Sean Penn refuses to return to ‘Gaslit’ set until all cast and crew vaccinated

The actor hopes to challenge safety protocols as COVID-19 cases rise

Sean Penn will not return to the set of Watergate drama series Gaslit until everyone on the production has been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The show is currently filming in Los Angeles, where indoor mask wearing has been reimposed on account of the rising number of cases in the city. Meanwhile, the number of cases among the unvaccinated are rising drastically across the country.

According to Deadline, Penn has now insisted to the show’s production company that vaccinations across the entire production should be mandatory. He has offered to facilitate the vaccination effort free of charge through his organisation CORE (Community Organised Relief Effort).


The actor’s absence from set may result in a delay in shooting if his demands are not met. This is one of the first instances where Hollywood leaders have been directly challenged on their current COVID-19 safety protocols by an actor.

Sean Penn Cannes 2021
(L to R) Dylan Penn, Sean Penn, Katheryn Winnick and Director of photography Danny Moder attend the ‘Flag Day’ press conference during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on July 11, 2021. CREDIT: Kate Green/Getty Images

NBCUniversal, the studio behind Gaslight, implemented mandatory vaccinations in “Zone A” this week. This means the cast of the show and those who come in close proximity must be vaccinated.

However, Penn has insisted that this must apply to those outside of Zone A also. He believes they can still come into proximity and potentially spread a variant.

Gaslit is based on the popular podcast series Slow Burn. It co-stars Julia Roberts, Dan Stevens and former GLOW star Betty Gilpin. Penn plays Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John N. Mitchell. He has several weeks left before he is due to wrap on the series.

Last year, the Oscar-winning actor set up a free Malibu testing site with organisation CORE, which is helping in the ongoing crisis.


According to USA Today, Penn hopes to “save lives and alleviate depletion of resources”.

He added: “We have an infrastructure in place to respond, and so we decided that we would if we could be value added.”

“It’s something that we can adapt to very quickly with the training of the Los Angeles Fire Department initially. And then we’re able to take all those firemen and put them back in to serve the people in the way that we need them to.”