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Sean Justin Penn (born August 17, 1960) is an American film actor and director, also known for being a political activist. 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.

Early life

Penn was born in Los Angeles County, Californiamarker, the son of Leo Penn, an actor and director, and Eileen Ryan (née Annucci), an actress. He has one living brother, musician Michael Penn. Another brother, actor Chris Penn, died in 2006. His paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuaniamarker and Russiamarker, while his mother is a Catholic of Italian and Irish descent. According to Penn's mother, Leo Penn may have had distant Spanish ancestry, as the family's surname was originally "Piñón". Penn was raised in a secular home and is an agnostic.

Acting career

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 film 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 in the action-drama. A year later, he appeared in the hit comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High (in the role of surfer-stoner Jeff Spicoli). Penn's portrayal of Spicoli was immensely popular and the film remained his most commercially successful work for many years. In 1983, Penn turned in one of his best early performances as Mick O'Brien, a troubled youth in the drama Bad Boys. It earned Penn favorable reviews and jump started his career as a serious actor.

In 1985, Penn gave a memorable performance in the role of Andrew Daulton Lee in 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 Unionmarker and was originally sentenced to life in prison. Lee was paroled in 1998. In an interview for the The Guardian in April, 2005, it was stated that Penn later hired Lee as his personal assistant, partly because he wanted to reward Lee for allowing him to play Lee in the film, and also because 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 was also based on a true story and gained positive reviews from critics. 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 has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times and won the award twice. The academy first recognized his work playing a racist murderer on death row in Tim Robbins' 1995 drama Dead Man Walking. Penn was noted in 1999 for his comedic performance as an egotistical jazz guitarist in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown. He received his third nomination in 2001 after portraying a mentally-handicapped father in I am Sam. In 2003, Penn finally won for his role in Clint Eastwood's Bostonmarker crime-drama Mystic River. In 2004, he played a disturbed man bent on killing the president in The Assassination of Richard Nixon. He received his fifth nomination and second win for his role as Harvey Milk in the 2008 film Milk. He was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2004.

Penn's interest in politics is reflected in some of his recent film roles. In 2006 he portrayed populist governor Willie Stark (based on Huey Long) 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.

Director

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" 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 supposedly engaged to actress Elizabeth McGovern, his co-star in 1984's Racing with the Moon, after which he dated Susan Sarandon. Penn's personal life began to attract media attention when he married pop star Madonna in 1985. 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 suggested that when Penn discovered the paparazzo in his hotel room, he hung him by his ankles from the ninth-floor balcony. Madonna dedicated her third studio album, True Blue to Penn, referring to him in the liner notes as "the coolest guy in the universe". 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 Robin Wright, and their first child, a daughter named Dylan Frances, was born in 1991. Their second child, a son named Hopper Jack, was born in 1993. Penn and Wright married in 1996 and lived in Ross, Californiamarker. The relationship has gone through on-and-off again periods in recent years. Divorce plans and separation have been announced, beginning in December 2007, and again in April 2009, only to be withdrawn, most recently in May 2009.. On August 12, 2009, Robin Wright Penn filed for divorce, declaring she has no plans to reconcile.

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".

Recently, Penn has been linked with model Jessica White.

Penn's younger brother, Chris, died from an enlarged heart in his Santa Monicamarker condominium on January 24, 2006.

Along with Johnny Depp, Mick Hucknall, and John Malkovich, Penn was a part-owner of the Parisianmarker restaurant-bar Man Ray.

Political and social causes

Penn has been active in supporting several political and social causes. On June 10, 2005, Penn made a visit to Iranmarker. Acting as a journalist on an assignment for the San Francisco Chronicle, he attended a Friday prayer at Tehran University. Later in 2005, Penn appeared at the ACLU of Northern California's annual Bill of Rights Day Celebration to present Sister Helen Prejean with the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award for her work opposing the death penalty.

On January 7, 2006, Penn was a special guest at a forum hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America. He was joined by author and media critic Norman Solomon, Democratic congressional candidate Charles Brown, and activist Cindy Sheehan. The "Out of Iraq Forum", which took place in Sacramento, Californiamarker, was organized to promote the anti-war movement calling for an end to the War in Iraq.

In August 2008, Penn made an appearance at one of Ralph Nader's "Open the Debates" Super Rallies. He protested the political exclusion of Nader and other third parties.

In October 2008, Penn traveled to Cubamarker, where he met with and interviewed President Raúl Castro.

Criticism of President Bush

Sean Penn
On October 18, 2002, Penn placed a US$56,000 advertisement in the Washington Post asking then President George W. Bush to end a cycle of violence. It was written as an open letter and referred to the planned attack on Iraq and the War on Terror. In the letter, Penn also criticized the Bush administration for its "deconstruction of civil liberties" and its "simplistic and inflammatory view of good and evil." Penn visited Iran briefly in December 2002.

This advertisement was cited as a primary reason for the development of his relationship with Venezuelanmarker president Hugo Chávez. Chávez used and read aloud an open letter Penn wrote to Bush in one of his televised speeches. The letter condemned the Iraq War, called for Bush to be impeached, and also called Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "villainously and criminally obscene people.". In August 2007, Penn met with Chávez in Caracasmarker for two hours, after which Chávez praised him for urging Americans to impeach Bush. Penn also visited a new film studio on the outskirts of Caracas, though he did not speak publicly.

On April 19, 2007, Penn appeared on The Colbert Report and had a "Meta-Free-Phor-All" versus Stephen Colbert that was judged by Robert Pinsky. This stemmed from some of Penn's criticisms of Bush. His exact quote was "We cower as you point your fingers telling us to support our troops. You and the smarmy pundits in your pocket those who bathe in the moisture of your soiled and blood-soaked underwear can take that noise and shove it." He won the contest with 10,000,000 points to Colbert's 1.

