Aug. 17th, 1960
Santa Monica, California, USA
5' 9 1/2"
Sean Penn's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints, California-born Sean Penn is the second son of actress Eileen Ryan & director Leo Penn, also brother of Chris Penn (I). He first appeared in roles as strong-headed or unruly youths such as the military cadet defending his academy against closure in Taps (1981), then as fast-talking surfer stoner Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).
Fans and critics were enthused about his obvious talent and he next contributed a stellar performance alongside Timothy Hutton in the Cold War spy thriller The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), followed by a teaming with icy Christopher Walken in the chilling At Close Range (1986). The youthful Sean then paired up with his then wife, pop diva Madonna in the woeful, and painful, Shanghai Surprise (1986), which was savaged by the critics, but Sean bounced back with a great job as a hot-headed young cop in Colors (1988), gave another searing performance as a US soldier in Vietnam committing atrocities in Casualties of War (1989) and appeared alongside Robert De Niro in the uneven comedy We're No Angels (1989). However, the 1990s was the decade in which Sean really got noticed by critics as a mature, versatile and accomplished actor, with a string of dynamic performances in first-class films.
Almost unrecognisable with frizzy hair and thin rimmed glasses, Penn was simply brilliant as corrupt lawyer David Kleinfeld in the Brian De Palma gangster movie Carlito's Way (1993) and he was still in trouble with authority as a Death Row inmate pleading with a caring nun to save his life in Dead Man Walking (1995), for which he received his first Oscar nomination. Sean then played the brother of wealthy Michael Douglas (I), involving him in a mind-snapping scheme in The Game (1997) and also landed the lead role of Sgt. Eddie Walsh in the star-studded anti-war film The Thin Red Line (1998), before finishing the 1990s playing an offbeat jazz musician (and scoring another Oscar nomination) in Sweet and Lowdown (1999).
The gifted and versatile Sean had also moved into directing, with the quirky but interesting The Indian Runner (1991), about two brothers with vastly opposing views on life, and in 1995 he directed Jack Nicholson in The Crossing Guard (1995). Both films received overall positive reviews from critics. Moving into the new century, Sean remained busy in front of the cameras with even more outstanding work: a mentally disabled father fighting for custody of his seven-year-old daughter (and receiving a third Oscar nomination) for I Am Sam (2001); an anguished father seeking revenge for his daughter's murder in the gut-wrenching Clint Eastwood-directed Mystic River (2003) (for which he won the Oscar as Best Actor); a mortally ill college professor in 21 Grams (2003) and a possessed businessman in The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004).
Certainly Sean Penn is one of Hollywood's most controversial, progressive and gifted actors.
- (April 2009) Filed for divorce from 'Robin Wright Penn' (qv), a year after they reconciled after she had filed for divorce in late 2007.
- He and his family moved out of Hollywood to Marin County, north of San Francisco because he was "tired of a lot of aspects of Los Angeles, the main one being raising the kids in a company town".
- (October 1997) Ranked #76 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
- Brother-in-law of 'Aimee Mann' (qv).
- He and 'Robin Wright Penn' (qv) lived together from 1991 until their marriage in 1996. They had two children before their marriage.
- Is very good friends with 'Robert De Niro' (qv). The two share the same birthday and would often throw a joint birthday party together.
- Briefly engaged to actress-photographer 'Pamela Springsteen' (qv), sister of 'Bruce Springsteen' (qv). The two were both in _Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)_ (qv).
- Quit smoking for a while on his 40th birthday for health reasons. Prior to that, he was known as one of Hollywood's heaviest smokers, smoking at least four packs of cigarettes a day.