Sean Penn says 'new bride' Leila George 'pushes' him to be 'a better person'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4 min read

Sean Penn says his “new bride,” Leila George, is helping him improve himself — whether it’s his health or his relationship skills.

On the new Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard podcast, the Oscar-winning actor and humanitarian — who turns 60 today — talked about getting back on the exercise track after becoming a “slug” during the pandemic. He credited George, 28, for helping him get there.

“My new bride has got me started on a cleanse, which leads to the beginning of exercise again,” Penn said.

While he’s known for being in great shape through his decades in showbiz, Penn described himself as a “binge exerciser” and said he had been getting very little between traveling to set up COVID-19 testing sites for his non-profit CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) and doing post-production on Flag Day, an upcoming film he directed and acts in.

“I’ve been sitting on airplanes in N95 masks, and then talking to people in masks, and driving to the next place and eating fast food in between,” Penn said of his pandemic lifestyle. “Then coming back to an edit room and puffing and puffing [on cigarettes] and eating crap.”

He said the cleanse George has him is helping him reboot, explaining, “I’ve always been able to recover pretty fast. I think there’s that thing — if you did it when you’re young,” he said of exercise, “you have that kind of muscle memory. You can get in some kind of shape.”

Penn also spoke about George while discussing self-improvement and shedding bad habits in relationships that he had long relied on. He said that his children with ex-wife Robin Wright, Dylan and Hopper Penn, help “push that out of us” before adding that “intimate relationships” do too.

“I said I just got married,” Penn began, “and Leila certainly pushes stuff to the surface that has to be understood for me to be better at stuff — a better person, better communicator.”

Penn said he’s been in therapy through the years, though it started off as “ultimatum therapy.” He explained that it was first required by the courts then by romantic partners, likely including Wright. Eventually, “I got sold” on it.

During the conversation, Shepard noted that George, the Australian-American actress daughter of Vincent D'Onofrio, used to live in his house.

“I did know that,” Penn said.

Shepard’s co-host, Monica Padman, called George “the sweetest person” to which Penn replied, “She is, indeed.”

Shepard said that his one requirement for George moving in was that she couldn’t wake him, and presumably wife Kristen Bell, up before 8 a.m with any noise.

“Did she violate ever?” Penn asked. When told no, George never disturbed Shepard in any way, Penn said, “She’s a pretty good sleeper.”

Penn married George on July 30 after four years of dating. On Late Night With Seth Meyers earlier this month, he described the secret nuptials as a “COVID wedding.” The very private wedding ceremony took place at the couple’s home. They had “a county commissioner on Zoom” officiating and guests were limited to his two children and George’s brother.

He even flashed his new wedding ring:

Penn apparently won back George prior to their wedding. A source told People magazine that the pair reunited early this year after being on and off for a while.

“They got together and then they broke up, and Sean won her back,” the insider said. “He realized he had made a mistake and when he felt he might lose her, he worked hard to get her back."

Penn, whose CORE charity has administered over 1 million COVID tests in the U.S., also spoke a lot on Armchair Expert about the coronavirus, saying he is behind a two-week “nationwide total shutdown” to get the virus under control. “Why? Because It’s the right message... We need to be in solidarity in that attrition.”

He added, “I know I speak from privilege. I know a lot of people go through hell. But my fear is they’re going to go through [hell much longer] if we don’t get this thing quashed.”

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