Sean Penn sues Empire co-creator Lee Daniels for $10m after comments 'comparing him to Terence Howard'

Howard has been accused of domestic violence in the past

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The Independent Online

Sean Penn is suing the Empire co-creator Lee Daniels for $10 million (£6.5m) for allegedly comparing the actor to Terrence Howard in an interview, who has been accused of domestic violence in the past.

Daniel’s comments were made during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which was published online a week ago.

Defending the Empire actor, he told the magazine: "That poor boy (Terrence) ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some ... demon. That’s a sign of time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

Howard has been accused of assaulting his ex-wives Lori McCommas and Michelle Ghent. He has admitted striking his first wife but denied abusing Ms Ghent.

Penn’s defamation lawsuit claims Daniels' statements were "egregious" and damaging to his credibility and reputation in all aspects of his life; professional, personal and philanthropic. 

The suit also highlights Penn’s accomplishments and humanitarian work, presenting him as “an American icon”.

It states: "As a result of Penn's status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks. But Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels' defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions."

“Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard,” it later adds, “even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”

Daniels has produced the Academy Award winning film Precious and Monster's Ball and directed the 2013 historical drama The Butler.  Penn has won two Academy Awards for his performances in Mystic River and Milk.

The Independent has contacted Daniels’ publicist for comment.