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Sean Penn (1960)

Sean Justin Penn

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  Summary  

Sean Justin Penn is an American actor, screenwriter and film director, also known for his political and social activism. He is a two-time Academy Award winner for his roles in Mystic River and Milk , as well as the recipient of a Golden Globe Award for the former and a Screen Actors Guild Award for the latter.

Penn began his acting career in television with a brief appearance in a 1974 episode of Little House on the Prairie, directed by his father Leo Penn. Following his film debut in 1981's Taps and a diverse range of film roles in the 1980s, Penn emerged as a prominent leading actor with the 1995 drama film Dead Man Walking, for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination and the Best Actor Award at the Berlin Film Festival. Penn subsequently received another two Oscar nominations for Sweet and Lowdown and I Am Sam , before winning his first Academy Award for Best Actor in 2003 for Mystic River and a second one in 2008 for Milk. He has also won a Best Actor Award of the Cannes Film Festival for She's So Lovely , and two Best Actor Awards at the Venice Film Festival for Hurlyburly and 21 Grams .

Penn made his feature film directorial debut with 1991's The Indian Runner, followed by the drama film The Crossing Guard and the mystery film The Pledge . In 2002, Penn directed one of the 11 segments of 11'09"01 September 11, a compilation film made in response to the September 11 attacks. In 2007, Penn directed his fourth feature film Into the Wild, which garnered critical acclaim and two Academy Award nominations.

In addition to his film work, Penn is known for his political and social activism, most notably his criticism of the George W. Bush administration, his contact with the Presidents of Venezuela and Cuba, and his humanitarian work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Penn also attracted media attention for his previous marriages to pop icon Madonna and actress Robin Wright.

  Biography  

 early life
Penn was born in Los Angeles County, California, the middle son of actor and director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci). His older brother is musician Michael Penn. His younger brother, actor Chris Penn, died in 2006. His paternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Lithuania and Russia, while his mother is a Catholic of Italian and Irish descent. Penn was raised in a secular home and is an agnostic. He attended Santa Monica High School and began making short films with some of his childhood friends, including actors Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, who lived near his home.

 career
  Acting
Penn appeared in a 1974 episode of the Little House on the Prairie television series as a then blond-haired extra when his father, Leo, directed some of the episodes.

Penn launched his film career with the 1981 action-drama Taps, where he played a key role, as a military high school cadet, opposite protagonist Timothy Hutton. Tom Cruise also made one of his first film appearances, as another cadet. A year later, Penn appeared in the hit comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in the role of surfer-stoner Jeff Spicoli, with his character helping popularize the word "dude" in popular culture. In 1983, Penn appeared as Mick O'Brien, a troubled youth, in the drama Bad Boys. The role earned Penn favorable reviews and jump-started his career as a serious actor.

In 1985, Penn played Andrew Daulton Lee in the film The Falcon and the Snowman, which closely followed an actual criminal case. Lee was a former drug dealer by trade, convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and originally sentenced to life in prison, later being paroled in 1998. Penn later hired Lee as his personal assistant, partly because he wanted to reward Lee for allowing him to play Lee in the film; also, he was a firm believer in rehabilitation and thought Andrew Lee should be successfully reintegrated into society, since he was a free man again.

In 1986, he starred in the drama At Close Range, opposite Christopher Walken. The film featured his then-wife Madonna's single "Live to Tell". The music video for the song, which featured clips from the film, played heavily on MTV and helped promote the film. Penn stopped acting for a few years in the early 1990s, having been dissatisfied with the industry, and focused on making his directing debut.


Penn, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, has won the award twice. The Academy first recognized his work in nominating him for playing a racist murderer on death row in Tim Robbins' 1995 drama Dead Man Walking. Penn was nominated again for his comedic performance as an egotistical jazz guitarist in Woody Allen's 1999 release Sweet and Lowdown. He received his third nomination after portraying a mentally-handicapped father in 2001's I am Sam. Penn finally won for his role in Clint Eastwood's 2003 Boston crime-drama Mystic River. In 2004, he played a disturbed man bent on killing the president in The Assassination of Richard Nixon. He was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2004.

In 2006, he portrayed populist governor Willie Stark in an adaptation of the classic American novel All the King's Men, though the film was a critical and commercial failure. In November 2008, Penn earned rave reviews for his portrayal of real-life gay-rights icon and politician Harvey Milk in the biopic Milk and was nominated for best actor for the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards. The film also earned Penn his fifth nomination and second win for the Academy Award for Best Actor. In 2010 he starred as Joseph Wilson in Fair Game, a film adaptation of Valerie Plame's 2007 memoir. Penn co-starred with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in the drama The Tree of Life which won the Palme d'Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

  Directing
In 1991, Penn made his directorial debut with The Indian Runner, a film based on Bruce Springsteen's song "Highway Patrolman", from the Nebraska album. He also directed music videos, such as Shania Twain's "Dance with the One That Brought You" and Lyle Lovett's "North Dakota" in 1993, and Peter Gabriel's "The Barry Williams Show" in 2002. He has since directed three more films, all of which were well-received by critics: The Crossing Guard in 1995, The Pledge in 2001, and Into the Wild in 2007.

 personal life
Penn was engaged to actress Elizabeth McGovern, his co-star in 1984's Racing with the Moon. Penn's personal life began to attract media attention when he married pop star Madonna in 1985. The two starred in the panned and much-derided Shanghai Surprise, directed by Jim Goddard, and Madonna dedicated her third studio album True Blue to Penn, referring to him in the liner notes as "the coolest guy in the universe". The relationship was marred by violent outbursts against the press, including one incident for which he was arrested for assaulting a photographer on a film set; Penn was sentenced to 60 days in jail in mid-1987, of which he served 33 days. It is also alleged that when Penn discovered the paparazzo in his hotel room, he hung him by his ankles from the ninth-floor balcony. Later in the marriage, Penn was charged with felony domestic assault, a charge for which he pleaded to a misdemeanor. Penn and Madonna divorced in 1989.

He soon began a relationship with actress Robin Wright, and their first child – a daughter named Dylan Frances – was born in 1991. Their second child, a son whom they named Hopper Jack, was born in 1993. Penn and Wright married in 1996 and lived in Ross, California. The relationship went through on-and-off periods in the late 2000s . The couple filed for divorce in December 2007, but reconciled several months later, requesting a court dismissal of their divorce case. In April 2009, Penn filed for legal separation, only to withdraw the case once again when the couple reconciled in May. On August 12, 2009, Wright Penn filed for divorce again. The couple's divorce was finalized on July 22, 2010, with the couple reaching a private agreement on child and spousal support, division of assets, and custody over their underage son.

During a separation from Wright in the mid 1990s, Penn dated singer and songwriter Jewel. He was also the director of the original video for Jewel's hit song "You Were Meant for Me".

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Sean Penn", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.