Sean Penn

Actor, Director, Screenwriter
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 ... Read more »
Born: 08/16/1960 in Burbank, California, USA

Filmography

Actor (82)

Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey 2015 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Gunman 2015 (Movie)

JIm Terrier (Actor)

Gangster Squad 2013 (Movie)

Mickey Cohen (Actor)

Person To Person 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Actor

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2013 (Movie)

Sean O'Connell (Actor)

This Must Be the Place 2012 (Movie)

Cheyenne (Actor)

Guys Choice 2011 2010 - 2011 (TV Show)

Actor

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune 2011 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Tree of Life 2011 (Movie)

Jack (Actor)

Fair Game 2010 (Movie)

Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Actor)

Real Time with Bill Maher 2010 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

The People Speak 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

Milk 2008 (Movie)

Harvey Milk (Actor)

VH1 Rock Honors: The Who 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

What Just Happened? 2008 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Iconoclasts 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Persepolis 2007 (Movie)

Marjane's Father Ebi (Voice)

The Late Show With David Letterman 2007 (Tv Show)

Guest

Witch Hunt 2007 (Movie)

(Narrator)

All The King's Men 2006 (Movie)

Willie Stark (Actor)

The 77th Annual Academy Awards 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

The Interpreter 2005 (Movie)

Tobin Keller (Actor)

It's All About Love 2004 (Movie)

Marciello (Actor)

Ninth November Night 2004 (Movie)

(Actor)

Pauly Shore is Dead 2004 (Movie)

Himself--Cameo (Actor)

The 9th Annual Critics' Choice Awards 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

The Assassination of Richard Nixon 2004 (Movie)

Samuel Bicke (Actor)

This So-Called Disaster 2004 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Two and a Half Men 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

21 Grams 2003 (Movie)

Paul Rivers (Actor)

Dennis Hopper: The Decisive Moments 2003 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Mystic River 2003 (Movie)

Jimmy Markum (Actor)

mtvICON: Metallica 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

Dogtown and Z-Boys 2002 (Movie)

(Narrator)

The Weight of Water 2002 (Movie)

Thomas Janes (Actor)

Friends 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

I Am Sam 2001 (Movie)

Sam Dawson (Actor)

Before Night Falls 2000 (Movie)

Cuco Sanchez (Actor)

Up At the Villa 2000 (Movie)

Rowley Flint (Actor)

Inside the Actors Studio 1999 (Tv Show)

Interviewee

Sweet and Lowdown 1999 (Movie)

Emmet Ray (Actor)

Ellen 1997 - 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

Hurlyburly 1998 (Movie)

Eddie (Actor)

Loved 1998 (Movie)

Michael--Man on the Hill (Actor)

The Thin Red Line 1998 (Movie)

1st Sergeant Welsh (Actor)

Beaver Trilogy 1997 (Movie)

Groovin' Larry (Actor)

She's So Lovely 1997 (Movie)

Eddie (Actor)

The Game 1997 (Movie)

Conrad (Actor)

U-Turn 1997 (Movie)

Bobby Cooper (Actor)

Sean Penn Talking With David Frost 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The MTV Interview 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Dead Man Walking 1995 (Movie)

Matthew Poncelet (Actor)

Robbie Robertson: Going Home 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Carlito's Way 1993 (Movie)

David Kleinfeld (Actor)

The Last Party 1993 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

State of Grace 1990 (Movie)

Terry (Actor)

Casualties of War 1989 (Movie)

Meserve (Actor)

We're No Angels 1989 (Movie)

Jim (Actor)

Colors 1988 (Movie)

Danny McGavin (Actor)

Dear America: Letters Homes From Vietnam 1988 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Judgment in Berlin 1988 (Movie)

Guenther X (Actor)

At Close Range 1986 (Movie)

Brad Whitewood Jr (Actor)

Shanghai Surprise 1986 (Movie)

Glendon Wasey (Actor)

The Falcon and the Snowman 1985 (Movie)

Daulton Lee (Actor)

Crackers 1984 (Movie)

Dillard (Actor)

Racing With the Moon 1984 (Movie)

Henry "Hopper" Nash (Actor)

Bad Boys 1983 (Movie)

Mick O'Brien (Actor)

Fast Times At Ridgemont High 1982 (Movie)

Jeff Spicoli (Actor)

Taps 1981 (Movie)

Alex Dwyer (Actor)

