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To read more about Episode 210, visit the main episode page.
Michael Moore [00:00:29] This is Rumble with Michael Moore, and I’m Michael Moore. Welcome, everyone, to today’s episode. Sean Penn, the great Sean Penn, will be joining me in just a few minutes. I’m really looking forward to this conversation with him at this time in our lives. Before we talk to Sean, just a couple of things here. First of all, as you know, we are having on Friday night of this week, September 10th, a special worldwide screening of my film from 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11. This is going to be streaming live to those who follow me here on Substack and who listen to my podcast. All of you get to watch this movie for free Friday night. It’s at 9:00 p.m. eastern time, 6:00 p.m. pacific.
Michael Moore [00:01:27] If you’re listening to this in Europe, my apologies, because it’s not going to air until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. So we’ll figure that out, because you’ve got to get it on this. I so want you to be part of this. So let me figure that out here by the time we’re done tonight, just in case a few of you are up and listening, but your friends have to go to bed. And for those of you who are in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, over in that part of the world called Asia, the movie will actually be around 11:00 in the morning, I think your time. So if you’re not at work, you’ll be able to participate. But for those of you in the United States, I’m really looking forward to showing this. I’m recording this now and this will be airing, my podcast here on Thursday. So we’re talking about tomorrow, if you’re hearing this after Friday, if you’re listening on Saturday or Sunday or whatever, just check back with me.
Michael Moore [00:02:28] But if you’re listening to this now, as we’ve just put this up here on Thursday and you’re listening on Thursday and Friday, tune in at 9:00 p.m. here on michaelmoore.com, my Substack here. It’s all free. And I’d love to have you. I’ve wanted to do it for some time, actually, to have like a movie night once a month where I will invite you, those of you who follow me here and those of you who subscribe to me on to my Substack to join me and watch a movie together. Let’s say once a month or so. And then I’ll see if I can get the director or some actors or what, depending on the kind of film to join us afterwards. Tomorrow’s film, our Friday film, I should say, Friday, the 10th, Fahrenheit 9/11, because it’s my film, I will be there.
Michael Moore [00:03:20] So I will host it and I will take questions at the end. And we’ll have a couple of surprise guests who are in the movie joining me. So that’s all tomorrow, Friday, September 10th, 9:00 p.m. eastern, 6:00 p.m. pacific. And I would love to watch this movie. I haven’t watched it in many, many years, so I’d love to watch it with you and then talk about it, because I think it’s very relevant to what we’re going through right now. So please join me for that special screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Michael Moore [00:05:42] So here we go. My guest today is Sean Penn, one of the greatest actors of our time. He’s won the Academy Award for best actor twice, once for his portrayal of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, and also playing Jimmy Markum in the Clint Eastwood film “Mystic River.” That was back in 2004. Of course, Sean has been in so many films that I and the rest of you, I’m sure, love, starting with “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and then going on to working with all the great directors, Dennis Hopper in the film “Colors.” Brian De Palma with “Casualties of War” and “Carlito’s Way.” “The Thin Red Line” with Terrence Malick. Sydney Pollack’s “The Interpreter,” and on and on and on. Sean is also a talented director, dating back to his well regarded 1992 film, “The Indian Runner,” which he dedicated to both John Cassavetes and Hal Ashby, two great directors.
Michael Moore [00:07:05] He now currently has a film out. I saw it this week. It’s called “Flag Day.” It is a film that stars Sean, but if you don’t mind me saying the main star of the film is your incredible daughter, Dylan, who gives such an amazing performance. The film is called “Flag Day,” and it’s a beautiful work of art. I don’t wanna take anything away from Sean because when we talk about the film, I want to talk also about his role in this very powerful movie. In addition to Sean’s work in film, he is also a dedicated and devoted citizen and humanitarian. He’s not the guy that shows up for the big photo op with a large check. He’s the guy that shows up to literally do the work. Get his hands dirty and take risks, fighting for others, fighting for their survival, and of course, I love him for that.
Michael Moore [00:08:12] He’s founded a non-profit group called CORE, which stands for Community Organized Relief Effort. He did that in 2010 after the devastating earthquake there in Haiti that took a couple of 100,000 lives. And we’ll talk about CORE also in this conversation. And since then, Sean and CORE show up where people are in serious, serious, desperate need. The Flint water crisis, you name it. He’s there on the Navajo Nation reservation. CORE has distributed now across this country 1.7 million vaccines since January and February. It’s amazing work. I’m really happy to have him as part of our launch month here with our Substack. And Sean, I’m just really happy, I’d like to welcome you to Rumble. My friend Sean Penn.
Sean Penn [00:09:49] Thank you, Michael. Great to be here.
Michael Moore You and I were communicating earlier this week and just kind of trying to talk about the level of madness that’s going on these days and what we’re up against. I mean, share with me and the people listening how you sort of describe and define the moment we’re in just right from your own heart. I would love to hear how you would put everything that’s going on right now into some sort of crazy context.
Sean Penn [00:19:29] I would say is that these institutions that we have so relied on, throughout our lifetimes and certainly a couple of 100 years before that, our extraordinary institutions of aspiration, that they have not followed through on behalf of all Americans yet, is something we have to understand clearly. That doesn’t diminish the aspiration of them. Where I feel we are now is I wake up and I wonder, is it time to pack the court? Is it time to risk an institution before all the institutions crumble? Because I think there are fissures in all of them now, especially as reflected by January 6th, by the incredible division, the identity politics, the culture war politics, the kind of general madness that I describe as radical libertarianism that has completely forgotten that this aspiration that created these institution is one that was cured with independence, that is interdependently based – even to have an election are we interdependent to get out there and vote. All sides, all parties. To make this thing work. And so now we look, for example, at what’s happening.
