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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

Hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation, Sean Penn earned multiple Oscar nominations for his onscreen intensity and proved a powerful filmmaking talent at the helm of his own character-driven dramas like "The Crossing Guard" (1995) and "The Pledge" (2001) - all the while remaining the ultimate Hollywood outsider. Penn originally broke through with his iconic turn as stoned surfer Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982), but he established himself as a serious actor with "Bad Boys" (1983), only to be hounded by paparazzi due to his high-profile, short-lived marriage to Madonna, which resulted in the box-office dud "Shanghai Surprise" (1985) and violent run-ins with photographers. He entered a long and slightly less turbulent marriage to Robin Wright, while earning acclaim as a smarmy lawyer in "Carlito's Way" (1993) and a death row inmate in "Dead Man Walking" (1995). After "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999) and "I Am Sam" (2001), Penn won the Oscar for his portrayal of a streetwise father out to avenge his daughter's murder in "Mystic River" (2003). Meanwhile, he traded his bad-boy persona for political outspokenness, which included calling for the impeachment of President Bush...

Hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation, Sean Penn earned multiple Oscar nominations for his onscreen intensity and proved a powerful filmmaking talent at the helm of his own character-driven dramas like "The Crossing Guard" (1995) and "The Pledge" (2001) - all the while remaining the ultimate Hollywood outsider. Penn originally broke through with his iconic turn as stoned surfer Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982), but he established himself as a serious actor with "Bad Boys" (1983), only to be hounded by paparazzi due to his high-profile, short-lived marriage to Madonna, which resulted in the box-office dud "Shanghai Surprise" (1985) and violent run-ins with photographers. He entered a long and slightly less turbulent marriage to Robin Wright, while earning acclaim as a smarmy lawyer in "Carlito's Way" (1993) and a death row inmate in "Dead Man Walking" (1995). After "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999) and "I Am Sam" (2001), Penn won the Oscar for his portrayal of a streetwise father out to avenge his daughter's murder in "Mystic River" (2003). Meanwhile, he traded his bad-boy persona for political outspokenness, which included calling for the impeachment of President Bush while rankling conservatives for hobnobbing with reviled world leaders. Still, Penn continued to deliver onscreen with "Milk" (2008), though his refusal to play the Hollywood game earned him an unshakable reputation as hostile and arrogant. Despite such opinions, no one could deny that Penn's work was consistently of the highest caliber, making him a modern-day Marlon Brando.

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)

3.
 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

:
Raised in San Fernando Valley, CA
1970:
Family settled in Malibu, CA; became friends with Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and Rob Lowe
:
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
1982:
Breakthrough feature role, playing stoner Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"
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"
1985:
Delivered standout performance as a desperate, amoral, drugged-out kid in "The Falcon and the Snowman"
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:
Starred opposite Robert Duvall as L.A. street cops in "Colors"; film directed by Dennis Hopper
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"
1991:
Film directing and writing debut, "Indian Runner"; claimed to have retired from acting
1993:
Returned to the screen in a supporting role in De Palma's "Carlito's Way"
1993:
Formed Clyde Is Hungry Productions
1995:
Portrayed a killer on death row opposite Susan Sarandon in critically acclaimed "Dead Man Walking"; received first Best Actor Academy Award nomination
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"
1999:
Cast as the world's second best guitar player in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown"; received second Best Actor Academy Award nomination
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"
2003:
Starred in emotional drama "Mystic River," directed by Clint Eastwood; received a SAG nomination for Best Actor
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"
2007:
Directed "Into the Wild," a drama based on 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, about the life and death of Christopher McCandless; also adapted the screenplay; earned DGA nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
2008:
Portrayed San Francisco city supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant directed biopic "Milk"; earned Best Actor Independent Spirit, SAG and Golden Globe nominations
2010:
Co-founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization after the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake
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
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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