Sean Penn has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Lee Daniels over comments the Empire co-creator made comparing Penn to known woman abuser Terrence Howard, Deadline reports.

In a recent Hollywood Reporter interview, Daniels discussed the controversy surrounding Howard's history of abuse allegations, including incidents the Empire star has admitted to and plead guilty to committing. "[Howard] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some f----in' demon," Daniels said. "That's a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America."

"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 lawsuit states.

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"As a result of Penn's status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks," the suit continues. "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 suit also alleges that Daniels' remarks about Howard, which "seems to condone Howard's reported misconduct," are merely part of a "misguided campaign to profit and further bolster and brand his show Empire," which premieres on Wednesday.