Sean Penn [00:21:08] We, this country, for all intents and purposes, could have been largely out of this pandemic by now. Yes, it would have been dealing with distributing vaccines to the world. We would have had some pockets of cases. But this kind of general madness and this big kind of lie that is the constant normalization of deceit is, I mean, al-Qaeda means the base. Right? And we keep hearing about the base here. The parallels go on. And now you’ve got these white nationalist groups aligning themselves or celebrating the Taliban. Where have we come in the 20 years since 9/11? And I do wonder if it shouldn’t be a kind of Hail Mary pass, pack the court, fix this situation for women, this abortion stuff, which is Roe v. Wade stuff that’s going on and on and the election suppression…
Michael Moore [00:22:24] First of all, I don’t think of it as packing the court because, first of all, our Supreme Court has had numerous people that made up the court in all these years. And the number 9 maybe has been that way for maybe 100 years at this point.
Michael Moore [00:23:17] I wish Democrats would push for this. I think that it’s a good thing to do. I’m not talking about doubling it, but, you know, add 4. Add four members to the court. So here’s the thing I can’t stand about this, Sean. And the abortion thing in Texas really brought this to the forefront, we have gender apartheid in this country. The majority gender doesn’t have the say, the majority gender is being told by a majority of men, two thirds of the court are men. 75 percent of Congress are men, and they’re being told by men that we’re going to decide what you can do with your reproductive organs at that point. You have to say, ok, hang on, all bets are off, folks, because that’s just wrong.
Sean Penn [00:24:14] And as you said, you wouldn’t call it packing the court. I wouldn’t call people who don’t support women making their own choice men.
Michael Moore [00:24:24] Yes, well, yes, and men have a role in this, that if we don’t speak out, if we don’t stop this, if we don’t fix this, then, shame on us. Nobody tells you or I what we can do with our lives, you and I are not in a “Handmaid’s Tale” situation, where we are forced to make women pregnant, the forced birth that is now upon women in Texas. You are forced to give birth. You are birth slaves. We will decide, you will not decide. This is so mind boggling, Sean. The inhumanity of it. And the rage, I would hope that we all feel over this.
Sean Penn [00:25:38] People like to in politics and on the street say, you know, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, but that’s not really the history. When we don’t prioritize, we get stuck in all of the various kind of culture wars and cannibalism on each other. There isn’t time to focus clearly on these existential issues for women in Texas. One thing that just because we’re talking about it, yeah, there was a direct connection and in all of the major studies that were reported at the time – the generation that followed Roe v. Wade, and what happened was that crime went significantly down. Because we had a greater population of wanted children and a lesser population of unwanted children.
Sean Penn [00:26:38] So one takes these positions without looking at the result on the other end of the floor, that we are just so involved in our own righteous positions that we’re not looking at 10 steps ahead to how those are really going to affect our children’s lives. You know, we talk about education a lot. We don’t talk enough about service, and I think that one of the things I missed as a young man coming out of high school was a demand for my service, mandatory service. And I feel that if, you know, in the same way that when the Me Too movement happened, one kind of felt that, look, the place to go on this is 8 year old boys in school. Get in early. And everybody can argue for the next decade and a half and eat each other alive or justifiably take each other to court or prosecute cases and all of that stuff. But if it’s me, I’m just thinking how do we actually change this, the way that we relate to each other. That’s not going to be you and me.
Sean Penn [00:28:00] That’s going to be what we might be able to share with young children developing that as a culture. And I think that when people engage in service at a young age that never leaves their DNA. They become important because they make it that they are able to make change, that they are able to better the life, whether that service is in the military or that service is with the elderly or forestry or any number of things that are facing us today. You know, you have young people in this country, take a year or two to devote themselves to those things that will never leave them. And they are no longer impotent. And it’s the impotent that are always looking to just break things up for the sake of breaking them up or they’re passive. And we need potency and not impotency if we’re going to drive this thing forward.
Michael Moore [00:29:00] Well, I think that’s actually an incredible idea. And, you know, I’ve heard people talk about this over the years, but it never kind of comes to fruition. But if we made this a value of our society and when you become an adult at 18, you don’t necessarily have to be drafted to go to the military, but all those things you mention, all the work that could be done with climate and the environment, the water situation isn’t just in Flint, it’s so many places, the the income inequality, all of the stuff. I think this is a great idea and frankly you said something a few minutes before about you’re not a man, if you’re trying to dictate to women, if you’re trying to tell women what they can or can’t do. Then whatever you are, that isn’t what should define what a man is. And the rest of us men are repulsed by a governor who yesterday, when he signed that bill in Texas and a reporter said, what about women who are raped, this law says they can’t have an abortion? Incest, they can’t have an abortion. Medical issue. And he said, well, solution of that is I’ll just get rid of rape. He actually said that.
Michael Moore [00:30:25] But I think you brought up this idea of service that I think all of us should be doing regardless of our age. But can I talk to you about what you started here in this last decade with CORE, because it’s, I think, such a powerful thing. And, you know, when Katrina happened, we were working on our next film, and I shut it down there the day of Katrina. And I said, we need to get down there and we need to help. And I’m going to put, I’m going to go on my website, I’m going to my social media followers, there weren’t that many back then. But I asked people to donate money and we had, I think, about 2 million dollars to my website and we had, I don’t know, half a dozen to a dozen semi trucks that we packed with everything that people needed in Louisiana, in New Orleans. So everybody went down there and we created our own little camp and in trying to help out. And then one day, there’s the guy in the boat. It was you. You were there, I remember correctly, you were kind of pulling this rowboat and you were literally pulling people out of the water, out of the places where they were in siege. And there you were doing that.
