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April 23rd, 2012
06:40 PM ET

Sean Penn: "We're not paying attention to the basic foundation of what the country is, which is the quality of life for every American"

Coming up this evening on "Piers Morgan Tonight," actor and activist Sean Penn joins the program for an exclusive face to face interview.

The recent recipient of the 2012 Peace Summit Award for his work rebuilding Haiti, Penn is known as much for his humanitarian efforts and politics, as he is for film-making. Sitting down with Piers Morgan in Chicago, Penn details his support for President Obama, and endorses the campaign for a second term:

"What will relieve me, is to see the acknowledgement that we do have an incumbent president who can be extremely positive for this long as the people get involved and support and push the agenda of the president as well as criticize it where necessary," explains Penn "That's the energy that is going to make this incumbent president an even greater president in the next go round."

A two-time Academy Award winner and star of such films as "Milk," "I Am Sam," and "Mystic River," Penn takes personal responsibility for the direction in which the country has headed during Obama's time in office:

"I've disappointed me, more than the president has disappointed me. I, and we," says Penn. "We're not paying attention to the basic foundation of what the country is, which is the quality of life for every American and the way we reach out and allow that to extend to the rest of the world as a superpower that has influence on lives and quality of life around the world."

Watch the clip, and listen to the interview, then tune in this evening at 9 p.m. as Penn explains the relationship between his work in Haiti, and his work on screen.


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  1. jeffrey malone

    Mr. Morgan, no matter whom we have as president, it is not likely that they can provide the thousands of people in the United States with jobs. Congress has the voting power to make or break law that would and could create jobs. Myself, I have formulated an idea that could incorporate jobs not only here in the United States, but world wide bringing about a new era of world achievment. This idea, based on the fact that technology has ended the majority of our jobs. We now need to focus on the idea that the jobs have to be brought to the level of our technology. For a more detailed explanation of this idea of job creation, please contact me at my email.
    Jeffrey Malone

    April 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Maria Lucia Gomez-Greenberg

    Love the show tonight! Rahm Emanuel–eloquent, inspiring and interesting . I only wish Mr. Morgan would get out of the way! Let the guests speak! You are supposed to follow in Larry King's footsteps! We want to hear the guest–you, Mr Morgan , are the vehicle; you are now an obstacle. Please!

    April 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Anonymous

    To Mr. Rahm Emanuel

    Thank you for CARING enough about those kids in Englewood and other gang areas...yes, I agree with you, there should be enough police to get WEAPONS away...but to make REAL change, these kids need MENTORS who they can relate to b/c they've been there, done amount of lecturing, volunteers, etc. is going to do any good...Give 2nd chance to those in jail and when they are out, give them JOBS and technical college training in return for MENTORING one on one with the gang members...And to those leaders...get leaders from the prison to reach them in THEIR way...THEIR language...THEIR is the only hope...

    April 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. ginger

    Sean Penn hasn't gotten any smarter since Fast Times.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Jackson

      Thank you, Ginger!!!

      April 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • scotty

      you must be as thick as a plank; sean penn is an articulate, smart, well informed person and he has a social conscience. something more americans should have.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Sam Jackson

        What has Sean Penn done....really? While my son was in Haiti with the Canadian Forces , Penn came to one of the sites my son was working on and all he did was take advantage of a few photo ops with his entourage. He uses his "celebrity" to gain "awareness" for the plight of the Haitian people even though the earthquakes in Haiti made world news. Here's a thought, why not take a nice big chunk of that 150 million dollar net worth of his and make a large and anonymous charitable donation and shut up. Let the NGOs (including his own) and multinational government agencies do their jobs and stop trying to steal the spotlight and stroke his ego.

        April 24, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
      • Sam Jackson

        I guess because I don't agree with you, I'm as "thick as a plank". By the way....I'm Canadian, andeven I know that Americans have a conscience. They are the most charitable country in the world!

        April 24, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
      • Beth

        I love your comments Scotty. There should be more people like Sean Penn.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • C

        Is Sean Penn willing to give how fortune for social fairness? Or is he just another limousine liberal?

        April 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alexandra

    I have so much respect for Sean Penn. Good luck to you sir in all you are doing!

    April 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sam Jackson

    I wish Sean Penn would stick to his multi million dollar home in Malibu....and keep quiet! Everytime I hear him speak, I think....what an idiot!! Sean.....Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
    - Abraham Lincoln

    April 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leon

      Mr. Penn does not spend much time in Malibu as you might think, but he rather spends time rebuilding a nation in need, and people who have been through so much... You comment is quiet insulting and to a certain extent pretty arrogant. Before bashing down on the man, find out what he has been doing! He is a respectable human being who understand that there is a world out there besides the 50 states you are aware of.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Britton

        His criticism is warranted. Penn is an idiot for allowing Bush fascist policies of continuous war, skyrocketing debt, a collapsing dollar, warrantless wiretapping/spying, NDAA, Trespass Bill and a whole host of other crap that was advanced from when Bush left and continued under the Obama Administration.

