Airdate(s) | January 19-20, 2012
Hometown | Santa Monica, California
Parents | Actress Eileen Ryan, Director Leo Penn
Awards and honors | The two-time Academy Award-winning actor (Mystic River and Milk) and critically acclaimed director (Into the Wild) was named ambassador at large to Haiti by Laurent Lamothe, the Haitian Minister of Foreign and Religious Affairs, in January 2012.
Political and social activism | The veteran actor is a dogged political activist, who was critical of the Bush administration and drew criticism for meetings with Cuban and Venezuelan leaders. Penn co-founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
The mission of J/P Haitian Relief Organization:
[P]roviding emergency medical and primary care services, delivering badly needed medical equipment and medicine, rubble removal facilitating community regeneration, management of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, distributing food and water purification systems, improving communication systems, and developing housing and education facilities.
Penn also used his Academy Award acceptance speech for Milk – the 2008 film in which he portrayed slain San Francisco politician Harvey Milk – to speak out about gay rights:
I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.
Selection of performances and projects
1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High
1983 Bad Boys
1984 Racing With the Moon
1985 The Falcon and the Snowman
1986 At Close Range
1989 Casualties of War
1990 State of Grace
1993 Carlito’s Way
1995 Dead Man Walking (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor)
1997 The Game
1997 She’s So Lovely
1998 The Thin Red Line
1999 Sweet and Lowdown (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor)
2000 Up in the Villa
2000 Before Night Falls
2000 The Weight of Water
2001 I Am Sam (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor)
2003 Mystic River (Academy Award for Best Actor)
2003 21 Grams
2004 The Assassination of Richard Nixon
2005 The Interpreter
2006 All the King’s Men
2008 Milk (Academy Award for Best Actor)
2010 Fair Game
2011 The Tree of Life
1991 The Indian Runner
1995 The Crossing Guard
2001 The Pledge
2007 Into the Wild
What is your favorite Sean Penn film or television performance? Share your thoughts below.