Sean Penn [00:31:52] Well, you know what? Here’s an interesting thing about this, and it applies today, and I think it’s important for people to know and you’ve seen this and so many of the people that have worked in those circumstances today, friends and neighbors from within the communities or those of us that come in and try to reach out from outside. These natural disaster situations, this goes back to the service thing, because there will never be enough government to take care of these things on their own and I think that, you know, organizations, NGOs and governmental organizations really should be making a greater effort, as the citizens should be, to meet them halfway on the information campaigns that give you the basic clarity.
Sean Penn [00:32:47] We give Americans the basic clarity of what government can do and what they can’t do. One of the things that so surprised me during Katrina. I had put off going for a couple of days after the hurricane had hit because I’m watching the news that I thought I’d get in the way of governmental organizations and then you get there and you see the people and governmental organizations are handing you a baton so that they can get back. They need all hands on deck that they can get not chaos, but responsible hands who are thinking, how can I be actually productive in this situation? And that one, it was pretty easy. There were people out there on the water. Get a boat, go out, pick people up. There’s so many ways, I mean, the government’s never going to get all the water, all the fuel, all the all these things we’ve got. And I wish that there’d be more admission of that. I saw Jen Psaki, who I think is a very talented spokesperson for the president, the other day saying that they were sending everything that California needed to fight the wildfires. Not only are they not sending that, they can’t send it. They don’t have it because we aren’t, we haven’t spent the time as a culture, as a society in preparation for these things. And if we don’t do it now, we’re really ripping off our kids and their kids.
Michael Moore [00:34:14] So with Haiti, when that happens, and you head down there to help. And out of this, I think, is this where CORE began? Explain to people what CORE is. And I listed a number of things in the introduction of what you’ve been doing in these 11 years.
Sean Penn [00:34:34] So CORE was what we morphed into when we had the J/P Haitian Relief Organization starting in 2010 in Haiti. The way that built is because I had seen this thing I just described in Katrina, where you’re not going to be in the way. And we had a little bit of disaster response experience that couple of us from the Katrina trip. We said, let’s go. And we landed into a situation. I’d never been to Haiti before. That was so chaotic. And again, where, we had 22,000 U.S. troops there on a humanitarian mission and they were at the time, the UN peacekeepers, as well as the Haitian national police and others. And all the NGOs and the UN and none of it was enough to get the job done that needed to be done to spare people further death and anguish. And what happened is just by getting in the trenches with young Haitians, they started coming to us and saying, you look like you’re here to help our country. We want to help you do that. And so they were able to guide us into what is this CORE – community organized relief effort.
Sean Penn [00:35:56] Because we found people who have leadership qualities, who knew the country, knew the community and were able to give us architecture to what we we’re doing. Now, the us is an entirely Haitian organization in Haiti, its offshoot into us. When we transitioned from it being just Haiti and to going to other parts of the Caribbean and ultimately throughout the United States and some other country. We had an idea about doing advanced training. We had an idea that was also in part based on building trust between police and marginalized communities that had no trust in the police because we knew we could get police officers of goodwill, which there are many, many, many who could create relationships of trust with young people in these populations that were otherwise wildly mistrusting and could do it collaboratively to work against climate issues. So that hurricane flood, all of these things that we’re increasingly facing that region. So we went to Savannah, Georgia, and we did a pilot.
Sean Penn [00:37:18] And we had found a wound down there who had her own grassroots organization, so we didn’t reinvent the wheel there. We went and we resourced her and them and offered the CERT training. But there was a deal we were going to make, which is if you were over 18, if you were 18 or up in that training, because we would train from 14. But if you were 18 and up and had taken that training, if a hurricane or whatever event did not hit you, but was within 250 miles of you, you would deploy. 2 months later, Hurricane Matthew hit and we were down in North Carolina and in came 40 of those CERT train kids on a bus that they had, that they had gotten together and came in and started doing muck outs, which it doesn’t sound very sexy, but if you’re down there in your house, each hour is another chance for terrible mold to grow and make your house uninhabitable after it’s been flooded and you get these young teams of kids down there going through those muck outs was extraordinary.
Sean Penn [00:38:33] So that’s what CORE is. We go into these areas. Same thing happened with COVID with the testing and later the vaccination implementations. We started with the Los Angeles Fire Department out here. We’re able to relieve them of the burden that they had in doing the testing sites by bringing in young people from the community, training them and paying them. And we very quickly got out of the volunteer, the volunteer business at large in Haiti, because we had a lot of volunteers from the United States and we had all these young people in Haiti, who it was better to pay them to do it than it was to just keep having volunteers come and put bandaids on things. So CORE is that, CORE goes in and organizes when it comes down to it. We’ve got logistics people, we’ve got great mentors that go in, and then they build themselves in the CORE. We give them the t-shirt and say thank you and keep resourcing.
Michael Moore [00:39:35] And if people who are listening to this want to help you with this non-profit disaster relief organization, how can they do that? And I’ll put it on my podcast page here so that people can click on a link later.
Michael Moore [00:39:51] Yeah, I think our website is pretty good and gives you a real picture of what we did on this latest earthquake in Haiti. We deployed out of Port-au-Prince. We had heavy equipment deployed on the day of the earthquake. We got it up into the southwest. We’re real good at surging things like this. But if they can go to coreresponse.org.