        April 24, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Maurice

    I did not respect the way you ended the interview with Sean Penn. If you ilisten to what he was saying is that the big bully England was showing its mighty strength because of the oil reserves. How about a mutual understanding to a part of the world that is economically devastated and could use commerce to an island that is in their backyard! Sean Penn has always stood-up for the right causes no matter whose big interest is hurt but what is just! Keep up the good work Sean!

    April 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Luke

      Are you serious???? You think it is JUST for us to get kicked out of our home, the home we have been living in 100% peacefully for hundreds of years spanning now nine generations of Falkland Islanders. It makes me sick that people like you exist, who cast their judgement on things they have not even attempted to understand. Sean Penn is one of those people. These Islands are our home. Argentina's claim has been dissproven repeatedly, the only reason why anyone is even talking about it is because Argentina are being aggressive putting in place economic blockades on the Falklands and making a big noise, whereas the UK are simply backing up our right to keep our homes. Enough evidence too support Argentina's bogus claim should be the simple fact they won't even take it to court... because they know for a fact they would lose, we would keep our homes, and Las Malvinas would no longer exist in their warped fairy tale of a world. Oh and btw Argentina don't just claim the Falkland Islands, they also claim South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, Some of Antarctica, Parts of Chile and i believe other bordering countries are also getting their land claimed! It's sickening. How can nobody see this? DO SOME RESEARCH AND STOP LISTENING TO ACTORS.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Emilio

        you shouldn't even be there anyways! when the pirates!!! invade Malvinas back in the 1800 they kill and/or sent off all the people that were living there, we, Argentina should do the same with you guys!!!

        April 24, 2012 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
      • Dan

        Well said Luke. I found it hilarious the way Sean Penn completely disregarded PM's questions and instead used the obvious side track technique talking about Thatchers involvement with Pinnochet to avoid the facts – maybe PM shouldve hit back with American association with Bin Laden etc. PM saw this and chose not to pursue. Sean Pen obviously knows nothing of the history surrounding the Falklands. Also, Emilio, are you kidding? you stole it from the native indians there. Argentina only claims this because the land is close (althoguh 200km) from its shores. Maybe the UK should claim France and parts of Scandenavia. Sean Penn should stick to acting and leave politics alone he's out of his depth. He looked like a moron. He's an idealist who lives in a dream world. Going back to the Falklands, the president of Argentina is using this as a divertion technique becuase the country is in financial ruin, even scholars in her country are trying to get her out because she hasn't dealt with any of the problems and merely tries to whip uip support for taking the Islands back. Try it! we defended it once ad we will do so again.

        April 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • WorldCares

      I agree.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. sehaase

    True Americans are well aware of "what the country is". BHO & anyone who supports him are deceivers. Calling BHO's assault on America a 'positive' is offensive. When the globalists are finished this will no longer be 'America'.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Maurice

    What is amazing to me how someone could be so deceived and think that the President's agenda is to destroy America? How he is influenced by the right...the poor soul as one day judgement day will come your way. We are all brothers!

    April 23, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. sonnyofthemeek

    This fell out of Sean's pocket-

    Presidential Unaccountability Commission Report- Year Four 2012

    Congratulations to all, thanks to the tremendous effort by all to do nothing, we will be another year unhampered by a budget. Spending has been wild and wonderful again this year, bonus will be tripled if trend continues, thank “BUSH”. Vacation pictures and stories have been uploaded, Democrats win this years “ MOST EXCESSIVE AWARD”, three years running. The Chief sends his regards from the campaign trail vacation, reminding all to donate and vote as often as we need. He loved the upgrades and suggestions GSA provided, as we all do. And as always he reminds us to keep the people distracted.

    Now for those in the news divisions serving faithfully now, as during the past few years, a few problems need to be addressed quickly. A review of some guest comments allowed to be aired show the urgency to pass our bill. Your sheep will follow without question if you curb the truth with better editing.
    With our grip on web, print, assembly, you are the weakest link. See our tsar’s for propaganda if manufacturing is not your strong suit. Boycotts are not restricted to the opposition! Carry on troops.

    Donations are down from certain members (names with held to protect your lack of dignity) again this year, do we have to replace you after all? The time to rock the boat is not now, so shape up, or ship out.

    Now that our insider knowledge is public knowledge, the recording secretary will take a break from time to time. Finances otherwise continues to pour into our horn of plenty unchecked. Spend wisely as it appears no tax increase on the rich this election cycle will be possible due to inability to fool citizens. Work on this!

    Some of our membership will be called upon to answer questions this administration takes the fifth on, follow your playbook to the letter. Rope a dope the dummy’s into submission to our will. If we want them to know something you will be the first to know (if in good standings of course). No comment still the preferred reply.

    In closing, I, along with the administration look forward to four more years!

    April 24, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • C

      Staling from the rich will never better you.

