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Sean Penn

Sean Penn

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Also Known As: Sean Justin Penn Died:
Born: August 17, 1960 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Burbank, California, USA Profession: actor, screenwriter, producer, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

2008, Penn returned to screens in the title role of "Milk," Gus Van Sant's biopic about influential gay activist and San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk. Only weeks after its release, he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, which was soon followed by a win at the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. He would go on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in "Milk."From there, Penn played former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson, whose CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), is outed for political reasons by George W. Bushâ¿¿s administration in Doug Limanâ¿¿s hailed political thriller "Fair Game" (2010). He went on to reunite with Terrence Malick for the reclusive directorâ¿¿s existential drama, "The Tree of Life" (2011), where he played an adrift older man who reminisces about life with his father (Brad Pitt) in the 1960s. Later that year, he delivered another offbeat performance, this time playing a retired goth rocker who looks for his dead fatherâ¿¿s Auschwitz tormentor in Italian director Paolo Sorrentinoâ¿¿s comic drama "This Must Be the Place" (2011). Of course, Penn did not go very long without being the subject of tabloid headlines. In...

2008, Penn returned to screens in the title role of "Milk," Gus Van Sant's biopic about influential gay activist and San Francisco politician, Harvey Milk. Only weeks after its release, he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, which was soon followed by a win at the 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. He would go on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in "Milk."

From there, Penn played former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson, whose CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), is outed for political reasons by George W. Bushâ¿¿s administration in Doug Limanâ¿¿s hailed political thriller "Fair Game" (2010). He went on to reunite with Terrence Malick for the reclusive directorâ¿¿s existential drama, "The Tree of Life" (2011), where he played an adrift older man who reminisces about life with his father (Brad Pitt) in the 1960s. Later that year, he delivered another offbeat performance, this time playing a retired goth rocker who looks for his dead fatherâ¿¿s Auschwitz tormentor in Italian director Paolo Sorrentinoâ¿¿s comic drama "This Must Be the Place" (2011). Of course, Penn did not go very long without being the subject of tabloid headlines. In 2010, after finalizing his divorce with Wright early that year, he caused an uproar in the British media for his remarks about colonialism directed at the United Kingdom over the ongoing dispute with the Falkland Islands. But Penn did display his humanitarian side by co-founding the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which helped thousands of victims from the catastrophic earthquake in 2010 and led to his appointment as Haitiâ¿¿s Ambassador-at-Large in 2012, becoming the first non-Haitian to ever hold the post.

Penn continued his screen career with a key role as real-life mobster Mickey Cohen in "Gangster Squad" (2013), then co-starred as a photojournalist in Ben Stiller's romantic-adventure fantasy "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (2013). His next screen role came in the French thriller "The Gunman" (2015), in which he starred opposite Javier Bardem and Jasmine Trinca.

screen to play a drifter whose paranoia increases when he becomes stranded in a desert town in Oliver Stone's "U-Turn" (1997). Penn's open criticism of Stone's talent raised eyebrows, but when he vocalized his desire to work with famously infrequent film director Terrence Malick, the director responded by giving Penn a headlining role in his adaptation of "The Thin Red Line" (1998). Opening at the same time as Malick's WWII saga was the film version of Rabe's "Hurlyburly," an ensemble piece dominated by Penn's powerhouse performance as a Hollywood agent permanently wired on coke and weed. He won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Actor for this lesser-seen effort.

Despite rumblings from the set that Penn did not want to be there, the actor gave a winning performance as the brash, mostly unlikable jazz guitarist at the center of Woody Allen's Depression-set comedy, "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999), a role that garnered his second Academy Award nomination as Best Actor and marked his second no-show at the festivities. Finally setting aside pronouncements that he was going to retire from acting at any moment, Penn remained active before the cameras with roles in Phillip Haas' adaptation of Somerset Maugham's "Up in the Villa" (2000), Julian Schnabel's art-house rendering of Cuban p t and novelist Reinaldo Arenas' "Before Night Falls" (2000) and Kathryn Bigelow's "The Weight of Water" (2000). He returned to the director's chair with "The Pledge" (2001), a thriller starring Jack Nicholson that earned respectful reviews. Later that year, Penn garnered a third Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his work as a mentally-challenged man seeking custody of his young daughter (Dakota Fanning) in "I Am Sam," a surprisingly treacly and audience-pandering effort from the generally edgy Penn.