Michael Moore [00:40:17] So coreresponse, all one word, coreresponse, one word, coreresponse.org. And then they can contribute whatever amount they can.
Sean Penn [00:40:31] Five dollars goes a long way when it happens a lot of times.
Michael Moore [00:40:35] Well I will go on and I will give more than five dollars. But anybody listening to this. A buck, two bucks, five bucks, ten bucks, whatever. You know, I’ve seen the work that Sean has done. There was a documentary made about this called Citizen Penn, about all the things that he, you know, he gets embarrassed about and doesn’t look for nothing out of this for himself, other than to act in a humble and humble way to help others and try. And I’m just, it’s so amazing.
Michael Moore [00:41:09] Can we just pivot, though, while we’re on this idea of disaster to Covid? Because, all right, just listening to the news tonight, unbelievable that there are 4x today more cases than there were on this day last September, that there are now 1 out of every 4 cases are children under the age of 12. This is really bad. And I’ve had scientists and doctors on my podcast here. And they have been very blunt about this is now going to be a 3 to 4 year pandemic because we’ve got so many unvaccinated people. And I think the way Fauci put this, that this is a now a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And all tonight they are on the news, the nurses in the hospital crying, thinking everybody in here is unvaccinated and they’re all dying and they’ve all given it to other people. And this is so a month or 2 ago on the news, there you are. You are in the middle of shooting a series, I believe it’s based on Watergate.
Michael Moore Tell us exactly what happened on that set? Because it sent good reverberations across the country.
Sean Penn [00:43:11] What happened is pretty simple. We had been shooting for a few weeks and had about 9 shooting days to go to complete the work. And a lot of money. An effort was being spent on what I consider to be cosmetic protocols, except as it related to what they call zone one, meaning those who come in contact with the actors, because if the actors get sick, you’re shut down, right? So other people they find replaceable. And I don’t mean, they the producers, but what this machine becomes. And at a certain point, as the Delta variant became more prominent, it occurred to me that I was complicit in something that made no sense at all, that in fact we had all become so…and so kind of wanting to get out of the fatigue of having to deal with these f-ing masks and all this, that if as long as the cosmetics were there, we were all happy soldiers.
Sean Penn [00:44:39] And I thought, this is not ok and there’s no reason why everybody here shouldn’t be vaccinated, right? Right to refuse service and right to not hire you, if you’re not going to do…or the right for schools to mandate it. And so I just went to the producers and I said, look, I can’t be complicit in this anymore because there are stagehands who want the person next to them vaccinated as much as the actors have, the people next to them vaccinated. And the problem was not with my producers who were very supportive or my fellow castmates who were very supportive of my decision to walk off until this was resolved. And what the problem was, was some weak leadership in some key unions. But we’re giving in to the fringes within their own organizations and this kind of again, the way the culture war gets into it, and we’re not able to talk freely and openly and directly and count on science and scientists. And so I just stepped out and I’ll go back to work with an entirely vaccinated crew on the last day of this month.
Michael Moore [00:46:01] Wow. So you succeeded in basically that..
Sean Penn [00:46:06] Well, it was a small battle won, because the way, what this means and I do want to come back to something about the vaccines themselves that I don’t hear enough of, I think my understanding of what’s been worked out with those unions or one particular union that I think has a lot of red hats in it, is we will carry all your union members to the till we’re done with everything we can do without Sean. And then you’re going to let us change them out with your union members who did get vaccinated, and then we’ll be good and we’ll finish out this production. But that’s all this achieves. The thing I didn’t want to forget to say, and I’m sure your audience needs to hear this the least, but maybe they’ll find it important to share with others is: a lot of people still are concerned and I’m not, so now I’m not talking about radical libertarianism, I’m not talking about the political side of all of this.
Sean Penn But there are still a lot of very good people, who are concerned that these vaccines came about too quickly? And it’s not being said enough that these have been in the works for 2 decades, this mRNA, a technology is so docile that it’s able to, they were able within days of identifying the virus. You basically come up with a vaccine, everything after that was tested, so there was actually almost a year of testing of something that they knew how to do within days. So these are the safest vaccines we’ve ever had and the amount of research and development that had gone on before this novel virus was extraordinary, and so people should feel very comfortable and safe taking these vaccines.
Michael Moore [00:48:17] I was talking to a family member yesterday and I told this individual the story you just told, that they started working on this mRNA vaccine back around 2003 when the SARS epidemic began. And this is like you said, it’s almost 20 years of research. And coming up with this and this is not some new thing. And also I’ve told people this week who said they heard it for the first time from me and I’m going, oh, no, I’m not the place you should get your news. But people think that this, the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, that they’re injecting a piece of Covid into people’s arms. That’s not true. That’s not what mRNA is. Just look it up, Google it. Whatever. It will explain to you how this works that…
Sean Penn [00:49:16] Google is dependent on the algorithm that you’ve built for yourself.
Michael Moore [00:49:21] Ok, where can I send people to read this?
Sean Penn [00:49:25] Well, one thing they can do is they can go back to President Trump when he said, we have really smart people. He was right. We have really smart people. And he trusted them at that time, even if he wasn’t being forthcoming about what was really potentially coming with this virus. And he trusts them still, which is why he was vaccinated. And let’s just remember where we were before we drank the Kool-Aid. There was a certain level of understanding of where basic truths are and people I feel, yes, it’s terrible, and it’s easy to get angry about how people will infect others, but all of these people, who are ending up in the hospital now because they took these positions and now thank God, I wish I’d taken that vaccine.
