Hollywood star Sean Penn has refused to return to work on Starz's Watergate series 'Gaslit' until all cast and crew on the production have had the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor's firm position on mandatory vaccinations comes on the heels of a big spike in virus cases as the highly contagious delta variant spreads throughout California and U.S.
In Los Angeles County, COVID-19 cases have reached levels not seen since the waning days of the winter spike. Local officials have even warned the vaccinated to also take precautions.
Penn, who is fully vaccinated and recently returned from Cannes where his film 'Flag Day' premiered, has offered to help the Burbank-based production's vaccination efforts for free through his non-profit CORE.
The production of 'Gaslit' is already subject to Zone A restrictions, where producers have mandated vaccines for cast and crew. Under the current safety protocols, sets are divided up into different "zones" that correspond to proximity to actors and different levels of protection needed.
Zone A is typically the area on set where cast and crew have to work in close proximity, often without personal protective equipment. Penn, however, wants stricter rules and to include people outside or in close proximity to Zone A.
Based on Slate's 'Slow Burn' podcast, 'Gaslit' is a modern take on Watergate and tells the untold stories of the forgotten characters in the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon.
In the series, Penn portrays lawyer and convicted criminal John N. Mitchell, with Julia Roberts starring as Martha Mitchell. The cast also includes Shea Whigham as G. Gordon Liddy and Darby Camp as Mitchell's daughter, Marty. Betty Gilpin will star as Maureen "Mo" Kane Dean, the wife of John Dean played by Dan Stevens.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Matt Ross will direct and executive produce the series. The series will be produced by UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, for Starz, with Robbie Pickering on board as showrunner.