Conan (Tv Show)

Guest

Hugo Pool (TV Show)

Actor

The Last Photograph (Movie)

(Actor)
Producer (8)

The Gunman 2015 (Movie)

(Producer)

Love Hate Love 2010 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Into the Wild 2007 (Movie)

(Producer)

Witch Hunt 2007 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Pledge 2001 (Movie)

(Producer)

Loved 1998 (Movie)

(Producer)

She's So Lovely 1997 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

The Crossing Guard 1995 (Movie)

(Producer)
Director (7)

The Last Face 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Into the Wild 2007 (Movie)

(Director)

September 11 2003 (Movie)

(Episode 10) (Director)

The Pledge 2001 (Movie)

(Director)

The Crossing Guard 1995 (Movie)

(Director)

The Indian Runner 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Crazy for the Storm (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (4)

Into the Wild 2007 (Movie)

(adaptation) (Screenplay)

September 11 2003 (Movie)

(Episode 10) (Screenplay)

The Crossing Guard 1995 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Indian Runner 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

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 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.

Relationships

Jewel Actor

Companion
Romantically linked when he directed a music video for her 1996 single "You Were Meant For Me"; Jewel later re-filmed video featuring Steve Poltz No longer together

Madonna Actor

Wife
Married Aug. 16, 1985 Co-starred in "Shanghai Surprise" (1986) Divorced Sept. 14, 1989

Shannon Costello

Companion
Met while she was working for the actor's J/P Haitian Relief Organization in 2011

Scarlett Johansson Actor

Companion
Rumored to be dating after they shared an intimate lunch in February 2011 and then jetted off to Mexico for a whirlwind trip only a few days later Split in May 2011

Elle Macpherson Actor

Companion
Briefly dated 1996 No longer together

Aimee Mann Actor

Sister-In-Law

Elizabeth McGovern Actor

Companion
Met on set of "Racing With the Moon" (1984) Engaged c. 1983 Split 1984

Christopher Penn Actor

Brother
Born on Oct. 10, 1965 Acted together in "At Close Range" (1986) Died on Jan. 24, 2006 from cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart with multiple prescribed medications

Dylan Penn

Daughter
Born April 13, 1991 in Los Angeles; mother, Robin Wright

Leo Penn Director

Father
Born Aug. 27, 1921; was a drama teacher at the Actor's Studio who had fled from L.A. to New York during the 1950s after he was blacklisted from Hollywood for refusing to testify against coworkers in anti-Communist hearings; met Sean's mother Eileen Ryan when he took over for Jason Robards as Hickey in NYC production of "The Iceman Cometh" in the late 1950s Died Sept. 5, 1998

Michael Penn Director

Brother
Born Aug. 1, 1958; wrote score for "Boogie Nights" (1997); married to singer-songwriter Aimee Mann

Hopper Penn

Son
Born Aug. 6, 1993; father, Sean Penn; named after Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson

Dylan Penn Director

Daughter

Eileen Ryan Director

Mother
Born Oct. 15, 1927; gave up a flourishing stage career to raise her children; resumed acting career in the late 1980s, appearing in films like "Parenthood" (1989), Penn's "The Indian Runner" (1991), and "Magnolia" (1999)

Susan Sarandon Director

Companion
Together briefly in 1984 No longer together Later co-starred in "Dead Man Walking" (1995)

Pam Springsteen

Companion
Briefly dated Penn; sister of Bruce Springsteen No longer together

Robin Wright Director

Wife
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 April 27, 1996 Wright separated from Penn in December 2007 and petitioned for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences" Reconciled and dismissed her petition to divorce in April 2008 Penn filed for legal separation in April 2009, but reconciled a month later and dismissed papers to legally separate Divorced Aug. 4, 2010

EDUCATION

Santa Monica High School

Santa Monica , California
Classmates included Charlie Sheen and Rob Lowe

Studied acting with Peggy Feury

Santa Monica Community College

Santa Monica , California
Enrolled to study auto mechanics and speech but dropped out after one semester

Milestones

2013

Portrayed gang leader Mickey Cohen in crime drama "Gangster Squad"; film reunited him with "Milk" co-star Josh Brolin

2011

Cast as the grown-up version of Jack in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"

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"

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

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 Fi

2006

Played corrupt politician Willie Stark in big-screen adaptation of the Robert Penn Warren novel "All the King's Men"

