OnlineHost: AOL's Entertainment Asylum launches a new year of Preview Thursday! This week we are proud to welcome award-winning actor Sean Penn to AOL Live. Sean can currently be seen in the film “Hurlyburly.” Welcome to EA and AOL LIVE Mr. Sean Penn!
Question: Have you ever been online?
Sean Penn: I don't think so. I’m a little bit computer illiterate.
Question: Were you drawn to the character in “Hurlyburly” because it was a play?
Sean Penn: Well, I think if that were what drew me, I might have done Annie!
Question: What was your very first role? And were you nervous?
Sean Penn: I'm trying to think. I've never really been one to get what they call stage fright so much. The first role was something on stage and it was 20-something years ago. So no, I tend to have an adrenaline rush, which is closer to the description, I think.
OnlineHost: Do you get an adrenaline rush from all your roles?
Sean Penn: I think that any time you really concentrate, there's a certain amount of adrenaline rush, yeah.
Question: Out of all the films you have made, which are you most proud of and which are you least? And why?
Sean Penn: Well, I think that when you direct a movie or write it. And in the case of the two movies I did, I wrote and directed, they occupy a special place for you. I would say that right now I'm very proud of the way that Tony Drazan was able to put “Hurlyburly” together.
Question: Earlier in your career you were in talks to do movies with Hal Ashby and John Cassavetes, but unfortunately both men passed away. Are there any current directors which you would have an equivalent excitement about working with?
Sean Penn: There are a few directors around who I have some excitement about spending my $7 at the theatre watching their movies. I don't have any particular excitement about working with any specific director or actor at this point.
Question: Great interview in Sunday NY Times. Did Nick Cage give you any flack for your comments about him?
Sean Penn: I don't see anything disparaging about the things I said about Nick Cage. I think they were fairly accurate, and one of the things I said referred to his tremendous acting talent.
Question: You were on an episode of “Ellen” - will you ever guest star on TV again? What show would you want to do?
Sean Penn: I'm confused by the question. There's something so immediate about TV that these questions about TV throw me! LOL!
Question: What was it like working with Kevin Spacey? I love that guy!
Sean Penn: I love that guy too! He's one of the most gifted, tremendous actors we've got and someone I've been wanting to work with for a long time. He's a great guy.
Question: I thoroughly enjoyed your cynical and satirical portrayal of a Hollywood producer and his accompanying dysfunctional relationships in “Hurly.” What are your thoughts of Tony Drazan?
Tony orchestrated the movie beautifully, I thought. And he had a huge group
of actors and a short amount of time to work with. To move into a film
production after working in a play, I thought would be tough, but it turned
out to be quite a song.
Question: Would you ever do a "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" sequel? But this time you
come back as a teacher? Sean Penn: The Mint has not printed enough money for me to consider this yet!
Question: Do you ever wish that you could go back and start over again and just be a normal person? In the sense that not everyone knows who you are and your life history.
Sean Penn: I'm weeping now. It's a nice thought.
Question: What movie are you working on now?
Sean Penn: I'm not.
Question: Sean, what's your opinion about the quality of movies today?
OnlineHost: Wow, he's not saying anything.
Sean Penn: I'm being honest, there's nothing to say.
Question: I loved the movie "Dead Man Walking." How long did it take you to prepare for the role?
Sean Penn: I don't remember exactly how much time between when I started reading the script to when I started to work. I think you start to prepare the minute you read something.
OnlineHost: Do you have a specific routine for roles?
Sean Penn: It varies from role to role and the type of the piece and the people you're working with. All those factors contribute to how you function on a movie.
Question: Where does the title "Hurlyburly" come from? What does it mean?
Sean Penn: They should refer to the first page of Macbeth.
Question: What are you playing in the next Woody Alien project?
Sean Penn: I play an awful lot of jazz guitar in the 1930s.
Question: What was the most exciting part of filming 'Thin Red Line"?
Sean Penn: Well, outside of the excitement of being able to participate in anything with somebody like Terry Malick who I have a great admiration for, was diving the Great Barrier Reef on the weekend.
Question: Do you see actors any differently as a director than you did when you were only acting?
Sean Penn; I don't think so. I think that you become a bit enlightened to the concerns of the filmmaking process more when you direct. And so you have a tendency to see directors differently after you've been one.
Question: Sean! Greetings from Maine. Would you ever do another movie with Robert DeNiro? I loved "We're No Angels."
