Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn is known for his starring roles in films such as "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Mystic River" and "Milk." He has won several honors as an actor and filmmaker, including two Academy Awards for best actor. In early 2016, Penn found himself embroiled in controversy following his Rolling Stone interview with fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
An interest in filmmaking, specifically directing, led to Penn's passion for acting, which included several early TV parts. He moved to New York City at the age of 19 and soon landed a part in a Broadway play, "Heartland." In 1981, he made his film debut alongside budding star Tom Cruise and Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton in the military school drama "Taps." In 1985, Penn gained a whole new measure of fame when he married pop icon Madonna, only for the couple to divorce 4 years later.
Though he previously claimed he quit acting, Penn returned to the front of the camera in 1993, playing a coke-addled criminal lawyer in Brian De Palma's "Carlito's Way," co-starring Al Pacino. His performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor. In 1995, he starred as a death row inmate searching for salvation in the film "Dead Man Walking," based on the true story by Helen Prejean. The film earned Penn Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, as well as an Independent Spirit Award. That same year, he wrote, produced and directed "The Crossing Guard," a dark drama starring his boyhood idol, Jack Nicholson. The film received positive reviews from critics, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Anjelica Huston. Penn won his second Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal of the first openly gay politician, Harvey Milk, in the film "Milk" (2008).
In an 11,000-word article published on Rolling Stone's website on January 9, 2016, Penn revealed that he had met with Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán at an undisclosed location in October 2015. Guzmán, who had orchestrated a daring escape from a high-security prison three months earlier, was looking to have a movie made about his life.
In addition to his film work, Penn 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.
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