Sean Penn: Hollywood’s Red Carpet Grumpus

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Photo: Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis,Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images,Ann-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty ImagesFrank Trapper/Sygma/CorbisAnn-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

It's awards season, which means practically every day brings a new wave of shots of smiling celebrities. And every batch of professionally grinning stars further shines a light on one anomaly: Sean Penn, a man who is innately unable to muster up any joy on a red carpet. He’s like an unhappy cat shoved into a penguin suit. He has been a star for more than 30 years, and there is something impressive about his stubborn resentment of all things flash-bulbed. He saunters his way through every gala with a fixed scowl, as if he were part bull and trying to hold back his seeing-red rage. Simply put: He’s the anti–Anne Hathaway. Below, stroll through a history of Sean Penn begrudgingly walking the red carpet. Or maybe he’s actually only pretending to hate it; it’s hard to tell — the man’s a great actor.  

(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Sean Penn (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

1989, We're No Angels Premiere: That cigarette is all that stops him from either frowning or shouting about how he wants to be frowning.

04 Dec 1992, Los Angeles, California, USA --- SPECIAL SCREENING OF 'CHAPLIN' IN LOS ANGELES --- Image by ? Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis
Photo: Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis

1992, Screening of Chaplin: He just looks like that because he bought his shoes at that Payless to his left. Maybe it doesn't feel good to pay less.

09 Nov 1995, Los Angeles, California, USA --- FILM PREMIERE: SEAN PENN'S 'THE CROSSING GUARD' --- Image by ? Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis
Photo: Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis

1995, The Crossing Guard Premiere: "Your flashes! They burn! I'm melting. I'm melting. Ha-ha! Anyway, Wizard of Oz references aside, I fucking hate this."

12 Jun 1996, Los Angeles, California, USA --- WESTWOOD FILM PREMIERE: 'MOLL FLANDERS' --- Image by ? Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis
Photo: Frank Trapper/Sygma/Corbis

1996, Moll Flanders Premiere: "Maybe if I lean back hard enough, I'll start moving backward and off this red carpet. Damn your forward momentum, Robin, you are ruining everything!"

Sean Penn and Robin Wright during Sweet & Lowdown Premiere at The Academy in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Photo: J. Vespa/WireImage

1999, Sweet & Lowdown Premiere: "Consider this hair a line graph charting my drop in joy during this part of the evening. More like 'lowdown and not sweet premiere.'"

384118 05: Actors Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn arrive at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures'' "The Pledge" January 9, 2001 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Liaison)
Photo: Chris Weeks/Getty Images

2001, The Pledge Premiere: "Okay, tonight, since it's a movie I directed, I'll enjoy myself and ... What's that, Mr. Paparazzi? Say 'cheese'? I once had a cat named Cheese who we had to put to sleep. Nice going; now I'm pissed again!"

Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn during 2002 Toronto Film Festival - "White Oleander" Premiere at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage

2002, Toronto Film Festival: "Fine, I won't frown, but my mustache sure will." (A phrase Penn loved so much, he eventually tattooed it over his heart.)

ROME - OCTOBER 24:  Emile Hirsch and Sean Penn attends the 'Into The Wild' photocall during Day 7 of the 2nd Rome Film Festival on October 24, 2007 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Emile Hirsch;Sean Penn
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

2007, Rome Film Festival: Wait! Sunglasses seem to be the key to his happiness! Turns out he was only angry about the way the flash bulbs hurt his eyes! Problem solved!

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 14:  Jury President and Actor/Director Sean Penn poses for the Jury Photocall during the 61st International Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2008 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

2008, Cannes Film Festival: Woof. Never mind.

US actor and director and President of the Jury Sean Penn gestures as he arrives to attend the Closing Ceremony of the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 25, 2008 in Cannes, southern France. The May 14-25 festival winds up with the awards ceremony for the prestigious Palme d'Or, to be determined by a jury headed by Hollywood "bad boy" Sean Penn.    AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images

2008, Cannes Film Festival: We've been having some fun here, but in this one, he looks seriously pained and legitimately sad. Who is forcing this man to make these appearances?

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  (EDITORS NOTE: NO ONLINE, NO INTERNET, EMBARGOED FROM INTERNET AND TELEVISION USAGE UNTIL THE CONCLUSION OF THE LIVE OSCARS TELECAST)  Actor Sean Penn poses in the press room after winning the award for Best Actor for "Milk" at the 81st Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on February 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sean Penn
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

2009, Academy Awards: Finally! The only surefire way to get a smile out of Penn is to put an Oscar in his hand. It's downright Pavlovian, though much harder to arrange than ringing a bell.

US actor Brad Pitt (R), US actress Jessica Chastain and US actor Sean Penn pose on the red carpet before the screening of "The Tree of Life" presented in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2011 in Cannes.      AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

2011, The Tree of Life Premiere: "What are you jerks smiling at? Don't you know we're on the red carpet? Is it because you're both so pretty? Oh, it is? Carry on then."

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20:  (L-R)  Eve Hewson,  Sean Penn and Paolo Sorrentino depart the "This Must Be The Place" premiere during the 64th Annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2011 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

2011, This Must Be the Place Premiere: "Finally, people on my grumpy wavelength. Let's get this party started! And by 'started' I mean let's sulk in the beat."

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 18:  Sean Penn attends the "Haiti Carnival In Cannes" photocall on May 18, 2012 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Tony Barson/FilmMagic)
Photo: Tony Barson/FIlmMagic

2012, Cannes Film Festival: The good news is he isn't frowning. The bad news is it seems like all these years of red carpet flashbulbs have driven him to madness.

Actor Sean Penn poses on arrival for the Los Angeles World Premiere of the film "Gangster Squad" at Grauman's Chinese Theater  on January 7, 2013 in Hollywood,California.  The film opens nationwide on January 11. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. BROWN        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

2013, Gangster Squad Premiere: New year, new movie, new outlook on red carp— Nope. Same outlook. Even his hair looks like it's frowning.