Sean Penn is refusing to return to the set of his new show, "Gaslit," until everyone on the production has received their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The actor issued the ultimatum after NBCUniversal, the studio behind the crime drama based on the Watergate scandal, announced that it would be implementing mandatory vaccinations in "Zone A," which refers to cast and crew working within close proximity of one another. Penn is challenging these protocols, stating that he will not work until everyone on the set has been vaccinated, Deadline reported on Thursday.
There has been a surge in cases of COVID-19 in California, which is where filming is currently underway, and Penn has offered to drive the effort free of charge through his organization CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort).
Sources told Deadline that the studio has been sympathetic towards Penn's wish, and has done everything it can to adhere to safety protocols on the set, but may not be in the legal position to impose mandatory vaccinations, at least not until it has negotiated this with the unions and other studios. Until then, if Penn continues to refuse to return to filming, there could be massive delays in the production as he is reportedly yet to wrap up his scenes.
Meanwhile, CORE is currently issuing vaccinations in Brazil and India and is also involved in the behind-the-scenes advocacy for distribution, Penn revealed in an interview with Deadline.
"We are very concerned to get vaccines to Haiti, which is having a spike," he explained. "It dodged the bullet for a while, in part because it had a pre-COVID lack of tourism, and once COVID happened, you didn’t have a lot of influx of people from the outside coming in. But now it’s becoming a bigger issue, and so we’re trying very hard."
Penn said that CORE was advocating the delivery of vaccines, while also being part of working with the Haitian Ministry of Health in its implementation.
"Bringing together our clinicians to be able to give the injections. ... That’s what we’re up to and I think we will stay in that game in those territories and then expand as possible, until we are whatever small part of seeing this thing end, worldwide," he added.
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