Hollywood producer Steve Bing is suing Sean Penn for $14m (€13m), accusing the “crazy and irrational” actor of attempted extortion.
Bing alleges that Penn demanded $9m (€8.3m) from his company after being denied a promised part in the film Why Men Shouldn’t Marry, even though no contract had been signed.
“Penn’s representatives menacingly warned Bing that Penn could not be controlled, and that he was crazy and irrational,” according to the lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
The actor said if he was not paid he would publicly claim he had been rejected for the role because of his opposition to war in Iraq, the suit alleged.
The Dead Man Walking star travelled to Baghdad in mid-December to express his opposition to a US attack.
Bing said he invested millions of pounds in the film, including hiring Woody Allen to star for $1.6m (€1.4m) .
But Penn told his agent to delay finalising a deal with the Shangri-La Entertainment production company, with the aim of getting paid under a “pay or play” provision, the suit alleges.
A “pay or play” clause ensures that actors are still paid even if the movie is not made, or they are replaced before or during filming.
Bing 37, last year agreed to pay £1.8m (€2.7m) for the upbringing of his son by Liz Hurley after DNA tests proved he was the father.