Lest Penn's followers fear that this clichéd, heart-tugging melodrama signaled a shift towards mainstream Hollywood, the dyed-in-the-wool outsider reasserted his position by launching a series of political commentaries on the Bush administration and its threat to invade Iraq. He began by taking out costly full page ads ⿿ open letters, essentially ⿿ in The Washington Post and The New York Times which begged the president to "help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror." The eerily prescient statement was followed by the actor's visit to Iraq in December of 2002 and a publishing of his journalistic observations in his local newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle. In the meantime, Penn returned to his ferocious onscreen territory at the invitation of Clint Eastwood, who directed Penn in the Boston-set crime drama "Mystic River" (2003), where he played a man consumed with rage over his daughter's murder and enlists childhood friends (Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins) in the homicide investigation. Penn's trademark intensity was finally recognized with wins from the Golden Globes as well as the Academy Awards, though his first visit to the Oscars was not without feather-ruffling drama, as Penn's defense of Jude Law (following a criticism in jest by host Chris Rock) was picked up as further evidence of the actor's exhausting seriousness.

Penn delivered yet another virtuosic big screen turn in "21 Grams" (2003), where he played a dying professor who receives a heart transplant that consumes him with guilt. That role also resulted in a flurry of nominations and wins on the festival circuit and accolades from many film critics. Penn topped himself yet again with "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" (2004), in which he played an emotionally and socially disconnected furniture salesman whose tenuous grip on sanity slips away when he plots to highjack an airliner and crash it into the Nixon White House. In 2005, Penn made a journalistic visit to Iran and again reported on his layman's observations for The Chronicle, and followed with a guest speaker spot at the "Out of Iraq Forum" hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America. That same year, the passionate activist was on the scene in a drowned New Orleans after the decimation of the region by Hurricane Katrina, rescuing people and pets by boat faster than the National Guard had managed, openly expressing his disgust at the slow national response later in interviews. Further demonstrating his growing interest in politics, Penn took a starring role in the Sydney Pollack-directed thriller "The Interpreter" (2005), playing a federal agent assigned to protect a U.N. translator (Nicole Kidman). That international blockbuster trounced the remake of "All the King's Men" (2006), a plodding fictionalized chronicle of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long starring Penn and based on Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize novel.

After weathering some backlash for a journey to Venezuela to meet with controversial president Hugo Chavez â¿¿ to say nothing of dealing with the unexpected death in January 2006 of younger brother, Chris at age 40 from cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart, Penn unveiled "Into the Wild" (2007), his fourth feature directorial effort and among the top-grossing of his independent film offerings. Penn adapted the screenplay from Jon Krakauer's fact-based book about an idealistic college graduate (Emile Hirsch) who drifts around the country in search of an authentic, free lifestyle, finally settling in the wilds of Alaska. Penn was honored multiple times for his successful adaptation of the challenging story, which often relied on Hirsch's lone screen presence and no dialogue, and earned the director nominations from the Director's Guild of America and the Writer's Guild of America, in addition to multiple Best Director wins at several international film festivals. Following tabloid gossip over his divorce filing with Wright-Penn at the end of 2007 and subsequent withdrawal in the spring ofmpressive i

