Salaries

Trivia

  • His paternal grandparents were Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants (their families were from Russia and Lithuania). They ran a Jewish deli in New York for some time. His mother's heritage is half Italian and half Irish.
  • He and director Clint Eastwood discussed the possibility of Sean starring in Blood Work (2002). Though it didn't work out, they got the opportunity to work together later in Mystic River (2003).
  • Publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate in the 2016 US presidential election.
  • His son is named after two family friends, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.
  • Attended the Cesar Film Awards in Paris, France on Feb. 27th. [February 2009]
  • He has worked with 8 directors who have won a Best Director Oscar: John Schlesinger, Oliver Stone, Woody Allen, Kathryn Bigelow, Clint Eastwood, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Sydney Pollack, and Barry Levinson.
  • He served 32 days in jail in 1987 for hitting an extra.
  • Has openly declared that he'd much rather direct movies than act in them (interview: Piers Morgan Tonight: Episode dated 14 October 2011 (2011)).
  • His father Leo Penn, a writer was blacklisted during McCarthy era in Hollywood.
  • Lost out to Christopher Atkins for the role of Richard in The Blue Lagoon (1980) on the final day of auditions.
  • Appeared with his brother Chris Penn in At Close Range (1986), in which their actress mother, Eileen Ryan, played their grandmother.
  • Attended the BFI London Film Festival (on Oct. 25th) as well as the 2nd Rome Film Festival (on Oct. 24th) to promote his film Into the Wild. [October 2007]
  • He toured Caracas, Venezuela, in August 2007 with President Hugo Chávez,.
  • Attended the Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks fight at Trump Plaza on June 27th in Atlantic City, New Jersey. [June 1988]
  • Refuses to talk about his ex-wife Madonna in interviews. On her 1989 "Like A Prayer" album, she wrote a song about their failed marriage called "Till Death Do Us Part".
  • Requested to withdraw the papers he filed for legal separation from Robin Wright. [May 2009]
  • Moved to Marin County (North of San Francisco) to avoid raising his children in Hollywood.
  • Born at 3:17 PM (PDT).
  • Is an avid surfer.
  • Release of the book, "Sean Penn: His Life and Times" by Richard T. Kelly. [2004]
  • His father, Leo Penn, had been blacklisted in the 1950s for his political beliefs.
  • Briefly engaged to actress-photographer Pamela Springsteen, sister of Bruce Springsteen. The two were both in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).
  • They lost their home in the Malibu fire in November 1993.
  • Was engaged to Elizabeth McGovern. They met on the set of Racing with the Moon (1984).
  • Milo Ventimiglia listed him as his favorite actor.
  • Is very good friends with Robert De Niro. The two share the same birthday and would often throw a joint birthday party together.
  • Former son-in-law of Silvio Ciccone.
  • Visited Egypt and Libya. [October 2011]
  • Andy Warhol was a guest during his August 16, 1985 marriage to Madonna.
  • Former brother-in-law of Christopher Ciccone, Martin Ciccone, Paula Ciccone, Anthony Ciccone, Melanie Ciccone, Mario Ciccone, and Jennifer Ciccone.
  • Brother-in-law of Aimee Mann.
  • He is half-Jewish.
  • As of 2005, the only actor to ever receive a Best Actor nomination for a Woody Allen film, besides Allen himself.
  • He was criticized for publicly calling for more gun control in the United States, despite admitting that he owned guns.
  • Campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
  • Attended the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in France. [May 2008]
  • In June 1987 Penn was sentenced to sixty days for probation violations including reckless driving and assault. The sentence was reduced to thirty-three days "in anticipation of good behavior." Penn served five days, was released to film a movie, and then served out the remainder of his sentence in private jail facilities for which he paid an extra eighty dollars per day.
  • In January 2016, shortly after the recapture of the notorious fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, Rolling Stone magazine published an interview with him that Sean Penn conducted during the time the Sinaloa drug cartel head was still at large ("El Chapo" had escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison in 2015). Guzmán contacted Penn via a Mexican movie and TV star, Kate del Castillo, who, after playing a drug kingpin in a Mexican TV show, had been contacted by Guzmán in the hope that she would make a movie about his life. After his interview was published, Penn was criticized by the Obama administration and investigated by the Mexican government for failing to aid authorities in recapturing Guzmán earlier than they did.
  • Filed for divorce from Robin Wright, a year after they reconciled after she had filed for divorce in late 2007. [April 2009]
  • On September 11, 2004, he received the John Steinbeck award at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The award is given out by the San Francisco Chronicle and benefits San Jose State University. The evening included film clips and discussion with Peter Coyote. The biggest surprise of the night was that Bruce Springsteen (a longtime friend of Sean's and the first recipient of the award) presented it to him.
  • Attended the Cannes Film Festival. [May 2000]
  • Directed one Oscar nominated performance: Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild (2007).
