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Sean Penn is not a fan of Steve Bannon. His distaste for Donald Trump’s former chief strategist and the former executive of Breitbart goes back many years before Bannon entered the political scene. Before the notoriously liberal-minded actor knew Bannon as a leader of the alt-right movement in the U.S., Penn worked with Bannon on a film—and he wasn’t a fan back then either.
Penn was directing 1991’s The Indian Runner in Iowa, when Bannon, the executive producer on the film, flew in from New York and, in Penn’s description, stood in a cornfield while wearing a Brooks Brothers suit. All of a sudden, Penn said he noticed two “cheerleader-looking” makeup assistants that weren’t requested by Penn for what Penn called a movie with a “minimal budget.”
They were from New York as well, and Penn figured they were brought in by Bannon.
As Penn told Conan O’Brien, “That was my first sense of him … he was a crook, is what I thought.”
When Bannon arrived on the political scene more than 25 years after the two worked together, Penn didn’t recognize him at first.
“I didn’t even know it was the same Steve Bannon until I looked at him closely and imagined the Steve Bannon I knew but where the toxins of the soul so deteriorate and bloat and meld …” Penn said. “I don’t think you can age like that without hating people. That’s my impression of him.”
Here’s the segment with Penn talking about Bannon and proclaiming, “I would say he exerted the same level of charm [back then] that he does today.”
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.