Gaslit: Watergate Series–Sean Penn’s Demands

Sean Penn Demands Cast and Crew Get Vaccinated Before Returning to Work on ‘Gaslit’ Watergate Series

The actor’s move comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 is creating a huge spike in new cases in California.


Oscar winner Sean Penn is refusing to return to work on Starz’s Watergate series Gaslit until all cast and crew on the production have had the COVID-19 vaccine, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

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 are reaching levels not seen since the waning days of the winter spike and local officials are even warning the vaccinated to 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.

Sean Penn


The Gaslit production 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, is looking for stricter rules and to include people outside or in close proximity to Zone A.

Deadline was the first to report the news.

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 would bring down President Richard Nixon.

Penn plays lawyer and convicted criminal John N. Mitchell in Gaslit, 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.

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.