  • Wife Robin Wright filed papers for divorce after 11 years of marriage on December 21, 2007, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple is seeking joint custody of their two teenage children. In April 2008 they withdrew the petition.
  • Robin Wright once again filed for divorce. She had previously stated in More magazine that, although they withdrew their divorce papers in early 2009, they are no longer together. [August 2009]
  • His car, a limited-edition 1987 Buick Grand National, was stolen in Berkeley months after his return from Iraq. Among the lost contents were 2 guns.
  • He is the 9th person to win 2 Academy Awards for Best Actor.
  • Middle brother of musician Michael Penn and Chris Penn.
  • The longest he has gone without an Oscar nomination if 5 years, between Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008).
  • He and ex-wife Madonna's birthdays are a day apart. They married on her 27th birthday and he turned 25 the next day.
  • Attended the Cannes Film Festival. [May 2001]
  • In October 2002, he bought a $56,000 ad in the Washington Post to publish an open letter to President George W. Bush asking him to slow down the march of war towards Iraq. He wrote it as a father of two children and as a son of a WW II veteran.
  • Credits Malcolm McDowell as the best actor with whom he's worked.
  • 2008's Jury president of Cannes Film Festival.
  • Became a father for the 1st time at age 30 when his girlfriend [now 2nd ex-wife] Robin Wright gave birth to their daughter Dylan Penn on April 13, 1991.
  • His publicist is Mara Buxbaum.
  • One of four people to have achieved the rare feat of winning an acting prize in the three major film festivals: Venice Film Festivel, Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. The others to do so are Julianne Moore, Juliette Binoche and Jack Lemmon. Additionally, all four actors have won acting Oscars.
  • Attended the Cannes Film Festival in France. [May 2011]
  • Is the subject of the song, "Sean Penn Blues", by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions.
  • In October 2008, he traveled to Cuba where he met with and interviewed President Raúl Castro.
  • Good friends with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.
  • Attended the 2004 Cannes Film Festival in France. [May 2004]
  • Received an honorary César award in France for his body of work in 2015, Marion Cotillard presented the award to him. [20 February, 2015].
  • He and Robin Wright lived together off and on for 7 years and had two children before their marriage in 1996.
  • Was considered for the role of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987) & the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman (1989).
  • His performance as "Jeff Spicoli" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) is ranked #9 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
  • He and his family moved out of Hollywood to Marin County, north of San Francisco because he was "tired of a lot of aspects of Los Angeles, the main one being raising the kids in a company town".
  • Became a father for the 2nd time at age 32 when his girlfriend [now 2nd ex-wife] Robin Wright gave birth to their son Hopper Penn on August 6, 1993.
  • As of 2014, has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: The Thin Red Line (1998), Mystic River (2003), Milk (2008) and The Tree of Life (2011).
  • Attended the Venice Film Festival in Italy on Sept. 5th. [September 2003]
  • Son of Leo Penn and Eileen Ryan.
  • Publicly supported Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands.
  • Ranks his good friend Philip Seymour Hoffman as one of the greatest actors of his generation (interview: Piers Morgan Tonight: Episode dated 14 October 2011 (2011)).
  • Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1984" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 36.
  • He was Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. first choice for the role of the Joker for the movie The Dark Knight (2008) but he turned down the part because he didn't want to play a role that had already been played by his longtime friend Jack Nicholson. The role ultimately went to Heath Ledger.
  • In three consecutive years won acting prizes in the three major film festivals: Berlin Silver Bear Best Actor (Dead Man Walking [1995]) in 1996, Cannes Best Actor (She's So Lovely [1997]) in 1997, and Venice Volpi Cup Best Actor (Hurlyburly [1998]) in 1998 becoming the fastest among the four actors to have accomplished the feat of winning in the aforementioned film festivals.
  • Sean Penn, along with Ang Lee, and taught Kai Wong filmmaking, and honored at Dartmouth College.Sean Penn is the first husband of pop star, Madonna.
  • Attended the 2003 San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. [September 2003]
  • Was ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and 36 hours of anger management therapy after being charged with misdemeanor vandalism. Penn reportedly kicked a paparazzi in the leg in October 2009 and was initially charged with battery and vandalism. [May 2010]
  • Quit smoking for a while on his 40th birthday for health reasons. Prior to that, he was known as one of Hollywood's heaviest smokers, smoking at least four packs of cigarettes a day.
  • Penn's At Close Range (1986) director James Foley served as best man at Penn and Madonna's wedding (1985).
  • Flew to Haiti on January 21 2010 to help the relief effort after the earthquake.
  • Is a Practitioner of Jeet Kune Do.
  • Was in the same acting class as Michelle Pfeiffer at the end of the 70s or early 80s.
  • Ranked #76 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
  • A popular indie-band in The Netherlands is called "Seanpenn".

