's a married man, after quietly tying the knot with his 28-year-old Australian girlfriend.
The actor, 59, showed off his wedding band after the topic was raised during an interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week.
"There are reports that you recently got married, is this true?" Meyers asked Penn, prompting him to lift up his ring.
"We did a COVID wedding," Penn said of his wedding to Sydney-born actress-turned-activist Leila George.
"By that I mean it was a county commissioner on Zoom, we were at the house, my two children and her brother, and we did it that way."
Just days ago, the Oscar-winning star gushed over his "extraordinary" girlfriend in an interview with news.com.au.
"I am madly in love with a wonderful, extraordinary Australian woman," Penn said while promoting the non-profit he founded, Community Organised Relief Effort (CORE).
Just days later, news of their wedding came in a roundabout way from their friend, philanthropist Irena Medavoy, who congratulated the newly betrothed couple in a since-deleted Instagram post over the weekend.
Ahead of the top-secret nuptials, Penn was speaking from his Los Angeles home while George was travelling to Georgia. "She is the chief of staff for CORE and is currently setting up contract tracing in remote sites in immigrant communities," he explained.
It's a year of celebrations for the two-time Oscar winner (he received Best Actor trophies in 2004 and 2009, for Mystic River and Milk, respectively), with another milestone approaching as he turns the big 6-0 in two weeks.
He has an unusual attitude towards ageing. "It's about time," he laughs. "I've always thought of myself as a natural-born 77-year-old, so I've got 17 years before I'm going to feel like me.
"I'll finally get 60 done so I can get onto 61, 62, and onwards to 77. When people ask that question on psychological profiles - 'What age do you see yourself most comfortably?' - for me, I don't know why, but it's always, always 77."
And how will he celebrate the milestone birthday? Unusually open about his soon-to-be wife, he offers: "For anyone who knows wonderful Australian women, they know that they are in command of any celebrations that happen. So that's lying in wait for me … or it's not.
"But in any case, because she is a diligent worker in COVID-19 response, any celebration that might happen will be under very rigid policy with very few people."
Some may raise an eyebrow at their 31-year age difference, but Penn and George have much in common, particularly their commitment to philanthropy. He also joined George to support the Meet Me in Australia fundraising event at the LA Zoo to benefit wildfire relief efforts, in March earlier this year.
Penn's famously short fuse has been well documented over the years, though it would seem he's remained on amicable terms with former wives Madonna, with whom he was married from 1985 to 1989, and Robin Wright, from 1996 to 2010, with whom he's raised two children: Dylan, 28, and Hopper, 26.
He also dated Charlize Theron from 2013 to 2016 - although she recently stated categorically that marriage was never in the cards for her and Penn.
Penn's children are both involved in his philanthropic endeavours, as they are his day job in the movie business. He most recently directed both of them in his upcoming drama, Flag Day, in which he also stars. The movie is about the daughter of a con artist who struggles to come to terms with her father's past.
So what was it like directing Dylan, who has the starring role?
"Exhilarating and terrifying," he says, without hesitation. "When I said 'Action!' the first time, I watched and felt every jaw on the crew drop (watching Dylan). She turned out to be a miraculous truth machine and it was thrilling, really thrilling.
"I'd never directed myself before, either, and to do that while taking the position of caring for my daughter's experience would have been way too much had she not been able to bring what had been a lifetime of knowledge of what it was to act on film," he gushes, like any proud father would.
"But she didn't make it easy - an Aries women won't," he laughs, "but she made it possible, which was its own miracle. It's pretty exciting for your favourite actress in the world to be your daughter, and to watch her work. It's really a lucky thing, a lucky thing."
Forbes magazine lists Penn's net worth is in excess of $US150 million. But in contrast to many of his peers, he's not flashy about his fortune.
"I like to spend money on a good car and the ability to move in one way or another, be it by car or plane. I'm not big on fancy houses; I'm not big on fancy cars, for that matter, but I do like to get up and go and do the things I want to do.
"I'm not thinking so much about spending money right now I'm thinking about how I'm going to make some," he says. "And although I don't spend tremendous amounts of money, for something like CORE I will very wilfully spend money."
He also donated resources to the Navajo Nation recently to increase COVID-19 testing and help fight the pandemic.
And how has he fared in lockdown?
"Well, I am probably the most organically insulated person I know, from having to really deal with the difficulty and the fatigue of it. For me, my medicine is knowing just how lucky I am," he said.
"My children are healthy, knock on wood, my mother lives two blocks away, she's 92 years old and she's healthy, knock on wood, but tomorrow's another day," he shrugs. "We are living in Groundhog Day, and it gets on all of us in one way or another."
He's passionate on this topic: "What really hits me is, 'Oh my God, what are people going through when they've got three young kids in the house, they've just been fired, they live in a multigenerational home where they can't get away from the possibility of spread, and they're truly not knowing how they're going to pay for food?'"
"I have not contracted COVID, and part of that is because I'm diligent and most of our work is outdoors. We have most of our (CORE) meetings outdoors, we distance as much as we can, we wear our masks, and we are tested constantly."
His voice escalates as he sounds off. "When I see people who self-righteously say that this thing doesn't exist, or 'I am not going to wear a mask and you can't contact trace me!' Well, you (people) are violating my civil liberties. Those are the examples of cowardice in our time that are the greatest threat," he says, shaking his head.
"We all have to stand together. I've had many friends who have suffered tremendously, I have had acquaintances who have died, and then I've had countless friends who have tested positive but for the most part were asymptomatic, though there are many indications that there will be health issues that will plague them for the rest of their lives. This is dangerous in ways that we don't know yet."
According to Penn, is it all doom and gloom for the future?
"I'm torn between aspiration, pragmatism, and optimism … but we will survive this."
Originally published as Penn confirms secret wedding to Aussie