Sean Penn Says Not Getting COVID Vaccine Is Like 'Pointing a Gun in Somebody's Face'

The actor also explained that he believes COVID-19 vaccinations should be "mandatory"

sean penn
Sean Penn. Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty

Sean Penn isn't mincing words about his vaccine stance.

On Saturday, the 61-year-old actor chatted with CNN's Michael Smerconish, explaining that he believes that COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory amid the rise of the delta variant in America.

"I do believe that everyone should get vaccinated," Penn said during the interview. "I believe it should be mandatory, like turning your headlights on in a car at night, but obviously that's not going to happen tomorrow and yet — at least it can happen in some areas and businesses, a lot of businesses are starting to take the lead on that."

Penn then compared the dangers of going unvaccinated to threatening someone with a deadly weapon.

"... I have some areas of strong belief in the Second Amendment," he continued later in the conversation. "But I think that you need to recognize how — with something like this — you can't go around pointing a gun in somebody's face, which is what it is when people are unvaccinated."

During his interview with CNN, Penn also confirmed that he won't continue to work on his latest project unless the entire cast and crew are vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Oscar-winner has refused to show up to film the upcoming Starz limited series Gaslit and will only continue to participate if the entire production team gets the vaccine. Reps for Penn and the network did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment at the time Penn's stance was first reported.

"Actors are protected, but if a stagehand is working alongside a stagehand who is not protected, then they can get sick," Penn told CNN. "I didn't want to feel complicit in something that was just taking care of one group and not the other."

Penn has reportedly offered to have his nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) (which he co-founded as a response relief organization in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti) to administer the vaccinations. In March 2020, CORE began administering COVID-19 testing across the U.S., and this past January, the organization began providing vaccinations.

Penn was vaccinated in January, tweeting at the time, "I'm a lucky man."

Multiple large-scale studies have found that vaccines are safe. There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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