Essential Film Stars, Sean Penn

Never one to shy away from politics himself, Sean Penn thrills audiences with his stunning portrayal of Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, in the 2008 film, Milk.  The film follows the story of Harvey Milk as he comes out of the closet, moves across the country, and becomes the spark that starts the gay rights movement in San Francisco.  Harvey Milk takes a lover, Scott Smith, played by James Franco, and becomes a community organizer.  Harvey eventually realizes he could really make a difference as an elected official, and with Scott’s help, he mobilizes the gay voter population to oust the conservative delegation and their anti-gay policies.


Born in August of 1960, Sean Penn is an award-winning actor, producer, and director from Santa Monica, CA.  Long recognized as a strong lead actor, Penn’s career spans decades and is highlighted by awards and distinctive honours.  Penn hails from a family of talented actors and musicians, appearing in the film At Close Range with his brother, Chris Penn, and mother, Eileen Ryan.  Sean Penn’s father is Leo Penn, a famous actor and director.  His older brother, Michael Penn, is a talented musician.

After graduating from Santa Monica High School, Penn began making short films with friends, particularly actors Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, who were childhood friends of Sean Penn.  His acting career took off in 1981, when he played a military school cadet in T.A.P.S.

Penn has since starred in, produced, and directed dozens of films, winning 2 Academy Awards for Best Actor, Golden Globe Awards, and numerous honours and nominations.

Beginning in 1981, Sean Penn’s career is a seemingly endless list of outstanding performances and moving roles.  His Jeff Spicoli character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a classic favourite.  The 1980’s produced a number of respectable films and began to push Penn to the forefront of the industry.  Sean Penn appeared in films such as At Close Range, Colors, and We’re No Angels alongside his dear friend, Robert DeNiro.

One of Penn’s most unforgettable performances was in 1995’s Dead Man Walking.  Penn followed this up with award-winning performances in She’s So Lovely, Hurlyburly, and Sweet and Lowdown.

More recent works include his portrayal as Harvey Milk in the incredible film, Milk, as well as stunning performances in Mystic River, 21 Grams, and I Am Sam.

Alexander Ryll
Launched in June 2014, Gay Essential is the world’s largest gay themed film blog promoting new and rare features. I am helped by some amazing writers and we also cover film festivals in the UK and USA. We are 100% independent, without advertising or funding by film distributors. Help to keep Gay Essential independent by purchasing our merchandise GET (Gay Essential Tees)
Alexander Ryll
- 49 mins ago
Alexander Ryll
Alexander Ryll