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The reason Sean Penn is suing Lee Daniels for $10M

Sean Penn is taking aim at Lee Daniels.

On Tuesday, the 55-year-old actor filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against the "Empire" creator in New York Supreme Court, claiming Daniels used "false and defamatory" language to suggest Penn has abused women. Daniels made the comments in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter while talking about actor Terrence Howard.

"[Terrence] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some f--in' demon," Daniels said while talking about Howard's latest legal issues. "That's a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America."

According to THR, the first paragraph of Penn's complaint, states, "As a result of Penn's status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks. But Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels' defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions."

The lawsuit continues: "Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he 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."

The Daily Beast reported earlier this year that in 1989, Madonna filed a police report against the actor alleging domestic violence, but later dropped the charges. In the '80s, Penn got into an altercation wiht a man he thought was trying to kiss Madonna in a nightclub, according to The Associated Press.

Howard has been in the headlines over his recent divorce. Last week, Rolling Stone released a far-ranging interview with the "Hustle and Flow" actor in which he addressed hitting women.