Quotes

  • I think it's really important to be able to feel your own life, and I had felt so numbed by what had been a kind of surreal saturation of what was going on in the Middle East and what it was going to mean, particularly relative to my kids' future and things like that.
  • [on decadence in Hollywood culture] I think you're talking about a human weakness that's pervasive in all cultures of business, whether it be Hollywood or others. They talk about the drug culture, for example, in Hollywood. I've never gone anywhere that I didn't see a similar drug culture. We look everywhere to try and make a darkened penny a shiny one, and you're going to have both in your pocket.
  • E.L. Doctorow had a quote I've used a lot of times, that the responsibility of the artist is to know the time in which he lives.
  • [2008, on his love of road trips] I've been a road-rat since I got my drivers license at 16, so I've probably gone across America 20 times.
  • (On Daniel Day-Lewis): He may very well be the greatest actor ever recorded to the screen.
  • I've always operated under the notion that audiences don't always know when they're being lied to, but that they always know when they're being told the truth. If there are what I think are unsung truths to be talked about in a film, through a character, through a story, and that dominates the piece, that's the key for me. I think the biggest thing is to not participate in the damaging, lying cinema.
  • In my teens, I fell in love with the movies. And so when I got involved I was a genius in terms of how the movies that were made in the generation that inspired me got made. But the financing wasn't there to do 'em anymore. Trauma. I'm caught in a business that I'm in love with the idea of - the whole process that's possible. Only now they're not making movies - they're representing them.
  • [on Clint Eastwood] He's one of the few legends who isn't a disappointment.
  • I became an actor because of Robert De Niro.
  • You build a cage based on your sense of the truth and your sense of the aspects of the character that need to tell the story. If you've done your job right, which I've had varying degrees of success doing at different times in my life, then you're able to function very freely within that cage.
  • I do think that, in general, the standard of aspiration is low. Very low. And mostly they're just doing a bunch of monkey-fuck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody's got a modeling contract, everybody's selling jewelry and perfume. I'm blinded by it.
  • The horror of the Academy Awards is what the press does leading up to it, to make it a popular TV show. Where they'll actually make it like it's an arm- wrestling event between two actors. That becomes very petty, and that's something that's embarrassing to follow up with accepting the invitation to the party.
  • Hollywood is much more creatively corrupt than it is economically [corrupt]. It takes $1 for them to kill their dreams. Their dreams are worth more than $1.
  • [on Madonna] I met her on the shoot of that video ["Material Girl"]. Madonna had done "Like a Virgin", so she was a phenom, but nothing could have told anybody what would happen next. I describe that marriage as loud. That's how I remember it. And frankly, I don't recall having a single conversation in four years of marriage. I've talked to her a couple of times since, and there's a whole person there. I just didn't know it.
  • [on his marriage to Madonna] She was in the process of becoming the biggest star in the world. I just wanted to make my films and hide. I was an angry young man. I had a lot of demons and don't really know who could've lived with me at the time. I was just as badly behaved as her, so I can't point the finger of blame.
  • I don't consider myself specifically political, you know? I think of working as an actor as being a human thing. The concerns I have that fall into politics are human concerns.
  • This might be the last thing anybody would see, but I'm probably shy. I've never gone to a party where I didn't drink alcohol. I have a great time, but I'm not comfortable. My straight nature is not very social. That doesn't mean I haven't caught myself being terribly arrogant.
  • The major studios are by and large banks and they give you what is by and large a loan to make a movie. Like banks, they want their money back plus.
  • [interview with Lynn Darling, 1991] The Madonna stuff just made it clear. After it was over, I could see what was left that I was in control of. I'm very fond of my ex-wife, but at 24, I didn't realize the difference between a great first date and a lifetime commitment.
