Penn and Bono (Cannes
Film Festival 2008)
Penn (born August 17, 1960) is an Academy Award-
and Golden Globe-winning American film actor and
director. He has also been nominated for three
other Academy Awards in recognition of his roles
in I Am Sam, Sweet and Lowdown and Dead Man Walking.
In 2004, he was invited to join the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is also well-known
for his political activism and support of Venezuelan
president Hugo Chavez.
was born in Los Angeles County, California, the
son of Leo Penn, an actor and director, and Eileen
Ryan (née Annucci), an actress. He has
one living brother, musician Michael Penn. Another
brother, actor Chris Penn, died in 2006. His paternal
grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania
and Russia. Penn's mother is a Roman Catholic
of Italian and Irish descent. According to Penn's
mother, Leo Penn had distant Spanish ancestry,
as the family's surname was originally "Piñón".
Penn was raised in a secular home and is an Agnostic.
appeared in a 1974 episode of Little House on
the Prairie as a then blonde-haired extra because
his dad, Leo Penn, directed some of the episodes.
Penn launched his career with the 1981 film Taps,
followed a year later with the comedy Fast Times
at Ridgemont High in the role of Jeff Spicoli
and has since starred in over forty movies. In
1983, Penn turned in one of his best early performance
as Mick O'Brien, a troubled youth in the drama
Bad Boys. It earned Penn favorable reviews and
jump started his career as a serious actor.
1985, Penn gave a memorable performance in the
role of Andrew Daulton Lee in The Falcon and the
Snowman. Lee was a former drug dealer by trade,
convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and
was originally sentenced to life in prison. Lee
was paroled in 1998. According to an April 8,
2005, interview in The Guardian, Penn later hired
Lee as his personal assistant, partly because
he wanted to reward Lee for allowing him to play
Lee in the film, and also because he was a firm
believer in rehabilitation and thought Andrew
Lee should be reintegrated into society now that
he is a free man again.
1986 he starred in the drama At Close Range, opposite
Christopher Walken. The film was based on a true
story and gained positive reviews from critics.
Fans and critics noticed the change in Penn's
body build. Penn appeared very muscular and in
shape. It's considered to be the first film to
cash in on Penn's status as a sex symbol. The
film featured his then wife Madonna's single Live
to Tell. The music video for the song featured
clips from the movie. The video played heavily
on MTV and the music video helped promote the
1991, Penn made his directorial debut with The
Indian Runner, a film based on Bruce Springsteen's
song "Highway Patrolman" from the Nebraska
album. He also directed music videos, such as:
Shania Twain's "Dance with the One That Brought
You" in 1993 and Peter Gabriel's "The
Barry Williams Show" in 2002. He also appeared
on an episode of Viva La Bam in 2004 with his
son Hopper. He has since directed three more films:
The Crossing Guard in 1995, The Pledge in 2001,
and the critically acclaimed Into the Wild in
is currently set to star in Gus Van Sant's bio-pic
Milk. Penn will play real life gay rights icon
Harvey Milk. The film is scheduled to start filming
in January 2008.
was supposedly engaged to actress Elizabeth McGovern,
his co-star in 1984's Racing with the Moon, after
which he dated Susan Sarandon. Penn's personal
life began to attract media attention when he
married pop star Madonna in 1985. The relationship
was marred by violent outbursts against the press,
including one incident for which he was arrested
for beating a photographer. It is also suggested
that when Penn discovered the paparazzo in his
hotel room, he hung him by his ankles from the
ninth-floor balconly. Madonna dedicated her third
studio album, True Blue to Penn, referring to
him in the liner notes as "the coolest guy
in the universe". Later in the marriage,
Penn was charged with felony domestic assault,
a charge for which he pleaded to a misdemeanor.