Michael Moore [00:50:20] Mm hmm. Yes. Many of them have said that on camera from their deathbed in the hospital.
Sean Penn [00:50:28] Yeah, let’s get this thing over with, because I’m just tired of it as anybody.
Michael Moore [00:50:33] Right? None of us want to be wearing these masks. None of us. We want to go back to our lives. We actually want to make our lives better from what we’ve learned about our society and how to treat each other and, you know, I’ve seen so many acts of kindness during this pandemic, I think actually, we’ll be a better people on the other end of this. But let’s get to the other end of this. And for the people who are afraid, I mean, if I could come there and hold your hand, I would do it. I, you know, I was worried. I thought well, before I knew this mRNA that, oh wait a minute, MNRA, that’s the mantra of the macho National Rifle Association.
Sean Penn [00:51:20] Ribonucleic acid.
Sean Penn [00:51:22] Sean, I think you put it best. I mean, just come on, people.
Michael Moore [00:51:25] Right.
Sean Penn [00:51:26] Let’s let’s stop being silly.
Michael Moore [00:51:28] Let’s stop being silly. How do you feel about the job President Biden has been doing so far in his first 8 months? And I ask you that again as a citizen, not as a political, you know, Democrat – Republican thing, but just, you know, I’m just curious.
Sean Penn [00:51:45] I start with, you know, when Obama inherited the financial debacle, well, then that’s tough. But what Biden inherited in terms of the divisiveness and all of the sectors and subjects under which the divisiveness can be defined. We’re in a more dangerous time than I remember us to have been in when we had 2,000 bombings a year in the early 70s. I think that there are more than 2,000 hot zones of all kinds of others that are of risk right now and when the temperament of Biden came into the White House, I was as thrilled as one could be under the circumstances. I also thought that he was acknowledging the seriousness of the climate issue more quickly than most had expected he would and more radically.
Sean Penn [00:52:54] Now, before I go into my feelings about the last couple of weeks, also say that his task force was a breath of fresh air on COVID. In their initial outing on it, clarifying things finally for people. Getting some guidelines. Communicating. The trip up is that, I don’t know, when it comes to and now I’m just to bring it to politics for a moment. On what we get too used to calling the left, the aspiration again, the aspirations of the far-left, if anyone listens to them, really listens to them without politics or labels being in the way, those are aspirations everyone wants. Strategically, a president today, politically, the media, I don’t know if it’s always a value for the left to have those, far-left to have those conversations with us until they settle on common language with the president.
Sean Penn [00:54:19] We just, I think, we get so hung up on winning the wars today in front of them, this is going to be a long game. And what I think about President Biden is that when I agree with him and when I don’t that at his core is a long game. Big mistakes can be made within that, especially in today’s explosive world. I saw an extraordinary documentary on how we got here and how we got to Kabul called “The Turning Point.” That really clarifies a lot, and the main thing it clarifies is that there was never any clarification. And so for a president of the United States to get caught by the short hairs. I am not really that quick to judge it this fast. We know there’s a lot to focus on in terms of Americans and others that still need to be brought out of that country. But I will say this, that in the long game with all of the mess of that and all of those horrible images we all saw, we have a president who stopped the 20 year war. That’s big. And nobody had the balls to do it before, and he knows how much money we spent and how many lives we lost, and he knows the backlash without Kabul. What happened?
Sean Penn [00:56:03] So what I think is that I’m hopeful for tomorrow and that he keeps tacking onto the course and that we help him tack there. And sometimes that’s holding the feet to the fire. But I don’t think we should do that recklessly or grandstanding.
Michael Moore [00:56:23] Right. Well, I certainly agree with that. And people know who’ve been listening to me here as someone who was out there campaigning with Bernie, and I didn’t vote for Biden in the Michigan primary, I have been so overwhelmed with emotion in terms of what I have seen him do on so many levels, some of the smallest things that didn’t get any coverage because of all the other horrific things going on that he like. I don’t know, like a few weeks ago he eliminated all student debt for any disabled American who holds college debt. Gone. I didn’t read. I didn’t hear it. I didn’t see it. I ran across it. I went and checked it. I said, I cannot believe, how come I don’t know this? What else has this guy done in these 8 months?
Michael Moore [00:57:19] Because he’s been, he’s had to deal with Covid and climate and a very large number of people that would like to overturn democracy. “Turning point,” I saw it the other night, all 4 episodes of it or whatever on Netflix. I’ll put a link for people listening to this. Watch this documentary. It’s brand new. And boy, they really pulled it. They really pulled it together. So, Sean, just before we go, thank you for these suggestions and ideas, and I know I didn’t I don’t want to put you on the spot because, you know, you’re the last person that where you want millions of people to come to the altar of Sean Penn for to be our guru and give us advice or whatever, your actions say it all. You don’t really have to say anything. I get it. Millions of people get it. And I think that over the years. Now, and I’ve known you now for probably close to 20 and various times we’ve been together and done things. If I can find the photo from New Year’s Eve back and…
Sean Penn [00:58:38] I’ve got it on my wall.
Michael Moore [00:58:41] Yeah, I don’t know where my copy is.
