Sean Penn - Biography

"You can't get paid $20 million for the kind of movies I want to do," says Sean Penn. "There've been a couple of times when I've gotten the offer to do the odd one that'll make the bank big forever.

"But you start on page one of the script, knowing what the money is, and you're praying that you're gonna find some reason to do it... and you can't find a reason."

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Double Oscar-winner Sean has always had a love/hate relationship with Hollywood, primarily because he prefers to work on the fringes of the industry rather than going for big bucks.

His artistic integrity has been called arrogance by some, but it has also allowed him to hang onto the 'best-of-his-generation' tag he earned during his early days on screen.

The son of blacklisted actor-turned-director Leo Penn and his actress wife Eileen Ryan, Sean was born in Burbank, California, in 1960.

After dropping out of Santa Monica College where he had enrolled to study auto mechanics, Sean took up an apprenticeship with LA's Group Repertory Theatre in the late Seventies. He remains one of those Hollywood rarities: a star who was trained on the stage. And in 1981, he made his Broadway debut in a production of Heartland.

Hollywood came calling and the same year Sean was cast in a supporting role in the military drama Taps. His performance drew widespread acclaim and by 1982 he'd landed top billing in the hit teen flick Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

In his personal life, Sean earned a reputation for volatility following a brief but highly-publicised and tempestuous marriage to Madonna.

Then, he met second wife Robin Wright in 1990 whil filming State Of Grace.

The couple married and moved to the peaceful environs of Marin County, Northern California, in search of a "normal life". Their two children, Dylan Frances and Hopper Jack, were born in 1991 and 1993 respectively. Sadly, this marriage broke down too.

In 2014, the movie star began dating fellow Oscar winner Charlize Theron, a friend of 18 years standing.

Whatever the vicissitudes of his love life, his career remained on track. Sean "retired" from the big screen to concentrate on writing and directing, producing several well received projects. He went back to the screen for 1993's Carlito's Way opposite Al Pacino.

Politically outspoken, with a reputation for shunning awards ceremonies, Sean was not expected to show up at the Oscar gala when he was shortlisted for Mystic River in 2004. But – reportedly out of respect for the film's director Clint Eastwood – he was there to pick up the best actor statuette on the night, and received a standing ovation.

In 2009, a mellower Sean accepted his second Academy Award for his role as gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk in Milk. "I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me," he told the audience.

But appreciate him they do. He has won three other Oscar nominations for best actor. These are for his performance as a death-row inmate in 1995's Dead Man Walking, his Thirties jazz guitarist in Woody Allen's Sweet And Lowdown, and his portrayal of a mentally challenged man in I Am Sam.