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  September 11 (2002) Director (Episode 10)
3.
  Pledge, The (2001) Director
4.
  Crossing Guard, The (1995) Director
5.
  Indian Runner, The (1991) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Gangster Squad (2013)
4.
6.
 Fair Game (2010)
7.
 Witch Hunt (2008)
8.
9.
 Milk (2008)
10.
 Persepolis (2007)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Apprenticed for two years with the Group Repertory Theatre in Los Angeles
1979:
Made professional acting debut on CBS series "Barnaby Jones"
1981:
Made Broadway debut in "Heartland" (show closed after two months)
1981:
Landed supporting role in CBS movie "The Killing of Randy Webster"
1981:
Made film acting debut in "Taps"; played a rebellious cadet at a military school
1983:
Returned to Broadway to co-star with Val Kilmer, Jackie Earle Haley, and Kevin Bacon in "The Slab Boys"
1983:
Earned favorable reviews as a troubled youth in "Bad Boys"
1986:
Starred opposite then-wife Madonna in misfire "Shanghai Surprise"
1986:
Acted with brother Christopher in "At Close Range"; mother Eileen Ryan played their grandmother
1988:
Directed by father Leo in "Judgment in Berlin" (shown on TV as "Escape to Freedom")
1988:
Acted in the Los Angeles stage production of David Rabe's "Hurlyburly"
1989:
First film with director Brian De Palma, "Casualties of War"; scripted by Rabe
1990:
First film with future wife Robin Wright, "State of Grace"
1993:
Returned to the screen in a supporting role in De Palma's "Carlito's Way"
1993:
Formed Clyde Is Hungry Productions
1995:
Producing debut, "The Crossing Guard"; starred Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston; Penn also wrote and directed
1997:
Co-starred with Robin Wright Penn in "She's So Lovely"; directed by Nick Cassavetes from a script by the late John Casavetes
1997:
Executive produced the Los Angeles stage production of "Remembrance" starring his parents
1998:
Reprised his stage role of Eddie for the screen version of "Hurlyburly"; fifth film with wife
1998:
Acted in Terrence Malick's return to directing after an absence of 20 years, "The Thin Red Line"
2000:
Acted in Kathryn Bigelow's "The Weight of Water"
2000:
Made a cameo appearance as a Cuban peasant in Julian Schnabel's "Before Night Falls"
2000:
Returned to stage acting opposite Nick Nolte in Sam Shepard's play "The Late Henry Moss"
2001:
Narrated the documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys"; screened at Sundance (released theatrically in U.S. in 2002)
2001:
Directed the feature film "The Pledge" starring Jack Nicholson
2001:
Cast in recurring guest role on hit NBC sitcom "Friends"
2001:
Starred as a mentally challenged man fighting for custody of his daughter in "I Am Sam"; earned third Best Actor Oscar nomination
2002:
Played small role in the romance "It's All About Love"
2004:
Cast opposite Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle, and Jack Thompson in "The Assassination of Richard Nixon," based on a true story about a man who tried to hijack a jet and crash it into the White House during Nixon's second term
2005:
Starred opposite Nicole Kidman in Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter"
2006:
Played corrupt politician Willie Stark in big-screen adaptation of the Robert Penn Warren novel "All the King's Men"
2010:
Portrayed Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame's husband in Doug Liman's "Fair Game"
2011:
Cast as the grown-up version of Jack in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"
2013:
Portrayed gang leader Mickey Cohen in crime drama "Gangster Squad"; film reunited him with "Milk" co-star Josh Brolin
2013:
Co-starred opposite Ben Stiller in fantasy comedy "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."
2015:
Starred in French thriller "The Gunman."
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Santa Monica High School: Santa Monica , California -
Santa Monica Community College: Santa Monica , California -

Notes

"Some of my reactions to acting are very negative, and take me places I no longer really want to go." --Sean Penn, quoted in Details, November 1995.

"You can't get paid $20 million for the kind of movies I want to do. There've been a couple of times when I've gotten the offer to do the odd one that'll make the bank big forever. But you start on page one of the script, knowing what the money is, and you're praying that you're gonna find some reason to do it ... You can't find a reason ... I tried to watch 'Independence Day' last night, because it was on cable. I thought it was a big ridiculous crock of sh--." --Penn quoted in Entertainment Weekly, August 8, 1997.

"You could have called 'U-Turn' 'Dr. Dolittle', because being able to talk to the director was like talking to a pig. And I think that was my greatest accomplishment on that movie. For seven whole hellacious weeks, I was able to communicate with a pig. I asked myself many times, What the hell am I doing out here in the desert with Oliver Stone?" --Penn to Lynn Hirschberg in The New York Times Magazine, December 27, 1998.

