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Jewel: I Kept Sean Penn Relationship Quiet Because I Didn’t Want to Be Known for Who I Was Dating

Brains and talent! Jewel tells Us Weekly that she kept her bombshell revelation about dating Sean Penn in the ‘90s under wraps all these years because she wanted to make a name for herself first based on her talent — and not as Hollywood arm candy.

“[When] Sean and I were dating, I wasn’t famous at all, and nobody knew that we were dating,” the 41-year-old singer tells Us. “I kept it very quiet because I was very determined not to be known for who I was dating. If I ever got known, I’d rather it be for my talent and my mind and my thoughts.”

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Earlier this year, the “Foolish Games” singer revealed in her new memoir, Never Broken, that she and Penn, 55, began dating after the actor reached out to her to write a song for a film he’d written.

“One day my dad came to find me, saying, ‘Jewel, you must be getting some kooky fans out there in the Lower 48. Some guy just prank called and said he was Sean Penn,’” she writes. “‘No sh-t,’ I said, chuckling. ‘What did you do?’”


Her father told her he’d hung up on Penn, who only called again, determined to work with her after seeing her perform on Conan O’Brien’s show.

The pair attended the Venice Film Festival together that year, but the singer says she felt like a fish out of water among Tinseltown’s elite.

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“I grew up in the woods in Alaska, so I didn’t know who Roman Polanski was, or a lot of celebrities,” she tells Us. “So he kind of had to …describe everything for me. And I didn’t really get starstruck because I didn’t know who they were to get starstruck by.” 

Her first album, Pieces of You, debuted that same year, but it took a while for the eventual hit album to get noticed.

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See what else Jewel remembers best from her pre-fame days in the video above, including encounters with Bob Dylan, her upcoming folk album, Picking Up the Pieces, and her parents’ own run-in with fame via reality series Alaska: The Last Frontier.

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