Oscar winner Sean Penn is suing filmmaker and "Empire" co-creator Lee Daniels for defamation.

Penn, 55, filed the $10 million suit Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, The Hollywood Reporter said, alleging Daniels' statements in an interview with that magazine compared him with "Empire" star Terrence Howard. Howard is the target of numerous complaints and two arrests stemming from accusations of hitting women.

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According to the lawsuit, Daniels, 55, told the magazine Howard "ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some [expletive] demon."

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Howard, 46, has had restraining orders for violence placed on him by his two ex-wives, and was charged with assault and harassment in Philadelphia in 2005 after hitting a woman and her fiance.Additionally, he was arrested in 2001 for assaulting first wife Lori McCommas. In both instances, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

Penn's suit says the actor for years has 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."

A spokeswoman for Daniels had no comment.