Sean Penn [00:58:43] I can send you a copy,
Michael Moore [00:58:46] You know what I’m going to say. So New Year’s Eve is 2013, maybe 2014. I don’t know. But so we are all together, you and me, Eddie Vedder, Bill Maher. And we had this photo of us essentially replicating a famous photo of the 4 Marx Brothers. I won’t say anything more than that. I’ll look for the photo. I’ll post it on my site and you’ll see what we’re talking about. But, Sean, this is the thing. I mean, you know, you’re known as a badass, tough guy. You know, you don’t take any shit, you don’t suffer fools. These are all compliments, by the way. But I know you and a lot of people know you as a real sweetheart. You are that person that I would want my kids to emulate – the way that you you act, you don’t get caught up in all the chin music, all the bullshit, the political, the back and forth and what little label you are and whatever, you just go and fucking do it. And let me just close by saying, this film of yours that I watched this week, “Flag Day,” and I know your daughter, Dylan’s getting rave reviews and your son has a role in it, too, Hopper, but Sean, in addition to the beautiful direction of this film and I didn’t catch who the cinematographer was, but beautiful..
Sean Penn [01:00:17] Danny Moder. Yeah, he’s an artist.
Michael Moore [01:00:20] And yeah this is a work of art and your performance. I mean, I know you, how for you to, I’m sitting there and 20 minutes into it, I’m not thinking it’s you. I’m with this character, this very powerful father who probably always meant well as his wife said, he was a Peter Pan of sorts, but just a failed Peter Pan. But I teared up a number of times during this film. And I thought about all the people out there who had well-meaning parents. But they have their own difficulties on their own issues and they did their best, they love their kids. And you know, I hear from people around Father’s Day, everybody, my father this, my dad this. And it’s like, yeah, well, there are millions who didn’t have that experience and who had a very rough time. You portrayed this with this dad who’s a mess, a real hot mess of a guy.
Michael Moore [01:01:27] It’s based on a book called “The Flim-Flam Man,” maybe a lot of you read it by Jennifer Vogel, but you played him with such humanity and love. And no matter how much crap he made up or whatever every moment with his daughter, you knew that deep in his soul, he had this love for his kids but couldn’t actualize it to the extent where he could do good by them. And yet it’s Sean. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I just saw it this week. This is one of the best things you’ve done on film as an actor, not the director part, but as an actor.
Sean Penn [01:02:12] I had a piece of magic to work off of in Dylan Penn. And she really comes in with no contrivance and so much, such a natural force. When I was listening to talk about the film and thank you for all those words about the film, I was thinking for all us flawed parents out there, you know, that we’ll keep making mistakes. There’s one gigantic thing you can do for your kids: go get the f-ing shot.
Michael Moore [01:02:43] Go get the f-ing shot.
Sean Penn [01:02:44] You know, if you feel good about nothing else about how you raised your kids, do that because your kids want you and they need the example.
Sean Penn [01:02:53] Hey, any of you listening out there who if you haven’t gotten the shot yet and you decide after this episode, dammit, I’m going to go get that shot. Go go get the first one, then go get the second. But just get that shot. Snap a selfie of you doing it. Send it to me here on the podcast. MichaelMoore.com. And we’ll have our little honor of photographs, of I did this for Sean Penn. And if you don’t mind, Sean, but just hopefully if you got, if you just convinced a dozen people to do it, then we’re that much better off.
Michael Moore You and I have crossed paths so many times in the last 20 years, really, it seems and I’m always inspired by you. So many, I mean, there’s so many stories I could tell, but I think just before we get into discussing what’s going on in the world and what the rest of us need to be doing right now, I want to share with my listeners the, it was it was the day, I think the day before the Oscars in 2003. And Bowling for Columbine was up for best documentary. And I got a call. I think the call came from Tim Robbins. And he said, why don’t you, you probably are nervous about the Oscars? You know, they were going to not have them, then have them because it was the Iraq War, it started just a couple of days before that. And there was a lot of feeling like maybe we shouldn’t be doing this right now. But nonetheless, they decided to have them. Then they weren’t going to have the documentary category televised. Suffice it to say, there was some concern of what might happen. So I get a call from Tim Robbins and he says, hey, I’m just having Sean Penn come over for lunch here in our hotel suite. If you want to come over and just talk about anything or just…I said no, I’d love that. He says, yeah. And if you have a speech ready, well, I know I’ve got something, but…well, you know, give us the speech. We’ll give you some feedback. You know, that sounded great.
Michael Moore So I go over to the hotel in West Hollywood. I walk into the room. Not only is Sean there and Tim Robbins. Susan Sarandon is there. Don Cheadle is there. Eddie Vedder is there. Gore Vidal is there. There were other Sean and I can’t remember everybody around that big dining room table, but it was such a kind and caring thing to do for someone who was going to be attending his first Oscar ceremony and might be up for a reaction in case I won. And so I told you guys what I was going to say. And then you each, and then I said to you, hey, if you were in my shoes, what’s the speech you would give? Do you remember this? And then you went around the table and each had a very unique idea of what I could say should I win this. Do you remember this whole incident?
Sean Penn Very well.
Michael Moore Now, do you remember what you suggested that I do?
Sean Penn I do.
Sean Penn Well, with the exception of the people in that room that day, among our direct and indirect colleagues in the film business, there were very few who were standing up to say anything about that war and most in private believed the weapons of mass destruction lies that had been told by the Bush administration. And so my thought was for a time in perpetuity, with 300 million viewers watching to just ask the audience to first say I’m grateful, thank you for the acknowledgment of your wonderful film on Columbine and then to say just this time, could we have everyone in the audience who doesn’t stand behind this war, stand up. And then we would have had a photograph of just how liberal Hollywood is when it gets scared to death.