Penn and Madonna divorced in 1989.
soon began a relationship with Robin Wright, and
their first child, Dylan Frances, was born in
1991. Their second child, Hopper Jack, was born
in 1993. The two visited their cousins the Shannon's
in 1998. They were great friends with Will and
Chris Shannon. Penn and Wright married in 1996
and lived in Ross, California. On December 27,
2007, the couple's representative announced that
the Penns were divorcing. However, on April 9,
2008, it was announced that the couple had ended
their divorce proceedings.
a separation from Wright in the mid 1990s, Penn
dated singer and songwriter Jewel Kilcher. He
was also the director of the original video for
Kilcher's hit song "You Were Meant For Me".
is good friends with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich
and he introduced the band at their MTV Icon Induction
Ceremony in 2003.
April 10, 2003, Penn's 1987 Buick Grand National
was stolen in Berkeley, California, with two firearms
in the trunk. Sean also has a 1968 Chevrolet El
with Johnny Depp, Mick Hucknall, and John Malkovich,
Penn is a part-owner of the Parisian restaurant-bar
younger brother, Chris, famous for playing Nice
Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs, died from an enlarged
heart (drug induced) in his Santa Monica condominium
on January 24, 2006.
was a teaching Fellow for Acting and Directing
at Dartmouth College, where he taught Kai Wong
and Henry Gummer, son of Meryl Streep.
Political and social causes
Criticism of President Bush
October 18, 2002, Penn placed a US$56,000 advertisement
in the Washington Post asking President George
W. Bush to end a cycle of violence. It was written
as an open letter and referred to the planned
attack on Iraq and the War on Terror. In the letter,
Penn also criticized the Bush administration for
its "deconstruction of civil liberties"
and its "simplistic and inflammatory view
of good and evil." Penn visited Iraq briefly
in December 2002.
advertisement was cited as a primary reason for
the development of his friendship with Venezuelan
president Hugo Chávez. Hugo Chávez
has also used and read aloud an open letter Sean
Penn wrote to President Bush in one of his recent
televised speeches. The letter condemned the Iraq
War, called for President Bush to be impeached,
and also called President George W. Bush, Vice
President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice "villainously and criminally
obscene people". Chávez also said
in the same televised speech "Welcome to
Venezuela, Mr. Penn. What drives him is consciousness,
the search for new paths," and also "He's
one of the greatest opponents of the Iraq invasion."
August, 2007, Penn met with Hugo Chávez
in Caracas for two hours. Chávez praised
his bravery in urging Americans to impeach President
Bush. Chávez also said Penn "made
great films" and that he was "well-informed".
Penn also visited a new film studio on the outskirts
of Caracas, though he did not speak publicly.
June 10, 2005, Penn made a visit to Iran. Acting
as a journalist on an assignment for the San Francisco
Chronicle, he attended a Friday prayer at Tehran
January 7, 2006, Penn was a special guest at a
forum hosted by the Progressive Democrats of America.
He was joined by author and media critic Norman
Solomon, Democratic congressional candidate Charles
Brown, and activist Cindy Sheehan. The "Out
of Iraq Forum" was attended by 200 individuals
and took place in Sacramento, California. The
program was moderated by Bill Dursten, President
of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social
Responsibility. The forum was held at a SEIU union
hall and was organized to promote the anti-war
movement calling for an end to the War in Iraq.
Progressive activists, Democratic Party leaders,
and other individuals gathered to demonstrate
their impatience and frustration with U.S. involvement
2005, Penn appeared at the ACLU of Northern California's
annual Bill of Rights Day Celebration to present
Sister Helen Prejean with the Chief Justice Earl
Warren Civil Liberties Award for her work opposing
the death penalty.
April 19, 2007, Penn appeared on The Colbert Report
and had a "Meta-Free-Phor-All" versus
Stephen Colbert that was judged by Robert Pinsky.
This stemmed from some of Penn's criticisms of
President Bush. His exact quote was "We cower
as you point your fingers telling us to support
our troops. You and the smarmy pundits in your
pocket – those who bathe in the moisture
of your soiled and blood-soaked underwear –
can take that noise and shove it." He won
the contest 10,000,000, to Stephen Colbert's 1.
