Sean Penn has sued Empire creator Lee Daniels over negative comparisons made in the media to the show's star, Terrence Howard.
In a $10 million suit filed on Tuesday, Penn claims that Daniels made "false and defamatory statements" about him while commenting on Howard's alleged history of abuse in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that was published in print and online last week. "That poor boy," THR quoted Daniels as saying, "[Terrence] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some f***in' demon... That's a sign of the times, of race, of where we are right now in America."
In response, the lawsuit reads: "Daniels has falsely asserted and/or implied that Penn is guilty of ongoing, continuous violence against women." The doc goes on to state: "...while [Penn] has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest."
Penn and Madonna were married from 1985-1989, during which time -- and years later -- tabloids would speculate on alleged troubles in their relationship. Penn did serve 33 days in prison in 1987 for assaulting a photographer.
"Sean Penn has been subjected to false and baseless attacks for years, and this is only the most recent example," Penn's lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, tells ET in a statement. "As asserted in the lawsuit, there are important issues at stake, including the malicious and reckless repetition of rumors and innuendo at the expense of others."
"She was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids," Howard, who was arrested following the incident, told the mag. "Her lawyer said it was a closed fist, but even slapping her was wrong."
As for separate allegations regarding an alleged incident in 2013 with his second wife (Michelle Ghent filed a lawsuit stating that he "punched the left side of her face"), Howard said he was acting in self-defense.
"She was trying to Mace me," Howard told Rolling Stone, "and you can't see anything so all you can do is try to bat somebody away, and I think that something caught her. But I wasn't trying to hit her."
Howard would wed and divorce a third time, but as ETonline reported earlier this week, the 46-year-old actor was spotted on Sunday cuddling with his ex, Mira Pak, backstage at the Emmys. The pair also wore their wedding rings as they sat together during the awards ceremony that evening.