Martin Sheen explains why he’s no longer against ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

By Daniel S Levine,

Actor Martin Sheen had been among a group of actors who tried to persuade Academy voters against voting for Zero Dark Thirty because of its controversial depiction of torture. However, the Apocalypse Now actor has reversed his decision, explaining that he didn’t really understand the petition he was signing up for.

Sheen told The New York Times that he believed the petition, signed by actors David Clennon and Ed Asner, only condemned torture, not the film as well.

“It’s my own fault,” Sheen wrote in an email.

Writer Mark Boal said that he and director Kathryn Bigelow received a letter from Sheen after the Golden Globes and spoke with the actor on the phone. He praised them and the film.

Sheen later told the Times that the filmmakers had “done great, great service to the issue” of torture and praised Bigelow’s opposition to it. He said that he “was very moved and troubled by” the film.

Sheen also explained that he never spoke with Clennon directly about the petition, only through their assistants.

“None of us, who advocate the abolition of torture, have tried to discourage others from seeing the film,” Clennon said in his own statement to the Times. “Ed Asner and I have expressed our opposition to the film’s encouragement of the tolerance of torture.”

Zero Dark Thirty is up for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Actress (Jessica Chastain). Bigelow was surprisingly not nominated for Best Director.

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