2005

Starred opposite Nicole Kidman in Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter"

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

2003

Starred in emotional drama "Mystic River," directed by Clint Eastwood; received a SAG nomination for Best Actor

2002

Played small role in the romance "It's All About Love"

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

2000

Made a cameo appearance as a Cuban peasant in Julian Schnabel's "Before Night Falls"

2000

Acted in Kathryn Bigelow's "The Weight of Water"

2000

Returned to stage acting opposite Nick Nolte in Sam Shepard's play "The Late Henry Moss"

1999

Cast as the world's second best guitar player in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown"; received second Best Actor Academy Award nomination

1998

Acted in Terrence Malick's return to directing after an absence of 20 years, "The Thin Red Line"

1998

Reprised his stage role of Eddie for the screen version of "Hurlyburly"; fifth film with wife

1997

Executive produced the Los Angeles stage production of "Remembrance" starring his parents

1997

Co-starred with Robin Wright Penn in "She's So Lovely"; directed by Nick Cassavetes from a script by the late John Casavetes

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

1993

Formed Clyde Is Hungry Productions

1993

Returned to the screen in a supporting role in De Palma's "Carlito's Way"

1991

Film directing and writing debut, "Indian Runner"; claimed to have retired from acting

1990

First film with future wife Robin Wright, "State of Grace"

1989

First film with director Brian De Palma, "Casualties of War"; scripted by Rabe

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"

1988

Starred opposite Robert Duvall as L.A. street cops in "Colors"; film directed by Dennis Hopper

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

1985

Delivered standout performance as a desperate, amoral, drugged-out kid in "The Falcon and the Snowman"

1983

Earned favorable reviews as a troubled youth in "Bad Boys"

1983

Returned to Broadway to co-star with Val Kilmer, Jackie Earle Haley, and Kevin Bacon in "The Slab Boys"

1982

Breakthrough feature role, playing stoner Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"

1981

Made Broadway debut in "Heartland" (show closed after two months)

1981

Made film acting debut in "Taps"; played a rebellious cadet at a military school

1981

Landed supporting role in CBS movie "The Killing of Randy Webster"

1979

Made professional acting debut on CBS series "Barnaby Jones"

1969

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

Raised in San Fernando Valley, CA

Bonus Trivia

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In April 1987, during the filming of "Colors" (1988), Penn was arrested for punching a photographer who was taking pictures of him without permission. He served a month in jail for the assault.

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

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"You can't get paid $20 million for the kind of movies I want to do. They've been a couple of times when I've gotten the offer to do the odd one that will 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*t." – Penn quoted in Entertainment Weekly, Aug. 8, 1997

.

"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, Dec. 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 sh*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, Dec. 21, 1998

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"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 every body's feeling about it was different." – Penn to Jay Carr in The Boston Globe, Dec. 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, Jan. 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, from Entertainment Weekly, Nov. 28, 2003

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"I'm committed to the idea – and always have been – that the audience doesn't always know when they're being lied to. And the lies do have damage that they leave behind. But there's always hope that they know when they're bein' told the truth." – Penn to Esquire magazine, September 2007

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In February 2010, Penn was charged with criminal battery and vandalism for allegedly kicking a photographer in October 2009 and damaging the photographer's camera. With two misdemeanor counts, Penn faced up to 18 months in jail if convicted. In May 2010, he agreed to a plea of no contest to vandalism, while the battery charge was dropped. He was sentenced to three years probation, ordered to undergo anger management counseling and perform 300 hours of community service.

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After traveling to earthquake-ravaged Haiti numerous time throughout 2010, Penn was made a knight in that country in July 2010. Due to his tireless efforts to bring aid to Haiti, he was also honored with the 2010 Hollywood Humanitarian Award, as well another humanitarian accolade, the Producers Guild's 2011 Stanley Kramer Award. In January 2012, Penn was officially made an ambassador at large for Haiti by Haitian foreign minister Laurent Lamothe. Two months later, it was announced Penn would also receive the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates for his work.

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"I wanted to give back something more to help struggling people, but I didn't know how to best do it. I was for 20 years with Robin [Wright Penn] and 18 years with children. I didn't have time to commit to anything – for real – in place like Iraq, except to denounce the war. But now I'm single. I can lend a hand." – Penn on his Haitian earthquake-relief work, quoted in Vanity Fair, July 2010

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