Hollywood heavyweights Sean Penn and Oliver Stone both released statements following the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday. Penn was a longtime supporter of the late president who lost his fight with an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer at 58.
"Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had," Penn said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chavez and the people of Venezuela."
The Oscar-winning actor, who's known for his political and social activism, first met Chavez in Venezuela in 2007. Penn joined Chavez at an election rally in August 2012 and attended a candlelight vigil for him in Bolivia in December 2012.
"He's one of the most important forces we've had on this planet, and I'll wish him nothing but that great strength he has shown over and over again," Penn said at the vigil. "I do it in love, and I do it in gratitude."
In 2009, Stone directed South of the Border, a film about the rise of progressive governments in Latin America featuring Chavez. He went even further with his praises of the controversial president.
"I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place," Stone told The Hollywood Reporter. "Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chavez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned."