In a post-pandemic world, the rules are being rewritten on the fly about how productions move forward and how certain projects are completed. Sean Penn might be at the forefront of that now. Even with vaccinations on the rise, there are still shows and movies that are having to take a break with their filming because of positive tests on the set. It’s a new world order when it comes to how these productions work and some actors and actresses are drawing a line in the sand around who they will work with going forward. According to Variety, Sean Penn has been very clear about what he needs to return to the set of an upcoming film. He’s said that he won’t come back until everyone working on the film is vaccinated.
The movie in question is Gaslit which is being produced by Starz. Sean Penn has said he won’t be returning to work on the set until at least a certain group of workers is vaccinated. According to the Variety report, that is designated as “Zone A” crew which work in very close proximity to the actual filming and acting talent on the set. In an effort to get the working situation comfortable, as the actor sees it, he’s helped to coordinate the vaccination effort for all of those who need/ want it. It will be interesting to see how this Sean Penn ultimatum takes shape with it being one of the first times a major talent has made vaccinations a core demand regarding his need for on-set working conditions.
The demand by Sean Penn to make sure everyone involved with Gaslit has a Covid-19 vaccination comes on the heels of multiple productions having to shut down or take a prolonged break because of positive Covid tests on set. These include, but aren’t limited to HBO’s Westworld and House of Dragons, Netflix’s Bridgerton, and FX’s American Horror Story which all had to pause filming because of positive tests. These all happened this past week, pointing to the possibility that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to movies and shows moving forward in the short term.
And it’s unlikely Sean Penn is the last actor or actress we see make this kind of demand regarding vaccines on set. With the heightened awareness around vaccine numbers worldwide and Delta variant increasing, there’s still a spotlight on the after-effects of the pandemic and the idea that it isn’t over yet. If productions are going to face increased delays because of positive tests, we could see something along the lines of universal requirements when it comes to vaccines among cast and crew. That last part is merely speculation, but the above list of shows on pause along with the demand by Sean Penn sure seems like we are heading in that direction.
If Gaslit ever gets up and running, it will follow the story of the aftereffects of the Watergate affair in the 1970s. Penn plays John Mithcell, the United States Attorney General at the time who was also in charge of both of Richard Nixon’s presidential campaigns. Mitchell was ultimately sentenced to prison. The series is set for seven episodes when/ if it airs.