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Oscar-winning Penn Advocates Against Hunger

Sean Penn, who has just won the ‘best actor’ Oscar for his portrayal of slain San Francisco gay rights activist Harvey Milk, is a leading supporter of WFP’s fight against hunger.

ROME -- Sean Penn recently made a TV spot for WFP highlighting the need for governments to remember the world’s hungry as they discuss multi-billion dollar financial rescue packages.

"I had a hunch that Sean Penn might like the idea of a TV spot that compared how much was being spent on the global financial crises and how little it would take to feed hungry children," said Jonathan Dumont, head of WFP’s video unit, who made the spot.  "He said 'yes' and so I found a crew and studio who were willing to donate their services and hopped on a flight to San Francisco."

In the 30-second spot, Penn unrolls long strips of dollar bills to show how much the world is spending on financial rescue plans. Then he takes another roll and tears off a little piece to show the cost of feeding the 59 million hungry school children in the world (US$3 billion a year).

“You want more bang for your buck. Let’s talk about the human rescue plan,” the 48-year-old actor says in the video, which he agreed to make for free.

The video has been viewed more than 22,000 times on WFP’s website ( and on YouTube. It also provoked a flurry of comment in the media, including the Wall Street Journal. 

Dumont made a behind-the-scenes video at the same time as he was making the spot. 

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Penn, who won his first Oscar in 2004 for "Mystic River," put in a performance in “Milk” that many pundits see as the best in his long and varied career. His Oscar nomination for "Milk" was his fifth in the best actor category. His long career took off after his starring role in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" in 1982.

Both "Milk" and his 2006 movie “All the King’s Men” reflect Penn’s keen interest in political and social affairs.

He is one of a host of actors, sports stars and musicians who have agreed to work with WFP to raise awareness about global hunger and WFP’s work to meet the hunger challenge. Learn more