Sean Penn Tests Positive For COVID-19, Says Paul Thomas Anderson At DGA Awards


Sean Penn has tested positive for COVID-19, Paul Thomas Anderson announced from the stage during Saturday night’s DGA Awards at the Beverly Hilton.

Anderson was explaining why Penn was a no-show at the ceremony as he was confirmed to present the Licorice Pizza filmmaker with a special medallion honoring his nomination for best feature film in a category that also featured Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Denis Villeneuve (Dune) and Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), the latter of whom would soon take the top prize.

“Sean tested positive for COVID, which is kind of crazy considering what he’s done for all of us,” Anderson said of Penn who has a supporting role in his film. “Like a World War I veteran coming home, slipping on a step. So, it’s a drag not to have him here. It’s a pleasure to work with him and all the actors. It’s the best part of this job that we all have.”

Penn’s ex-wife, Leila George, with whom he has reportedly reunited, stepped up to cover Penn’s job at the podium by presenting Anderson’s medallion. It’s unclear when he tested positive for the virus though all guests who attended the guild’s annual ceremony were required to show proof of vaccination and submit a negative COVID-19 test prior to admittance.

Anderson’s comment about what Penn has done “for all of us” referred to the work that the actor, activist, and humanitarian has done through his Community Organized Relief Effort, the nonprofit he launched in 2010 in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti. In recent years, CORE, which he runs with co-founder and CEO Ann Lee, has expanded its work to include other natural disasters and emergency response needs across the globe.

When the COVID-19 pandemic was set in March 2020, CORE mobilized in new ways to respond to the crisis, most notably in Los Angeles where staffers worked with local officials to mount testing sites and, later, vaccination programs across the city with a focus on underserved, low-income communities. As of March 11, CORE has administered 2,688,000 vaccines and 6,343,000 tests, according to its website.

Penn has also been an advocate for mandatory vaccinations in Hollywood on sets. He took a stand on the TV series Gaslit and stepped away from the production until mandatory protocols were in place. Meanwhile, he was in the news in recent days as he turned up in Ukraine where he was working on a documentary for Vice about the Russian invasion. CORE is also supporting relief efforts in Ukraine by providing hygiene kits and emergency cash for refugees.

While Penn was expected at the DGA Awards, it was not to be his only scheduled stop on Saturday night. THR learned that he was also due to turn up at the Beverly Hills Hotel for an invitation-only event hosted by Jim Irsay, owner, and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts. The reception celebrated the 100th birthday of late literary great Jack Kerouac and was to feature readings of Kerouac’s work and memorabilia from the Jim Irsay Collection. Expected to appear alongside Penn were Douglas Brinkley, Cameron Crowe, Sean Hemingway, R.E.M. founding member Mike Mills, Drew Carey, Jeremy Strong, D’Arcy Carden, Rick Springfield, Lance Bass, Lisa Vanderpump, Sharon Osbourne, Nancy Wilson and others.