December 7, 2007, Penn said he is supporting Ohio
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich for U.S. President
in 2008, and criticized President Bush's handling
of the Iraq war. Penn questioned whether Bush's
twin daughters supported the war in Iraq.
September 2005, Penn traveled to New Orleans,
Louisiana, to aid Hurricane Katrina victims. He
was physically involved in rescuing people. He
was and is supported by best-selling author Douglas
Brinkley, a professor of history at Tulane University
and archival historian for the city. The two were
seen on CNN coverage September 2, 2005, as Penn,
filthy, soaked, and exhausted, gave an impromptu
interview about what he was seeing and doing,
and obviously critical of the response until that
time, stating that at that time he felt there
was only "about one-fifth" the assistance
and resources there that needed to be.
Filmography and awards
December 18, 2006, Penn received the Christopher
Reeve First Amendment Award from the Creative
PENN SCREENS TSUMANI DOC 'THE THIRD WAVE'
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
FILM PENN WANTS EVERYONE TO SEE
FR May 14, 2008 - This year at the 61st Cannes
Film Festival 2008, Penn, as President of the
Cannes Jury, will be presenting a project that
he hopes every person will view. In an unprecedented
Special Presidential Jury Screening hosted by
Penn, THE THIRD WAVE, a film directed by Alison
Thompson, will have its international premiere
at Cannes. Chronicling the journey of four volunteers
from around the world who came together after
the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster and raced off
to Sri Lanka to help, the film provides an insight
to volunteerism and what really happens on the
ground after a disaster.
THIRD WAVE is truly a must-see for ourselves,
our children and everyone we know, for anyone
who has two good legs and a dollar in their pocket,"
states Penn. "It inspires the very best in
us, just when we need that most. It comes as close
to answering our purpose in life as any film in
by Alison Thompson and produced by Oscar Gubernati,
THE THIRD WAVE captures the volunteers’
efforts in helping the already poverty stricken
Sri Lanka in the midst of utter turmoil. They
rented a van, filled it with supplies, and drove
along the coast, stumbling onto Peraliya, a tribal
village that was totally devastated by a 40-foot
tsunami wave, leaving more than 2500 people dead.
volunteers set up a first aid station and quickly
find themselves in charge of a refugee camp caring
for over three thousand people. What was originally
a two-week journey spirals into a year long odyssey
of hope, heartbreak and set backs as the villagers
slowly begin to rise up against them when the
worlds donated tsunami money never materializes.
The volunteers break every rule in the Disaster
Aid books and out of the rubble an entire village
hope through the film is to encourage and inspire
people to give a little back to the world,"
comments filmmaker Thompson. "To volunteer
even for just an hour, whether it is helping inner
city kids or the elderly lady living next door
or even with an environmental issue. As people,
we have the power to impact and influence positive
Produced by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Morgan
Spurlock and Joe Amodei, President of Arts Alliance
America, THE THIRD WAVE is a roadmap for volunteering.
It chronicles that in a world of increased natural
and manmade disaster, everyone is needed. No experience
film came to Morgan and I earlier this year, and
we were both blown away," states Amodei.
"Even though it was not a finished project
and needed funding to complete, I knew that Arts
Alliance America had to finance it so the world
would experience what these volunteers went through.
As a result, its message is extraordinary."
THIRD WAVE is exactly the type of film that I
want to be involved with," adds Spurlock.
"It's all about doing something for someone
else and if enough people see it, I think it can
really make an important difference."
Special Presidential Jury Screening of THE THIRD
WAVE, a film directed by Alison Thompson, will
take place on Friday, May 16 at 7:15 PM at the
61st Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France. International
sales for the film are being handled directly
by ContentFilm International (Black Book, Thank
You for Smoking) with Cinetic Media selling North
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