"When I started out, I thought anything was possible, but now I realize the studios don't know anything. These are not literary minds. They don't recognize anything that's not on their computer. Every single person who works for the studios is stupid. I've never heard an intelligent comment on a script or a movie. Not one. It makes you angry." --Penn to The New York Times Magazine, December 27, 1998.

"I saw 'Snake Eyes' last night. It's not just that movie, it's most movies. As damaged as I am, as reckless as I've been, I never murdered my own 'voice.' I think actors s--t on their profession all the time. They can't do a pure movie again, because they carry so much baggage." --Penn quoted in Newsweek, December 21, 1998.

"Frankly, some of the things I was despised for I take complete credit for. There were times I did things in an effort to be helpful to someone else and got caught in the middle of that situation and took heat. There were other times when, through arrogance, you take pride in getting away with things like abusing alcohol. At a certain point you realize it's not giving you much back, then it gets tiring. Then suddenly it comes back one more night and it makes you feel alive one more time. It's really about where your energy is coming from. If the energy comes from anger or from mental health, it's all going to feed the same beast. I had allowed myself to sometimes be fierce in my arrogance, probably still do sometimes. But a lot of the things I got in trouble for, all it took was one pretty princess getting killed in a tunnel and everybody's feeling about it was different." --Penn to Jay Carr in The Boston Globe, December 20, 1998.

"I remember [director] Larry Kasdan did a speech at AFI [American Film Institute] and he said, 'Movies are powerful medicine and the money's good. It gives us comfortable lives ... But if you're in this business just for the money, I'm against you.' Well, I'm against it, too. One of the reasons people sell out so quickly is because even the talented think they're frauds. It's a culture that doesn't encourage people to believe in the work they do. You're told to second-guess yourself all the time. That's where I think a little hostility and arrogance can save you. And I've never been lacking for either." --Penn quoted in USA Today, January 22, 1999.

''The accusations about my lack of patriotism -- I could smell that coming a mile away, way before I went to Iraq,'' he says. ''You know ahead of time if you're being manipulated. My eyes were pretty well open.'' So why'd he go? Penn starts off with a sentimentality that people rarely grant him: ''If there was a single mission I had, it was 'Okay, I know there are kids in Iraq just like my kids. I just need to see them before I speak to [the issues], before I confirm all of the things I feel we've been lied to about''---Penn talking about his trip to Baghdad before the war, Entertainment Weekly November 28, 2003

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Pam Springsteen. Sister of Bruce Springsteen.
companion:
Elizabeth McGovern. Actor. Met on set of "Racing With the Moon"; engaged c. 1983-84; separated in 1984.
companion:
Susan Sarandon. Actor. Together briefly in 1984; later co-starred together in "Dead Man Walking" (1995).
wife:
Madonna. Singer, actor. Born on August 16, 1958; married on August 16, 1985; divorced in 1989; acted together in "Shanghai Surprise" (1986); Penn does not refer to her by name in interviews but calls her "the first wife".
wife:
Robin Wright. Actor. Born on April 8, 1966; met in 1987 but did not become romantically involved until after acting together in "State of Grace" (1990); had stormy relationship, separating in 1995 and reuniting in early 1996; married on April 27, 1996; mother of Penn's two children; formerly married to actor Dane Witherspoon.
companion:
Jewel. Singer, actor. No longer together; born c. 1974.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Leo Penn. Director, actor. Blacklisted during the 1950s; met wife when he took over for Jason Robards as Hickey in NYC production of "The Iceman Cometh" in the late 1950s; died on September 5, 1998 at the age of 77.
mother:
Eileen Ryan. Actor. Gave up a flourishing stage career to raise her sons; resumes acting career in the late 1980s, appearing in films like "Parenthood" (1989), Penn's "The Indian Runner" (1991), and "Magnolia".
brother:
Michael Penn. Singer, songwriter musician, actor. Born on August 1, 1958; wrote score for "Boogie Nights"; married to singer-songwriter Aimee Mann.
brother:
Christopher Penn. Actor. Born on October 10, 1965; acted together in "At Close Range".
daughter:
Dylan Francis Penn. Born on April 13, 1991 in Los Angeles; mother, Robin Wright.
son:
Hopper Jack Penn. Born on August 6, 1993; mother, Robin Wright; named after Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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