Sean Penn


17 Aug 1960


Santa Monica, California, USA


Sean Justin Penn


Sean Penn is a 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.

Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the second son of actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci) and director, actor, and writer Leo Penn. His brother was actor Chris Penn. His father was from a Lithuanian Jewish/Russian Jewish family, and his mother is of half Italian and half Irish descent.

Penn 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, 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.

Actor ( 141 credits )

The Angry Birds Movie (2016) Terence (voice)
3 Hikers (2015) Himself
The Gunman (2015) Jim Terrier
Sweet Micky for President (2015) Himself
Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey (2014) Himself
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) Sean O'Connell
The Human Experiment (2013) Narrator
Gangster Squad (2013) Mickey Cohen
Ok! TV (2013)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2015)
Americans (2012) Commie
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2012) Himself
The Hollywood Fast Lane (2012)  Himself - Interviewee (1 episode, 2013)
Haiti Untold (2012) Himself
This Must Be the Place (2011) Cheyenne
A Decade of Difference: A Concert Celebrating 10 Years of the William J. Clinton Foundation (2011) Himself
Clinton Foundation: Celebrity Division (2011) Himself
The Tree of Life (2011) Jack
Piers Morgan Tonight (2011)  Himself (4 episodes, 2011-2013)
CNBC Meets with Tania Bryer (2011)  Himself (1 episode, 2013)
Bad Boy Kummer (2010) Himself (archive footage)
Fair Game (2010) Joe Wilson
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune (2010) Actor / Activist
I'm Still Here (2010) Himself (uncredited)
If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise (2010)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Conan (2010)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2015)
Dirty Hands Caravan (2010) Himself
The People Speak (2009) Himself
American Politics All You Can Eat (2009) Himself
Milk: Hollywood Comes to San Francisco (2009) Himself
Richard Roeper & the Movies (2009)  Joe Wilson (archive footage) (1 episode, 2010)
Fox News Reporting (2009)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2016)
Witch Hunt (2008) Himself - Narrator
Milk (2008) Harvey Milk
What Just Happened (2008) Sean Penn
Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis (2008)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Persepolis (2007) Mr. Satrapi - Marjane's father (voice)
War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (2007) Himself - Narrator (voice)
Banda sonora (2007)  Emmet Ray (1 episode, 2009)
Rencontres de cinéma (2007)  Himself (2 episodes, 2015)
Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film (2006) Himself
All the King's Men (2006) Willie Stark
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)  Himself (unknown episodes)
Close Up (2006)  Actor / ... (1 episode, 2012)
The Interpreter (2005) Tobin Keller
The Colbert Report (2005)  Himself (2 episodes, 2007)
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005)  Himself (1 episode, 2011)
Video on Trial (2005)  Himself (uncredited) (1 episode, 2006)
Noche Hache (2005)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
Iconoclasts (2005)  Himself (1 episode, 2007)
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004) Samuel J. Bicke
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) Himself
Ninth November Night (2004) Himself
Tavis Smiley (2004)  Himself (3 episodes, 2009-2012)
Le grand journal de Canal+ (2004)  Himself (1 episode, 2012)
Omg! Insider (2004)  Himself (1 episode, 2008)
21 Grams (2003) Paul Rivers
Mystic River (2003) Jimmy Markum
This So-Called Disaster: Sam Shepard Directs the Late Henry Moss (2003) Ray
It's All About Love (2003) Marciello
Bukowski: Born into This (2003) Himself
Pauly Shore Is Dead (2003) Sean Penn
Two and a Half Men (2003)  Sean Penn (1 episode, 2004)
Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003)  Himself - Actor (1 episode, 2006)
Real Time with Bill Maher (2003)  Himself (2 episodes, 2007-2010)
Viva la Bam (2003)  Himself (1 episode, 2004)
Celebrities Uncensored (2003)  Himself (2 episodes, 2003-2004)
VH1: All Access (2003)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2003)
Rosy-Fingered Dawn: a Film on Terrence Malick (2002) Himself
Searching for Debra Winger (2002) Himself (uncredited)
Tinseltown TV (2002)  Himself (1 episode, 2004)
