Sean Penn Just Hit Lee Daniels of ‘Empire’ with a $10 Million Defamation Suit


After telling The Hollywood Reporter‘s Lacey Rose that Empire star Terrence Howard “ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon,” co-creator Lee Daniels has run into legal trouble with Penn himself, according to the same publication.

It seems hard to believe that a mention in passing could have incurred anywhere near $10 million worth of damage to Penn’s career, which has done just fine even after the actor was charged with felony domestic assault during his marriage to Madonna (he pled guilty to a misdemeanor). But according to the suit, “…Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.”

The suit also takes issue with the comparison to Howard, even as it accuses Daniels of condoning his actor via the Penn analogy: “Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”

While Penn is at it, he might want to watch this season of Bojack Horseman, in which character Diane Nguyen makes a near-identical point about the numerous public figures who have accusations of abuse and assault on record, and decide whether that‘s lawsuit-worthy too.

Update: TMZ reports that Penn was never charged with domestic violence during his marriage to Madonna; according to The New York Daily News, the singer filed charges in 1989, then requested that they be dropped.