First Look: Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant's Milk

February 1, 2008
Source: SlashFilm

Gus Van Sant's Milk

To be painfully honest, I'm not all that convinced Gus Van Sant is still a great filmmaker. His latest film, Paranoid Park, was quite awful, but maybe it was just one bad experience. How can the guy who directed Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester lose his abilities that quickly? Anyway, Van Sant's next film is Milk, the story of California's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk. It is currently filming in San Francisco on the city's notorious Castro Street, and some scoopers have sent in the first photos of both Sean Penn as Harvey Milk and Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones.

Milk, which actually could turn out to be a great movie, is a biopic that tells the real-life story of Harvey Milk, a San Francisco Supervisor who became the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in history. Milk, and Mayor George Moscone, were later assassinated by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White in 1978 when Mayor Moscone would not re-appoint him back into the Board of Supervisors. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, Victor Garber plays Mayor George Moscone, Josh Brolin plays Dan White, and Emile Hirsch plays gay activist Cleve Jones. Jones was a friend of Milk and worked as a student intern in his office while studying political science at San Francisco State University.

Thanks to SlashFilm (twice), we have the first photos of Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch on set in San Francisco. You can see Penn as Milk three times: in the first photo point blank, on the poster in the window in the second photo, and standing with his back towards the camera talking to Hirsch in the last photo.

Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's Milk

Sean Penn in Gus Van Sant's Milk

Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant's Milk

Emile Hirsch in Gus Van Sant's Milk

Is it me or do all of these characters so far look rather comical? I'll even go as far as to say Hirsch looks like a clown with that fro and the glasses. I'm wondering if Milk is really Oscar caliber or something else? From what we've seen so far, I'm going to say the latter, but only time will really tell.

Milk is directed by Gus Van Sant, of Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, and Elephant. The script was written by Dustin Lance Black, of The Journey of Jared Price and TV's "Big Love". Milk will be released sometime later this year from Focus Features.

Find more posts: First Look, Indies



Hey there, thanks for using my shots. I'd appreciate an attribution (as slashfilm did). Our blog (with the original photos I took) is here:

GayCities on Feb 11, 2008


How old are you, anyway? For saying that people dressed in 70s style or with 70s hair look like clowns, you must be very young indeed. For your information, these people look realistically like people looked in the 1970s. In fact, Hirsch looks so much like the actual young Cleve Jones, it's scary! I lived in this neighborhood back in the 70s. Where were you? Inside your mother's womb?

Zwoman on Feb 22, 2008


I designed Cleve Jones' website ( Take some time to look through his photo galleries. They're full of photos that I repaired from scans that I did showing Cleve and Milk together and separately. It's obvious that they did their homework to reproduce an accurate depiction.

Len on Apr 10, 2008


Wow. You're really going to suggest that "Finding Forrester" was one of the high marks of Gus Van Sant's work? How did you get a job writing about film?

N on May 25, 2008


Well said Zwoman

Lola on Oct 5, 2008


Wishing that "Uncle's in the movie biz", Malibu born and bred, 'daring renegade and outsider' Sean Penn finally STOP doing impersonations ---and START doing acting. Bad enough that we have to be subjected to this 70's show retread -after 40 million HIV deaths and 100 million infections worldwide. Anyway -acting -REAL acting involves character developement and revelation of the soul. What Penn gets away with is clever and sustained impersonation -i.e. mimickry -gesture and effect. ---See! ---I gotcha!

DR DTX on Nov 21, 2009

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