Sean Penn: 1 think, you know, if the right project kind of came along that I would be able to direct, I would love to do that. To act with him would be to ACT, and I'm not sure how much I want to do that again. But there's no better actor on the planet than DeNiro.
OnlineHost: Are you saying you are going to retire?
Sean Penn: This goes back to my concerns about how busy they are at the Mint.
Question: Sean, who are the funniest Hollywood people to hang with?
Sean Penn: This unqualified, James Russo.
Question: Although I greatly admired yours and Spacey's performances in "Hurlyburly," I thought you were both cast to type.
Was there ever any consideration of swapping your casting?
Sean Penn: No.
Question: Do you still find time to go surfing?
Sean Penn: Very little. Not enough. Well, I dived a lot in Australia, but it takes a lot of time to do.
Question: What was your most rewarding role?
Well, rewarding is a broad term. At this stage, what would be rewarding
would be for audiences to want to watch.
I don't mean just fluffy subjects, but the perspectives they take on different subjects. "Hurlyburly" is the only one out there as far as I think which is actually taking on the subject that it's presenting.
OnlineHost: Is there another movie that falls into this?
Sean Penn: Over the years there have been many, sure.
Question: Have you thought of starting a music career like your brother?
Sean Penn: Yeah, I again, the only other unqualified thing I would say is that whoever is asking that question, you don't want me to do that!
Question: I really enjoyed "Indian Runner." Would you consider doing another small film like that, and how was filming in Nebraska?
Sean Penn: Yeah, I had a tremendous time shooting in Nebraska. I like that state a lot, all over it. And I only make small films, so of course I'll make small films, yeah.
Question: Valentine's Day is coming up. What do you do with your wife Robin?
Sean Penn: When is Valentine's Day? LOL!
OnlineHost: It's the 14th of February. Do you know when your anniversary is?
Sean Penn: Yes!
Question: Will you ever write a biography?
Sean Penn: Of who? No.
Question: What does Meg Ryan play? I understand she is not exactly like her character in "You've Got Mail."
Sean Penn: The cost is $7 to get the answer to that question. I enjoyed working with her very much! She's a great girl. There were a lot of funny bones in that group. I start to giggle the minute that Gary Shandling walks in a room, so I'm going to have to say Gary was the funniest.
Question: I think you are the most underappreciated actor and am always glad to see new movies by you. My question is... is there any role you would like to play that you haven't yet, and if so, what?
Sean Penn: I think that I've still not been successful at playing the role of the retired actor, and I'd like to work on that.
Question: Do you ever think about small regional theatrical productions?
Sean Penn: I don't think there are any limits, you know, I don't have any restrictions, except that I wouldn't want my answer to this question to provoke a deluge of plays being sent to my post office box.
Question: Did you enjoy working with your wife in "Hurly"?
Sean Penn: I think that in all cases when we work together it's just two actors working together. The only thing that's valuable is that you have a certain shorthand working together. She's a tremendous actor.
Question: Do you have any tips to someone that wants to be an actor?
Sean Penn: Yeah, uh buy a gun! LOL!
Question: When you made "Taps," did you ever think that cast would become as great as they have?
Sean Penn: Well I'm not going to accuse myself of being great and I'll share the flattery of the others. And so, you know, did I know that people would have lingering careers? I don't know if I invested a fantasy in that idea.
Question: "Falcon and the Snowman" rocked the house! Do you ever watch your older films and think WOW?
Sean Penn: No. I think you watch things that you've done once they're really done like that and just want to go back and r~ shoot certain things. As an actor as well, you know you can make things better.
Question: Thought of a sequel to "Colors"?
Sean Penn: No. I don't think too much about acting projects at all.
Question: I understand you shot "Thin Red Line" in a rainforest, and "Hurlyburly" was shot mostly in one room; are locations important to you?
Sean Penn: I think it was important to feel like you're in the place that the story is taking place in. Anything you can do without having to imagine it is better. It makes for less work, so that's the best I can answer that.
Question: How Irish are you? Have you ever traced your Irish roots?
Sean Penn: Well, what time of day how Irish? I think the way you answer this question is... a quarter. I'm Spanish, Russian,
Italian and Irish.
Question: Sean, what point of your career do you feel you gained credibility?
Sean Penn: LOL! Again, I'm not going to accuse myself of having credibility.
OnlineHost: Thank you for joining us!
Thank you! Bye bye.
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