The best actor of
his generation. Period.
(Art Linson, producer)
Born August 17, 1960
In Burbank, Kalifornien, USA
For sure Sean
Penn is not only one of the best actors and directors but also one of the
most conflicting and controversial people of Hollywood.
He made his
way to the movies through his family. His father, Leo Penn, was an
actor and director during the McCarthy-era. And as well as many others
Leo Penn also was summoned to the McCarthy forum and was questioned
about his colleagues.
But he wouldn't say anything and consequently was set onto the 'Black
List' as a communist.
Sean Penns mother, Eileen Ryan, is a very well known TV-actress
in the United States - in the past performing in TV hits like
Bonanza and today, after taking a break for nearly twenty years to
raise her kids, still appearing in series like ER, Ally McBeal or CSI.
Sean Penns first
appearance as an actor was in 1974, together with his mother, in an episode
of 'Little House on the Prarie ', followed by more appearances in television,
alongside Tom Cruise, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Timothy Hutton and Anthony
Edwards (today the Dr. Mark Greene from ER).
time goes by ...
Sean Penn with Kevin Bacon and Val Kilmer
But soon Sean
Penn had enough of TV.
He went to New York and started to play theater. In 1981 he gave his debut
And up to today the theater is a passion of Sean. In 2000 for example he
performed together with Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte and Cheech Marin in 'The
Late Henry Moss', a theater play of Sam Shepard, who is very much admired by
Sean Penn also made his first movie: 'TAPS'.
And already with his second movie he was noticed by the audience as
well as by the critics.
They all loved him as Jeff Spicoli, the surfer guy and outsider in
'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'.
The other parts in this movie once again were played by Leigh and
Edwards, as well as Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker and Nicolas
Cage. It was probably THE teen-movie of the eighties (Hey, Bud,
Jeff Spicolis motto:
But Sean Penn was
looking for the more 'different' movies. For example in the following time
in complex films as 'The falcon and the snowman' with Timothy Hutton or
'Crackers' under the direction of Louis Malle.
Penn as Brad Whitewood
in 'At close range' (Photo: Joyce Rudolph
from 'Sean Penn - His Life and Times')
journalists. Or better. I hate paparazzi. Yeah, I punched them out
and I'll do it again if it's necessary.'
But suddenly all
this was irrelevant, because Sean Penn met Madonna Ciccone, who at that time
had her first number one hit in the USA with 'Like a virgin'.
The new star in pop-heaven togehter with the new James Dean! The press went
bananas! A fact Sean Penn not always could cope with. He even spent a month
in jail because of assault. Well, nethertheless they got married.
Madonnas career was going on and on, the one of her husband seemed to fizzle
out ... in fact these were the most unproductive years of Jean Penns career.
OK, there was 'At Close Range', a film he did with his mother Eileen Ryan,
his brother Chris and Christopher Walker. And Madonna's film song, 'Live to
tell', which again went number one, did a good promotion as well.
But their movie together - 'Shanghai Surprise' - turned out to be a desaster,
specially because the press was everywhere.
It was a stormy marriage all the way and ended in january 1989, when Madonna
filed for divorce.
First work as
director and first Oscar nomination - Part II