Sean Penn is an American actor and filmmaker. He has won two Academy Awards, for his roles in the mystery drama ‘Mystic River’ in 2003 and the biopic ‘Milk’ in 2008. He began his acting career in television, with a brief appearance in episode 112 of ‘Little House on the Prairie’, directed by his father Leo Penn.
Following his film debut in the drama ‘Taps’ in 1981, and a diverse range of film roles in the 1980s, including ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ in 1982, he garnered critical attention for his roles in the crime dramas ‘At Close Range’ in 1986, ‘State of Grace’ in 1990, and ‘Carlito’s Way’ in 1993.
He became known as a prominent leading actor with the drama ‘Dead Man Walking’ in 1995, for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination and the Best Actor Award at the Berlin Film Festival. He received another two Oscar nominations for Woody Allen’s comedy-drama ‘Sweet and Lowdown’ in 1999 and the drama ‘I Am Sam’ in 2001, before winning his first Academy Award for Best Actor in 2003 for ‘Mystic River’ and a second one in 2008 for ‘Milk’. He has also won a Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for the Nick Cassavetes-directed ‘She’s So Lovely’ in 1997, and two Best Actor Awards at the Venice Film Festival for the indie film ‘Hurlyburly’ in 1998 and the drama ’21 Grams’ in 2003.
In 2008, he earned positive reviews for his portrayal of real-life gay-rights icon and politician Harvey Milk in the biopic ‘Milk’, and was nominated for best actor for the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards. The film also earned him his fifth nomination and second win for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He starred as Joseph C. Wilson in ‘Fair Game’ in 2010, a film adaptation of Valerie Plame’s 2007 memoir. He co-starred in the drama ‘The Tree of Life’ in 2011, which won the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. In 2015, he starred in ‘The Gunman’, a French-American action thriller based on the novel ‘The Prone Gunman’, by Jean-Patrick Manchette. Jasmine Trinca, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and fellow Oscar-winner Javier Bardem appear in supporting roles. He plays Jim Terrier, a sniper on a mercenary assassination team who kills the minister of mines of the Congo.
He made his feature film directorial debut with ‘The Indian Runner’ in 1991, followed by the drama film ‘The Crossing Guard’ in 1995 and the mystery film ‘The Pledge’ in 2001. He directed one of the 11 segments of ’11’09″01 September 11′ in 2002, a compilation film made in response to the September 11 attacks. His fourth feature film, the biographical drama survival movie ‘Into the Wild’ in 2007, garnered critical acclaim and two Academy Award nominations.
In addition to his film work, he engages in political and social activism, including his criticism of the George W. Bush administration, his contact with the Presidents of Cuba and Venezuela, and his humanitarian work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.