He"s a line homework from Cutters way, a movie from 1981 starring Jeff Bridges and John heard in which a woman kills herself to get away from her alcoholic husband, and the final line of which is: you know, the routine grind drives. Tragedy, i take straight. Theres been a lot of that in my life, penn says and he relates it, obliquely, to how he is able to function effectively in a destabilised environment such as haiti after the earthquake. I think tragedy can also be urgency. I find myself going calm, and being demanding. I can bring an American arrogance to anywhere in the world. Look, in the movie business you tell your crew: I need this set done yesterday. When I got to haiti and I saw how ngos worked, it would be like: This patient needs this, now, and this is the person to get in touch with.
And I was getting older, so i wasnt able to push through this thing mentally. Eventually a doctor prescribed Ambien: But it doesnt work like it used. It doesnt keep me asleep, but I get to sleep and at least get three hours. Then youre watching the clock for the time you have to get up, and its getting closer and closer. Some of Penns wilder behaviour makes more sense, perhaps, when looked at in the context of a man who has never had more than three unbroken hours sleep. Judgment issues, he says, raising his eyebrows in what is almost certainly a reference to the time, in 2009, when a court made him attend anger management classes after an altercation with a photographer. It probably didnt improve your temper, i suggest. Nor the thoughts that lead to a temperamental response. One result of this is that Penn often feels himself to operate best in crisis mode.
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Henry wallpaper kissinger is their resident expert. The gung-ho activism is more complicated and, on closer inspection, much more admirable than the caricature suggests. If there is precedent for Penn wading into a job about which he knows nothing and nailing it through sheer bloody-mindedness, it is here, in his experiences with aid. I was born.45am and I generally fall asleep.45am. Ive been to zen centres, done sleep studies, everything. In 2010, penn went to haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake and set up the, j/p haitian kerala Relief Organization, an agency that has, by all accounts, been enormously successful and helped thousands of haitians find shelter and medical relief. In a piece in the.
New York times in 2011, by which time penn had been in haiti for almost a year, veteran aid workers lined up to praise him. The question of what he was doing in haiti in the first place has roots in his inability to find equilibrium at home. The most persuasive passages in Bob Honey are those in which Penn writes of his characters insomnia. When i ask if this comes from experience, he takes a big breath. So this goes back as far as i, or my mother, can remember. I could never get myself to go to sleep. Id get up, sometimes, with no sleep at all.
Well, mocked means the persons an idiot. Penn smiles crookedly and shutters his lids. Im not vulnerable at all. There are two images of sean Penn that rival the memory of his greatest screen roles. Carlitos way, or, dead Man Walking, or his role as, harvey milk the 2008 biopic of Californias first gay elected official and a performance for which one could almost forgive penn any amount of bad behaviour off-screen there is the shot of him. The latter, taken two years ago when.
Penn interviewed El Chapo for Rolling Stone, brought down on his head almost as much opprobrium as Bob Honey, for its perceived amateurism and for the way it seemed to apologise for a man with so much blood on his hands. Just because someone writes about stuff doesnt mean they know about. I know fathers who dont know their own families. Most of these journalists on this subject know fucking nothing and most never read my piece. They read the excerpts. Then you get a talking head like. Don Winslow on cnn, ive read his books cover to cover and hes a functioning moron, and people think hes something. Thats their resident expert.
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Where these actors the are brands, and where even a movie he loves is the sum of compromises at its best, bob Honey, by contrast, is all mine. Its been said you never complete a film, you abandon it, and I didnt abandon this. I stand by every line exactly how I wrote. Has he seen the worst reviews? I have a sense of them. A bunch of children, schadenfreude, whatever. And in the end, some of the best laughs ive got have been the one-liners that have come out of the worst reviews. Through long espousal of leftwing politics, including vocal protests against the Iraq war and support of Hugo Chávez and, raúl Castro, penn is used to being unpopular. Does it hurt to be mocked?
No, because i wouldnt have done it any other way. When people listen to the advice they get, it usually robs the soul of the piece. In the movies, theyre being not thinking about whether it has impact on them; theyre thinking about whether it will impact the box office. This rather quaint view of publishing as an industry devoid of commercial principles and certainly not the kind of business that might judge a book by a famous actor to have greater value as a car crash than as something more credible is the main. But why would he trade in something he is indisputably world class at penn has won two Oscars, for. Milk and, mystic river for something he is indisputably not? The answer is burnout, what he calls my great source of alienation from my peers, actors who would rather sell a movie than make one.
might work along similar lines. The result, while largely insane, does provoke an emotional response in the reader and for that reason alone might be judged a success. I wrote the sean-by-osmosis version in about 30 days, penn says, after which I rewrote for two years, before selling it to simon schuster, where i got lucky; Peter Borland totally got the book. I felt I was being supported by a really smart reader. He wasnt looking to change anything, penn says cheerfully. But he did send me great notes which said, i dont understand this. Do you want me to? (In most cases Penn replied yes; in some, not so much.) The suggestion he was indulged because of his celebrity is one he finds baffling.
The novel, which follows the adventures of its eponymous hero as he goes around selling septic tanks and murdering old people, is a satire of American consumer culture and the cult of image, and for weeks its excesses have been gleefully documented. Penn writes as if every word has been put through a thesaurus: for face, read dermal mask; for quiet, lingering symphony of silence; a man with good hearing has extraordinary auditory augmentation efficiency. So it goes on, until we reach: Effervescence lived in her every cellular expression, and she had spizzerinctum to spare. Cherrypicking these extravagances has provided us with a jolly good laugh, but heres the odd thing: taken as a whole, there is something quite thrilling about Bob Honey, a hallucinatory effect that makes the novel at times almost feel like a piece of performance art. Linger long enough in the world of Penns prose and one starts to lose all purchase on reality, a sort of brain slide that Penn insists was intentional. It was meant to be gpa challenging, he says. Meant to have you stop-the-rhythm to go and look something. If he talks in a word fog, it is because he prefers to be understood by osmosis.
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Sean Penn walks essay into a low-key restaurant not far from his house and slides undetected into a seat at the back. It is a misty day in Malibu, 15 miles north of la, and the actor appears in familiar, i-dont-care guise: beat-up leather jacket, brushfire hair (which, in light of the views he will air about female vanity in Hollywood, i feel bound to report may. The 57-year-old greets me affably, to my surprise: while penn may be long admired for his acting, he is denigrated for almost everything else. He is known to be pugnacious, short-tempered, long-winded, a man who yells at photographers and smokes. And now he has written a lunatic novel. Its the most fun ive had professionally, he croaks and leans back in his chair. The editor wasnt looking to change anything. But he did send me great notes which said, i dont understand this'. A few days before our meeting, bob Honey who just do stuff was the subject of a full-page newspaper ad in which the publishers, rather cleverly, ran lines from the books worst reviews and asked readers to make up their own minds.