On Feb. 22 at the 87th Academy Awards, Penn, tasked with presenting the best picture award, made waves when he opened the envelope and first asked "Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?" before announcing the winner as "Birdman."
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Directed by the Mexican-born Alejandro Irritu, many wondered whether the joke was distasteful. The term "green card" refers to a document that confers permanent residency on immigrants in the United States.
"I found it hilarious," Irritu said after the ceremony. "Sean and I have that kind of brutal (relationship) where only true friendship can survive."
Irritu directed Penn in the 2003 film "21 Grams" and the two remain close to this date.
"I make on him a lot of very tough jokes that I will not tell you," Irritu added.
While Irritu's casual dismissal of any perceived offense helped to temper the public response to the comment, Penn has remained largely silent on the topic.
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"I'm always surprised by flagrant stupidity. I keep having more hope," said Penn of the widespread outrage that followed the moment.
"The fact is that I understand it. I see it all the time. When somebody sees the opportunity to frame something in the comfort that it will be common_that they can do that and they can get a group to look at them and that they will take on those positions and never really think about what it was," he added.
"I have absolutely no apologies," Penn said with calm resolve.
"In fact, I have a big (expletive) you for every...anybody who is so stupid not to have gotten the irony when you've got a country that is so xenophobic," he said. "If they had their way, you wouldn't have great filmmakers like Alejandro working in this country. Thank god we do."
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Penn also clarified that the order of his comments were intentional.
"There's a little inside humor with he and I where I know, and wanted to know, that he would be the first person in that room to know that his film won," he said.
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