Filming one of his last scenes as Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay politician, who was assassinated by City Hall colleague Dan White in 1978, Sean Penn got all Method on the crowd of extras assembled to reenact the scene of an important speech Milk made on Gay Freedom Day 30 years ago.
Penn, who apparently requested to be called Harvey during the shoot, urged the couple thousand extras gathered in front of City Hall to come out to their families, and then capitalized on the momentum of the moment to impart a message that clearly came from the actor himself:
A production assistant followed Penn around the front of City Hall with a large navy blue umbrella. She held it over his head to shield him from the sun. Seeing he had a captive audience, Penn broke loose of the umbrella to deliver an impromptu speech that Milk would have loved.
“I almost wish Jerry Falwell were alive to see this. Almost,” Penn shouted to the crowd. After dropping some names of conservatives who are still with us—“Bill O’Reilly, who is too stupid to talk about,” and “Sean Hannity, the butt boy of Rupert Murdoch”—Penn said, “We know something more. We know their end is near.”