It’s wedding bells for the third time for actor Sean Penn, 59, and first time down the aisle for Sydney-born actress-turned-activist Leila George, 28, the daughter of actors Greta Scacchi and Vincent D’Onofrio.
“I am madly in love with a wonderful, extraordinary Australian woman,” he told news.com.au last week while promoting the non-profit he founded, Community Organised Relief Effort (CORE).
Just days later, news of their wedding came in a roundabout way from their friend, philanthropist Irena Medavoy, who congratulated the newly betrothed couple in a since-deleted Instagram post over the weekend.
Ahead of the top-secret nuptials, Penn was speaking from his Los Angeles home while George was travelling to Georgia. “She is the chief of staff for CORE and is currently setting up contract tracing in remote sites in immigrant communities,” he explained.
It’s a year of celebrations for the two-time Oscar winner (he received Best Actor trophies in 2004 and 2009, for Mystic River and Milk, respectively), with another milestone approaching as he turns the big 6-0 in two weeks.
He has an unusual attitude towards ageing. “It’s about time,” he laughs. “I’ve always thought of myself as a natural-born 77-year-old, so I’ve got 17 years before I’m going to feel like me.
“I’ll finally get 60 done so I can get onto 61, 62, and onwards to 77. When people ask that question on psychological profiles – ‘What age do you see yourself most comfortably?’ – for me, I don’t know why, but it’s always, always 77.”
And how will he celebrate the milestone birthday? Unusually open about his soon-to-be wife, he offers: “For anyone who knows wonderful Australian women, they know that they are in command of any celebrations that happen. So that’s lying in wait for me … or it’s not.
“But in any case, because she is a diligent worker in COVID-19 response, any celebration that might happen will be under very rigid policy with very few people.”
Some may raise an eyebrow at their 31-year age difference, but Penn and George have much in common, particularly their commitment to philanthropy. He also joined George to support the Meet Me in Australia fundraising event at the LA Zoo to benefit wildfire relief efforts, in March earlier this year.
Penn’s famously short fuse has been well documented over the years, though it would seem he’s remained on amicable terms with former wives Madonna, with whom he was married from 1985 to 1989, and Robin Wright, from 1996 to 2010, with whom he’s raised two children: Dylan, 28, and Hopper, 26.
He also dated Charlize Theron from 2013 to 2016 – although she recently stated categorically that marriage was never in the cards for her and Penn.
Penn’s children are both involved in his philanthropic endeavours, as they are his day job in the movie business. He most recently directed both of them in his upcoming drama, Flag Day, in which he also stars. The movie is about the daughter of a con artist who struggles to come to terms with her father’s past.