Michael Moore I remember this. I remember thinking when you said that I went, oh, no, this will be the end of me. But it was a great idea. So as people have seen or remember, if they do, if they’re old enough to remember, they announced that Bowling for Columbine was the winner. Went up on the stage. I had asked the other documentary filmmakers who are nominated to please join me if they’d like to on the stage, because I was going to say something and they all came up with me, all the other nominees.
Michael Moore I don’t think that had ever happened before at the Oscars. And then I just said, you know, we make nonfiction films, but we live in these fictitious times with a fictitious president. And as soon as I went there, boy, the boos started. I thought I should have stuck with Sean’s idea. Just let them stand. They’d have to boo each other for just sitting in their seats that way. But no, so, they start. The boos just got louder. There was a lot of applause. And I’ve watched the tape since then. Scorsese applauded and Meryl Streep and there was nice support, but up in the balconies, where all the tickets go to the sponsors of the Oscar ceremony, that whole thing up there was pandemonium and then they lowered the microphone, they struck up the band, and that was the end of me. And Sean, I went back afterwards and we went to the Governor’s ball afterwards. I was shunned by everybody. And an hour later, back at the hotel room, first call I got was from you, because you were, I think, on your bike, on your motorcycle, heading back to the Bay Area.
Sean Penn Yeah, yeah, my son and I were on a motorcycle trip.
Michael Moore Ok, there we go. And you said to me, is there anything I can do for you? I mean, we’ll turn these bikes around right now and come back if you need help or support. And it was the kind of call that could have come in. And I was obviously was pretty rattled. And that night on all the TV stations, people out east don’t know this, but because the Oscars are over out west by 8 o’clock their time. So they have all these like Super Bowl shows, like post-Oscar shows on every channel. And I just kept flipping the dial and every commentator, every critic was saying, well, that’s the end of Michael Moore. I don’t know why, why did he do that? Why did he do that? It’s the 5th night of the war…
Sean Penn I think it’s a badge of honor to win one when you do work that’s as deserving of it as Columbine. And it’s an equal badge of honor to be booed there. When you’re making too many people happy, you’re doing something wrong.
Michael Moore Well, thank you. You said that to me that night and you just said it again. And I so appreciate it. Took me quite a while, though, after that, because a few days later, the studio that was going to do my next film, ripped up the contract, even though it was all signed and they’d even sent the first check and they said, we don’t want anything to do with him. Or this next film that was called, was going to be called Fahrenheit 9/11. So we instantly were all out of work. We didn’t know what to do. It was an awful month. And I got back home and had the Oscar. I put it in the suitcase, wrapped it up with some laundry, and we got home and got to the airport. And that slip that the TSA puts in that says, we’ve checked your luggage. It was a slip in there and there was the Oscar completely keyed, all scratched up, like destroyed, and that was the beginning of a very difficult year, where I had to have a lot of security and whatever.
Michael Moore But somebody stepped forward with the money to make Fahrenheit 9/11. And we just went to work. And we, in the next 10 months, we made that movie. So, again, I just wanted to thank you for your support during that difficult and kind of dangerous moment, where people were wanting to harm me in various ways. So thank you for that.
Sean Penn Easily done with somebody who’s been such a leader, you, in citizen informing citizen activity and all the important documentaries that you did then. And continue to do.
Michael Moore It means a lot.
Sean Penn [01:03:35] Thank you. All right, Sean, bless you.
Sean Penn [01:03:41] And keep doing what you’re doing. And please always feel free to call on me to help in any way. And the people listening because we’re with you and we love you. And as I said, we’re a better world because you’re in it. So thank you very much.
Sean Penn [01:03:57] Thank you, man.
Michael Moore [01:03:58] All right, everybody. Sean Penn.
Michael Moore [01:04:14] That was really a great conversation with Sean and we’ll have him back because there’s so many things we didn’t get to cover. I wanted to ask him about his father, the great Leo Penn, who was an actor and director back in the 50s and 60s and 70s. And he was one of the brave, brave people in Hollywood who, when called to testify in front of the witch hunt hearings in Congress, he would not name names when they asked him who was a communist and who wasn’t or whatever. He just refused to participate in something so un-democratic, so un-American. And he was blacklisted for many years, was not allowed to act, just could not get work. And I didn’t have a chance to ask Sean about that, what that was like for him and for his family growing up. But next time, we’ll do that next time.
Michael Moore [01:05:05] And my thanks again to Sean for being on Rumble. So on Rumble here, I’ve been asking you, the listeners, to leave me a voicemail because there’s a link right here on my podcast platform page wherever you’re listening to this. There’s a link that if you want to leave me a 1 minute voicemail, leave it, I’ll listen to it. I won’t be able to respond, but I will, I promise you, I will listen and I’ll pick some of my favorites. I can’t put them all on here. I don’t have enough time. But it is time on this episode to bring you once again the people who listen to Rumble and what’s on their mind for 60 seconds each. So first of all, thank you to everybody who’s been leaving me a voicemail. Please do that. I do listen to every single one of them. You do it right here, right through the Anchor app. And up next, we’re going to turn this segment over to you, the listeners, and hear some of your voices. Again, don’t forget, all of you have the ability to leave me a 60 second voicemail. I want you to do this. The link is right here on the description page of this episode. We’re going to play these incredible voicemails.
Michael Moore [01:07:03] Ok, so as I promised everybody, let’s turn this episode over to the wonderful people who have been leaving a voicemail on my podcast platforms. I love listening to these. Remember, all you gotta’ do is click the anchor link in the description page for this podcast and leave me a voicemail. And here are some of my favorites from the last month or so.
