SEAN PENN (Mickey Cohen) is a two-time Academy Award winner and has become an American film icon in a career spanning more than three decades. Penn has been nominated five times for the Academy Award, as Best Actor for DEAD MAN WALKING, SWEET AND LOWDOWN and I AM SAM, and won his first Oscar in 2003 for his searing performance in Clint Eastwood's MYSTIC RIVER and his second Oscar as Best Actor in 2009 for Gus Van Sant's MILK. The performance as gay rights icon Harvey Milk also garnered Penn Best Actor awards from The Screen Actors Guild (SAG), New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
Penn has also received Best Actor awards at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals for SHE'S SO LOVELY and DEAD MAN WALKING, respectively, as well as being a two-time winner of Best Actor honors at the Venice Film Festival, for HURLYBURLY and 21 GRAMS. Penn was last seen in Paolo Sorrentino's THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Penn's feature film directorial debut came with 1991's THE INDIAN RUNNER, which he also wrote and produced. In 1995, he directed THE CROSSING GUARD, which he also wrote and produced. His third film as director/producer was 2001's THE PLEDGE, starring Jack Nicholson, and was named in the Top Ten Films of 2001 by The National Board of Review. Since then, Penn wrote and directed the United States' contribution to the compilation film 11'09'01. This important project gathered 11 acclaimed directors from around the world to create short films in response to the horrific events of September 11, 2001. In 2003, the film was nominated for a French Cesar Award in the Best European Union Film category and received a special recognition award from the National Board of Review. As writer, producer and director, INTO THE WILD marked Penn's fourth feature film, which opened to rave reviews in September 2007. The film, based on Jon Krakauer's best-selling non-fiction book, premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals and appeared on many lists of the top ten films of 2007.
Penn has appeared on stage in productions including Alfred Hayes' GIRL ON THE VIA FLAMINIA and Albert EARTHWORMS IN LOS ANGELES. On Broadway, Penn performed in Kevin Heelan's HEARTLAND and John Byrne's SLAB BOYS. He appeared in David Rabe's HURLYBURLy at the Westwood Playhouse, and GOOSE AND TOM TOM at Lincoln Center, both productions directed by the author. Most recently, Penn starred opposite Nick Nolte and Woody Harrelson in THE LATE HENRY MOSS, written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Sam Shepard.
In 2002, Sean Penn was presented with the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and in 2003, became the youngest recipient to ever receive the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Sebastian Film Festival. In 2004, he was honored with the John Steinbeck Award for outspoken torch-bearers in the creative arts. In 2008, Penn received the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting, after being presented in 2007 with the Director of the Year Award for INTO THE WILD from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Penn served as President of the jury for the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival, and later that year was named a Knight in the French Legion of Honor.
As a journalist, Penn has written for Time, Interview, Rolling Stone and The Nation magazines. In 2004, Penn wrote a two-part feature in The San Francisco Chronicle after a second visit to war-torn Iraq. In 2005, he wrote a five-part feature in the same paper reporting from Iran during the election which led to the Ahmadinejad regime. Penn's landmark interviews with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba's President Raul Castro were published in The Nation and The Huffington Post. Penn's interview with President Castro was his first-ever interview with an international journalist.
Penn's humanitarian work found him in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and, more recently, in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. In January 2010, Penn established the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO). J/P HRO has become a leader in Haiti across multiple sectors, working to improve living conditions in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and surrounding neighborhoods by clearing rubble and providing medical services, education and enrichment programs, housing construction, and neighborhood redevelopment. J/P HRO's main objective remains to help displaced people get back to durable, safer, and permanent homes in revitalized neighborhoods.
For his efforts, Penn has received numerous honors and awards, among them: the Commander's Award for Service (U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division); 82nd Airborne Award for Meritorious Service; the Operation Unified Response JTF Haiti Certificate from Lieutenant General P.K. Keen, U.S. Army Commander; the 1st Recon 73rd Division Coin of Excellence; 2nd Brigade Combat Team Coin of Excellence; Commendation of Excellence United States Southern Command; Award of Excellence by the Deputy Commander U.S. Southern Command; the 2010 Hollywood Humanitarian Award from the Hollywood Film Festival; the 2011 Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America; and the Children's and Families Global Development Fund Humanitarian Award, presented by the Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti. In July 2010, Penn was knighted by Haitian President Rene Preval in a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince.
In 2012, Penn was named Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti and was presented with this honor by President Michel Martelly at a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince. Most recently, Penn was presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, as well as with the International Humanitarian Service Award from the American Red Cross.
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