  • [backing Woody Harrelson for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar] The Messenger (2009) is one of those rare platforms for a familiar American actor to reinvent himself. Woody Harrelson conjures a heart and presence of previously untapped immensity and emotional power. He deserves a BIG nod. He's done the hardest thing an actor can do. He's made something new.
  • I don't like any directors. I don't get along with any of them. Mostly I think they're a bunch of whiny people without any point of view. So I don't want to be around them at six o'clock in the morning with make-up and bells on. And I'm probably the same way for the actors on my set - but that's their problem.
  • [on how selections will be made while being the head jury member at Cannes in 2008] The best way to be honest is to try to emancipate ourselves from the effects of fashion, to try to find what will stay with us forever. We've got to do the opposite of the Academy that gives out the Oscars, where manipulation and very good marketing are rewarded.
  • I think guns are not something to be missed. Especially, on a serious note, when we talk about it this week, this tragic thing that happened in Paris. I'd like to see more guns go to sculpture. I'd like to see it happen. I don't know that we've come to a time where we can be a gunless society, but we're certainly not working the way we're flying with them.
  • Your life is what you bring to any story. This is a life craft. It's "How do you feel? Who are you? What do you have to say?"
  • [on Woody Allen] didn't ask to see or know anything [about my character] until he rolled the camera. His feeling is that the best, complete thing he's going to get is going to come out of the actor's instinct. And what he finds out on day one is whether or not he cast it well.
  • The bigger issue is that it's an absolutely stupid notion that you should take the title of someone's profession and attach it to what they should not do. It has nothing to do with citizenry.
  • (on his role in The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)) It was the hardest thing I've ever done. My wife thinks it's the best. I don't call it my best, because either I've done something well or I haven't. I think I did this one well. I'd go back and fix some things in everything I've done. Usually, if I've done something really well, I'd only re-shoot half the film.
  • Let's face it. I'm a person that feels pretty alienated from the rest of the world and never felt understood by anyone.
  • [Discussing Oliver Stone] I think that his basic pig nature keeps him from doing the best of what he ought to do. And it keeps him from being someone I want to run into.
  • If the primary statement of the film is that if you have good abs it's OK to kill people, I pass.
  • I was brought up in a country that relished fear-based religion, corrupt government and an entire white population living on stolen property that they murdered for and that is passed on from generation to generation.
  • With the Academy Awards, if you're standing there and looking out, you're not going to see many people who can find their butt with their hand.
  • There's an interesting parallel between Bush [George W. Bush] and Richard Nixon. While Nixon was clearly a superior statesman and in many ways a more intelligent politician, what they share is a kind of boldness in how they emote their insecurities. What we're finding with George Bush, part of what's familiar to people and that adds to his likability for many, is that there's a commonality of deep insecurity and his handling it with a kind of bravado. What they both did is handle things with a similar certainty - certainty being the "disease of kings".
  • I can never get ahead of the game because of the movies I do.
  • Voting for Donald Trump is the equivalent of masturbating your way into Hell while supporting a guy who looks like a blonde magician.
  • I had a house burn down once, and everything in life burned, except my family, and it was so liberating. I didn't have a bad moment about it. It sort of reinvigorated my interest in a lot of things. I wonder if there should be some kind of anarchy.
  • [1999] Nic Cage [Nicolas Cage] is no longer an actor. He's more like a performer.

Trademarks

  • Known for playing deeply intense yet sympathetic characters prone to violence
  • Intense emotional acting style
  • Often stars in films that reflect his liberal political views
  • Frequently plays unsympathetic and cruel characters with a hidden moral center

Nicknames

  • 西恩·潘
  • Шон Пенн
  • شون بن
  • ฌอน เพนน์
  • 숀 펜
  • ショーン・ペン