      April 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Daniel

    Piers: to hear both your guests blame former President Bush for the current state of our economy and country is truly disturbing and out of touch with the American people. Yes, our president inherited a huge crisis but it was his adminstration that insisted if his trillion dollar stimulus was passed unemployment would not go over 8%. He spent his first 18 months in office focued on healthcare at the expense of our economy. The great F.D.R inherited a far worse mess than President Obama. In his fireside chats and public speeches he NEVER ONCE blamed Hoover after his election. To pass the buck three and a half after being elected is nothing more than a sign of failed leadership..

    April 24, 2012 at 1:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. AAllen

    Sean Penn needs to leave the U.S. and become a citizen of another country. However, he cannot be so outspoken about his feelings on their country. Please remember you liberal idiot, of the men and women that protect your freedom of speech! I disagree with out government at times, but I am the luckiest human being, to be an American Citizen. My parents taught me to love and appreciate this country and disagree when appropriate. But not in a way, that condemns it. Sean, please go somewhere else and live your dreams. I know that you will be back here in no uncertain terms because there is no other country like the United States.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • scotty

      oh get over yourself! of course sean penn has a right to criticise. sounds like he actually does his research. do you? do you ever travel? here's a news flash – scots think scotland is the greatest, italians think italy is the greatest, the french think france is the greatest – do you see a pattern here?

      April 24, 2012 at 2:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Beth

        Wow, so much criticism of Sean Penn. Why? He is a humanitarian who spends his time in Haiti when he could be sailing around the Riviera. Let's give some credit where it is due.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. WorldCares

    My "I agee" got sandwiched in a debate.
    When I lived in the UK, in the 70s, an individual said to me, "You treat your actors as if they were royalty."
    They still do. Money talks.
    It takes the World to make it work.
    Vote Obama.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jeffrey Malone

    Mr. Morgan,

    I cannot believe that all the comments that I have read are that of blindness. It seems people are apt more to criticize than to become part of a solution. How blind the people are, is just amazing.

    Jeffrey Malone

    April 24, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Carol

    So it is settled...Obama and Sean Penn for President! If more folks would think like these two ment do...What a better World this would be...

    April 24, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      errrr and America would be ruined. Dont you people get it, it's dog eat dog world, we dont live in an ideal world where we all sit around singing 'we are the world' people out there want to destroy our freedoms, they hate America and the West. It's either them or us and we need to say no. Obama has ruined the country so far. Apart from havnig more holidays than any other president and when at home – partying with the likes of Stevive Wonder, Will Smith and Oprah, he has destroyed the relationship with the UK, has bowed before the king of Saudi Arabia, counts Al Sharpton as a friend and appears that he hates America – need i say more?

      April 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. scotty

    to the person who said the only thing sean penn did in haiti was pose with canadian soldiers, sean penn has been honoured by the government in haiti for his humanitarian work after the earthquake and recently honoured by a group of nobel laureates for his work in haiti. I guess those people were just bowled over by the fact that he's an actor.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Fergal

    Saw Mr Penn whilst getting a taxi at JFK airport. That guy has serious panache. Hope he keeps directing as well as working with the likes of Terence Malick. Im sure he came across as intelligent as ever on Morgans show.

    April 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 5, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Lidiane

    A few years ago two parents went out for dennir. A few hours later, the babysitter was calling to see if she could cover up the clown statue in the kids' room, the father said Get the kids and get out of the house, we'll call the police, we don't have a clown statue . The clown statue was actually a killer that escaped from jail. If you don't post this on 10 videos tonight the clown will be in your bed at 3:00am with a chainsaw in his hand. Sorry don't want this to happen to me.

    June 27, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  20. For Pay Per Click

    Outstanding job once again.. Thank you.

    August 25, 2012 at 2:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Tony Allen

    I agree that we are not paying attention but the basic foundation of what the country is, that made us a superpower in the first place, is each of us taking total responsibility to make our nation and the world a better place!

    Not demanding a nice quality of life for every American as a right, a privileged and a liberty. Liberty is only part of the story and half of the truth.
    It is our Liberty + Responsibility = our Freedom. This is what made our country what it is and no one deserves quality of life unless they live with Responsibility for them selves and others.

    Each of us should be reminded that it is personal responsibility and responsibility for our communities, our nation and the world that makes a better life for us and builds a great community and nation. That is the message that we should be reaching out with and allow that to extend to the rest of the world as a superpower. That is the message that will have a everlasting influence on lives and quality of life around the world.

    April 3, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Marian Purtell

    I really enjoy listening to Sean Penn. he has a quiet and rational way of expressing his deep convictions. The work he has done in Haiti, while denigrating his own role, is quite admirable. I would love to hear more on his ideas about improving life in the US. He seems not to enjoy the limelight so having a long discussion with him must be difficult. Being humble is good, however if it prevents him from making positive changes in our country , it may not be so good. Sean, tell us more of your ideas!

    October 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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