Barbara Kalb, listener [01:09:07] Wahoo, the war is over. Why do I feel like I’m celebrating by myself? Surely, I do not see it on the media. Why don’t you do a little celebration dance with us all? Thank you.
Tara Hoffman, listener [01:09:19] Hi, Michael, Tara Hoffman, here from Portland, Oregon, first I just listened to Chris Hedges and your podcast and just loved it. It’s just such a good reminder of just what matters and what we’re working against. You know, I had a moment when I was 11, I had this amazing American Indian teacher who showed us “I Will Fight No More Forever” in the classroom. And it was my first realization of what was going on in the US. And I’ve never looked back since. And I’m totally fighting for justice and peace for everyone. And I think I’m always reminded how there are more of us than there are of them, the people that want to oppress and take away people’s rights. So thank you so much for always having amazing guests, always having your heart in the right place and just really appreciate you. You’re a light in the world. Thanks so much.
Lorna Paris, listener [01:10:13] Michael, thank you for doing this. So nice to see someone else that is seeing the exact same stuff that I have been seeing all these years. And I’m so glad you’re supporting the president because he needs the support. Second, he sent troops to pull guys out. I said I left a message on his voicemail saying, thank you for doing this. We need this. And I’m thrilled to be hearing the same thing. I keep sharing everything with a few different groups because this is all very important stuff. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Lisa Adamson, listener [01:11:03] Hi, Michael, this is Lisa Adamson in Lake George, New York. I’m a follower of your podcasts ever since you started a year and a half ago, I think you’re in the position of being a real leader and of being able to mobilize people into important actions, as you did in your recent podcast on guiding people through how to contact their congresspeople in relation to signing the ERA. One thing that’s really critical right now is support of the Reconciliation Bill and getting the word to our legislators that there can be a no tolerance policy for continuing to use subsidize fossil fuels or for fossil fuel infrastructure. Please find a way to guide people to make very, very pointed contact with the president and especially with John Kerry in relation to the Cop 26. Thank you.
Arthur, listener [01:12:04] Hi – laugh at me. I nearly sent you 45 seconds of silence. This is Arthur from Vancouver again. Once again, just really appreciate what you’re doing, Michael. This last interview, Sublime Madness, I love it. This guy’s been encouraging you since you were a teen. And quoted Daniel Berrigan off the cuff. That’s Brilliant. I don’t know enough about him. This thing about faith involving belief that good attracts good. That’s something we need. I think somewhere there is where the hope is, not the hopium, but the real kind of hope. And I guess I just want to say thanks once again for scraping little bits of light off your…and blowing them our way. Isn’t that what friends are for? Take care, man. Bye. Don’t get flooded now.
Bernard E. Scoville, listener [01:12:53] Hi Michael. This is Bernard Scoville in Sacramento. Boy, I really like listening to Christopher Hedges. Wow, that’s great. No, I’m not optimistic. This country got very bad habits and a very determined CIA and a Pentagon. But, you know, I’m looking forward to seeing 9/11 again, Fahrenheit 9/11. And I’m going to try to get as many people as I can to watch that with me. So thank you, Michael, for what you do. Thank you very much. And I’ll see you soon. Bye bye.
Michael Moore [01:13:33] Wow. Thank you, all of you, for those wonderful messages. It’s much appreciated. And again, I listen to all of them, so people, please leave me one. I love them. It’s a great way to actually, at the end of the day, just before I go to bed, I listen to these and they’re just wonderful. Don’t forget Friday, September 10th, 9:00 p.m. eastern, a free worldwide screening of Fahrenheit 9/11, my 2004 film, that is still the largest-grossing documentary of all time. It won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. And it pissed off a lot of people in the Bush administration who did some dastardly things to try and stop people from seeing this film. But it did not succeed. They did not succeed. And millions upon millions around the world saw this movie. And with the war in Afghanistan now being lost and over and a lot of people wondering who we are now and what we do, this film, man, I’m going to be watching it with you.
Michael Moore [01:14:40] It’s a powerful, powerful thing, and I hope you join me. So if you’re listening to this on Thursday or Friday, it’s Friday night, September 10th, 9:00 p.m., michaelmoore.com. Just go to michaelmoore.com. If you’re a Substack subscriber, you know how to go onto my Substack with you. If you’re a podcast listener, all you gotta’ do is go to michaelmoore.com tomorrow night and I will host it. I will do a Q&A with you afterwards and I will have some special guests from the film. So I look forward to doing that. And it’s how I want to spend the night before the 20th anniversary of this tragedy by having this moment with you so that we can all think about what are the lessons we’ve learned. Have we learned any lessons?
Michael Moore [01:15:30] Tell your friends and neighbors and family and whatever to tune in. It’s free. It’s completely free. Tomorrow night. Friday night. Michaelmoore.com. Much appreciated. Looking forward to talking to you here in the next coming hours online with my free screening. Thank you, everybody, for joining me. Thank you again, Sean Penn. Thank you to all the underwriters. My thanks to our executive producer, Basel Hamdan, our sound engineer and editor Nick Kwas, who was also assisted today by the great Donald Bernstein. My thanks to Harrison Malkin, who did a lot of the research and helped us with this episode, and to Sean Penn’s people there that work with him that set everything up on his end in L.A. for us today. So thanks to all of you. And we will hopefully see you at 9:00 p.m. eastern, September 10th, Friday night. That’s tomorrow or it’s tonight, depending on when you’re listening to this. And we’ll be able to have a good talk live after the film about where we go now after these last 20 years. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s very important. Be well, everyone. Talk to you then. It’s very, very important.