http://havanajournal.com/culture/entry/sean-penn-in-cuba-with-hopes-to-interview-fidel-castro/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Culture

Sean Penn in Cuba with hopes to interview Fidel Castro

Posted October 29, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
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Guardian.co.uk

The actor Sean Penn has flown to Cuba to chase what would be the biggest scoop of his career as a part-time journalist: an interview with Fidel Castro.

The Oscar winner, who last year bagged interviews with Raúl Castro and Hugo Chávez, is reportedly on assignment for Vanity Fair in his quest to meet Cuba’s former president.

In a sign of Havana’s approval the communist party newspaper Granma covered Penn’s visit yesterday to the Island of Youth, where he visited a gallery and met artists.

According to the online magazine tmz.com Penn hopes to ask Fidel about Cuba’s evolving relationship with the Obama administration.

The interview - which has not been confirmed - would be a coup for the Hollywood star’s brand of activist journalism. No western journalist has seen let alone interviewed the 83-year-old leader since an intestinal illness forced him from public view three years ago. Fidel stepped aside from the presidency but remains influential in Cuba - and an iconic, enigmatic figure abroad.

Penn, an outspoken liberal and anti-war activist, took a break from filming to visit Iraq as a journalist in 2004. He followed up with a visit to Iran the following year and then befriended Chávez.

Venezuela’s socialist president, who seldom gives interviews, gave ample access to Penn and arranged an interview with Raúl Castro, Cuba’s even more interview-shy president. The stories were published in The Nation and the Huffington Post.

Critics say the actor is too soft in the interviews and should leave journalism to professionals. “Why does someone like Penn think he can do this job, which isn’t his job?” asked The New Yorker.

Chávez and the Castros also opened their doors to Oliver Stone, another Hollywood leftist. He made sympathetic documentaries about his subjects, a contrast with most US media hostility to the Latin American presidents.

Sean Penn visits Isla de la Juventud in Havana.

Photograph: Mayangdi Inzaulgarat/EPA

Member Comments

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On October 29, 2009, publisher wrote:

According to the Associated Press, Michael Douglas is also in Cuba

Michael Douglas staged an impromptu walking tour of the Cuban capital’s historic district Tuesday, posing for photos with construction workers and surprised residents.

His visit came two days after fellow Oscar-winner Sean Penn arrived in Cuba, reportedly seeking an interview with 82-year-old Fidel Castro, who has been little seen since announcing he was suffering from an unspecified illness in July 2006. He stepped down as Cuba’s president in February of the following year and was replaced by his brother Raul.

Penn traveled to the Isle of Youth, off mainland Cuba on Monday to meet with local artists. There was no word on whether he got to see Fidel. He interviewed Raul during a visit last year.

Little was known about Douglas’ plans for his four days in Cuba, but he was accompanied on his walk through Havana’s old quarter by Patricia Rodriguez, an official at the city historian’s office.

Among the sites he toured was a state-run tobacco shop, where employees showed the actor the finer points of rolling a Cuban cigar.

It was unclear if either came with a U.S. exemption to Washington’s ban on travel to Cuba.

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Regarding Sean Penn’s interview with Fidel… I don’t see it happening. Fidel doesn’t have the courage to get interviewed by even a left wing nut job like Sean Penn.