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A Photographer at the Ends of the Earth
For all his fantasies of becoming a hero, Walter Mitty has his own very real hero: the famed LIFE photographer Sean O'Connell, an elusive adventurer who has become a kind of rock star of the photographic world, renowned for his relentless commitment to chasing a story no matter the cost. It seemed just the right match to cast Oscar-winning actor and director Sean Penn in the role of the mysterious icon who beckons Walter Mitty into the big, wide open world.

"Sean O'Connell is a guy who represents creative integrity and he had to have this amazing presence that the audience connects with instantly when Walter finally meets him. That's why Sean Penn was really my first choice because Sean embodies all that in life for me," says Ben Stiller.

Stiller was also keen to cast Penn in the kind of role where one of the leading dramatic actors of a generation wouldn't normally be seen. "Sean actually has a really great sense of humor," he notes, "which I think doesn't get showcased that often in his film work, so it was fun to give him a chance to do something different."

Adds producer Stuart Cornfeld: "Sean O'Connell has a certain kind of mystique, as does Sean Penn. What was amazing about his performance and the way the character is written is that when Walter finally does meet Sean, he's everything that Walter was looking for, but he's also completely different at the same time. For all of us, Sean was just amazing to watch in action."

Rounding out the main cast of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is an ensemble that includes Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Recreation) as Mitty's performance artist sister, comedian Patton Oswalt as Mitty's eHarmony counselor, Olafar Darri Olafsun as Mitty's unlikely Icelandic pilot, and, appropriately, a true screen legend as Mitty's mom: Academy Award winner Shirley MacLaine who also starred in a film Stiller considers an inspiration for some of his film's design, Billy Wilder's The Apartment.

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