Caiga quien caiga (2002)  Himself (uncredited) (1 episode, 2004)
I Am Sam (2001) Sam Dawson
Democracy Now! (2001)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Scene Smoking: Cigarettes, Cinema & the Myth of Cool (2001) Himself
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) Narrator (voice)
See How They Run (2001) Himself
A Constant Forge (2000) Himself
The Weight of Water (2000) Thomas Janes
The Beaver Trilogy (2000) Groovin' Larry (segment "Beaver Kid 2") (archive footag
Before Night Falls (2000) Cuco Sanchez
Up at the Villa (2000) Rowley Flint
Being John Malkovich (1999) Himself (uncredited)
Sweet and Lowdown (1999) Emmet Ray
VH-1 Where Are They Now? (1999)  Himself (1 episode, 2000)
Hurlyburly (1998) Eddie
The Thin Red Line (1998) 1st Sgt. Edward Welsh
Hugo Pool (1997) Strange Hitchhiker
The Game (1997) Conrad Van Orton
She's So Lovely (1997) Eddie Quinn
U Turn (1997) Bobby Cooper
Loved (1997) Man on the Hill (Michael)
Corazón de... (1997)  Himself (5 episodes, 2005-2006)
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 2002)
The O'Reilly Factor (1996)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 2007-2008)
Caiga quien caiga (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 2008)
Dead Man Walking (1995) Matthew Poncelet
Friends (1994)  Eric (2 episodes, 2001)
Ellen (1994)  Sean Penn (uncredited) (1 episode, 1997)
Inside the Actors Studio (1994)  Himself (2 episodes, 1999-2011)
Extra (1994)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2014)
Carlito's Way (1993) Kleinfeld
The Last Party (1993) Himself
Late Show with David Letterman (1993)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2007)
GMTV (1993)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
CNN Presents (1993)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2007)
The Larry Sanders Show (1992)  Himself (1 episode, 1998)
Gomorron (1992)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1997-2003)
Cruise Control (1992) Jeffrey
Schneeweißrosenrot (1991) Himself
Charlie Rose (1991)  Himself - Guest (9 episodes, 1995-2010)
Talking with David Frost (1991)  Himself (1 episode, 1996)
State of Grace (1990) Terry Noonan
The Word (1990)  Himself (1 episode, 1992)
We're No Angels (1989) Jim
Casualties of War (1989) Sgt. Tony Meserve
Judgement in Berlin (1988) Guenther X
Colors (1988) Officer Danny McGavin
Biography (1987)  Himself (3 episodes, 2002-2005)
Seitenblicke (1987)  Himself (segment "Schnapp SCHÜSSE") (uncredited) (1 ep
Shanghai Surprise (1986) Glendon Wasey
At Close Range (1986) Brad Whitewood Jr.
The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2009)
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) Daulton Lee
American Masters (1985)  Himself (2 episodes, 2011-2012)
Larry King Live (1985)  Himself (5 episodes, 2005-2010)
Racing with the Moon (1984) Henry 'Hopper' Nash
Crackers (1984) Dillard
Gran premio internazionale della TV (1984)  Himself (1 episode, 2001)
Summerspell (1983) Buddy
Risky Business (1983) Cameo (uncredited)
Bad Boys (1983) Mick O'Brien
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Jeff Spicoli
Taps (1981) Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer
Entertainment Tonight (1981)  Himself (8 episodes, 2007-2010)
La nuit des Césars (1976)  Himself (1 episode, 2009)
Saturday Night Live (1975)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1987-1995)
Little House on the Prairie (1974)  Kid (uncredited) (1 episode, 1974)
Barnaby Jones (1973)  Sam (1 episode, 1979)
60 Minutes (1968)  Himself - Actor (1 episode, 2003)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)  Himself (2 episodes, 1986-1991)
The Professor and the Madman (0) Dr. William Chester Minor

Producer ( 11 credits )

The Gunman (2015) producer
The Human Experiment (2013) executive producer
Sebastian Beach One Fine Day (2012) associate producer
Love Hate Love (2011) executive producer
Dirty Hands Caravan (2010) producer
Witch Hunt (2008) executive producer
Into the Wild (2007) producer
The Pledge (2001) producer
She's So Lovely (1997) executive producer
Loved (1997) producer
The Crossing Guard (1995) producer

Writer ( 6 credits )

The Gunman (2015) (screenplay) &
Americans (2012) (story)
Into the Wild (2007) (screenplay)
September 11 (2002) (segment "USA")
The Crossing Guard (1995) (written by)
The Indian Runner (1991) (written by)

Director ( 6 credits )

The Last Face (2016)
Into the Wild (2007)
September 11 (2002) (segment "USA")
The Pledge (2001)
The Crossing Guard (1995)
The Indian Runner (1991)