On December 7, 2007, Penn said he supported Ohiomarker Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich for U.S. President in 2008, and criticized Bush's handling of the Iraq war. Penn questioned whether Bush's twin daughters supported the war in Iraq.

Hurricane Katrina

In September 2005, Penn traveled to New Orleansmarker, Louisianamarker, to aid Hurricane Katrina victims. He was physically involved in rescuing people, although there was criticism that his involvement was a PR stunt as he hired a photographer to come along with his entourage.

Director Spike Lee interviewed Penn for his documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, about Hurricane Katrina.

LGBT Civil Rights

On February 22, 2009, Penn received the Best Actor Academy Award for the film Milk. In his acceptance speech, Penn said "...I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone!"

Filmography and awards

On December 18, 2006, Penn received the Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award from the Creative Coalition.

Actor

Year Film Role Notes
1981 Taps Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer film debut
1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High Jeff Spicoli
1983 Summerspell Buddy
Bad Boys Michael O'Brien
1984 Crackers Dillard
Racing with the Moon Henry 'Hopper' Nash/Lou
1985 The Falcon and the Snowman Daulton Lee
1986 At Close Range Brad Whitewood Jr.
Shanghai Surprise Glendon Wasey
1987 Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam Narrator
1988 Cool Blue Phil the Plumber uncredited
Colors Officer Danny McGavin
Judgment in Berlin Guenther X
1989 Casualties of War Sgt. Tony Meserve
We're No Angels Jim
1990 State of Grace Terry Noonan
1991 Schneeweißrosenrot Himself documentary
1992 Cruise Control Jeffrey short subject
1993 The Last Party Himself documentary
Carlito's Way David Kleinfeld Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1995 Dead Man Walking Matthew Poncelet Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor
Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Silver Bear for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role




1997 Loved Man on the Hill (Michael)
She's So Lovely Eddie Quinn Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor
U Turn Bobby Cooper
The Game Conrad Van Orton
Hugo Pool Strange Hitchhiker
1998 Hurlyburly Eddie Volpi Cup
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
The Thin Red Line 1st Sgt. Welsh
1999 Being John Malkovich Himself uncredited
Sweet and Lowdown Emmett Ray Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Chlotrudis Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy


2000 A Constant Forge Himself documentary
Up at the Villa Rowley Flint
Before Night Falls Cuco Sánchez
The Weight of Water Thomas Janes
2001 Dogtown and Z-Boys Narrator documentary
The Beaver Trilogy Groovin' Larry (segment Beaver Kid 2)
Scene Smoking: Cigarettes, Cinema & the Myth of Cool Himself documentary
See How They Run Himself documentary
I Am Sam Sam Dawson Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role


2003 It's All About Love Marciello
Mystic River Jimmy Markum Academy Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (also for 21 Grams)
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor (also for 21 Grams)
London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (also for 21 Grams)
Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama (also for 21 Grams)
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
















21 Grams Paul Rivers Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (also for Mystic River)
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor (also for Mystic River)
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (also for Mystic River)
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama (also for Mystic River)
Volpi Cup
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor






2004 The Assassination of Richard Nixon Samuel J. Bicke Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
2005 The Interpreter Tobin Keller
2006 All the King's Men Willie Stark
2008 Milk Harvey Milk Academy Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor (tied with Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler)
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Palm Springs International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Southeastern Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Male
Nominated — Irish Film Award People's Choice Award for Best International Actor
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture


















Witch Hunt Narrator documentary
2010 The Tree of Life Adult Jack in post-production
Fair Game Joseph Wilson in post-production


Director

Year Film Notes
1991 The Indian Runner Nominated — Locarno International Film Festival Golden Leopard
1995 The Crossing Guard Nominated — Golden Lion
2001 The Pledge Nominated — Golden Bear
Nominated — Bodil Award for Best Non-European Film
Nominated — Palme d'Or

2002 11'9"01 September 11 anthology short, segment "U.S.A."
UNESCO Award
Nominated — César Award for Best Film from the European Union

2007 Into the Wild Palm Springs International Film Festival Award for Best Director
Rome Film Fest Premiere Prize
São Paulo International Film Festival Best Foreign Language Film
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated — BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Writer
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated — Directors Guild of America Award for Best Director - Motion Picture
Nominated — Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Foreign Film - English Language
Nominated — Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay









References

  1. Jews Flop in Big Oscar Award Wins. Jewish Journal.com. 5 March 2004.
  2. Sean Penn Genealogy.
  3. When Sean's having fun, it's hard to imagine having more fun. Guardian Unlimited. April 8, 2005.
  4. Ciccone, Christopher (2008). Life with My Sister Madonna, Simon & Schuster, pp. 144-150. ISBN 1416587624.
  5. Somaiya, Ravi. Mister Congeniality. The Times. December 27, 2007.
  6. Penn, Sean. Sean Penn in Iran. San Francisco Chronicle. August 23, 2005.
  7. Bowles, Scott (18 Sept 2006). Sean Penn plays politics. USA Today.
  8. James, Ian. Sean Penn Praised by Venezuela's Chavez. Breitbart.com. August 2, 2007.
  9. An Open Letter to the President...Four and a Half Years Later Huffington Post.com. March 24, 2007.
  10. Many celebrities have helped with New Orleans recovery efforts. International Herald Tribune. December 14, 2007.
  11. Penn's rescue attempt springs a leak. The Sydney Morning Herald. September 5, 2005.
  12. http://www.mahalo.com/sean-penn-oscar-speech
  13. The Creative Coalition Announces Presenters for 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award and 2006 Spotlight Awards. The Creative Coalition. December 2006.


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