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Sean Penn

Actor / Filmmaker

Born: 17 August 1960
Birthplace: Burbank, California
Best known as:

The intense actor who won Oscars for Mystic River and Milk

Sean Penn's film performances have earned him a reputation for dramatic intensity, but to many filmgoers he will always be remembered as Jeff Spicoli, the teenage stoner from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Penn made his movie debut in 1981's Taps (alongside Tom Cruise) and became known as a serious dramatic actor during the '80s, in films such as Bad Boys (1983) and At Close Range (1986, with Christopher Walken). His marriage to Madonna (1985-89) thrust Penn further into the spotlight, and he went from being known as an intense young actor to being known as an intense young actor who punched photographers (he even spent a brief time in jail for assault in 1987). In the '90s Penn tried to give up acting in favor of writing and directing; he made The Indian Runner (1991) and two films starring Jack Nicholson: The Crossing Guard (1995) and The Pledge (2000). He returned to the screen in 1993 to co-star with Al Pacino in Carlito's Way, then starred in Dead Man Walking (1995) and earned an Oscar nomination. Penn went on to be nominated again for Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown (1999) and for I Am Sam (2001, with Dakota Fanning), and in 2004 he won his first Oscar as best actor for Mystic River (2003, co-starring Tim Robbins). He won a second best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in the Gus Van Sant film Milk (2008). Among his other films are 21 Grams (2003), All The King's Men (2006) and Tree of Life (2011, with Jessica Chastain). Since 2010 he has led J/P HRO, a not-for-profit relief agency working in Haiti.

Extra credit:

Penn married actress Robin Wright in 1996. They have two children: a daughter Dylan (b. 1991) and a son Hopper Jack (b. 1993). Robin Wright Penn filed for divorce in August of 2009... Sean Penn's younger brother, Christopher Penn (1965-2006), was also a film actor. His older brother, Michael Penn (b. 1958), is a singer and songwriter.

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