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#1 Movie of All-Time
#1 Movie Character
Sean Justin Penn
August 17, 1960
He began making short films with some of his childhood friends, including actors Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, who lived near his home.
Penn began his acting career in television with a brief appearance in a 1974 episode of Little House on the Prairie, directed by his father Leo Penn. A year later, he appeared in the hit comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in the role of surfer-stoner Jeff Spicoli, with his character helping popularize the word "dude" in popular culture.
In 1983, Penn appeared as Mick O'Brien, a troubled youth, in the drama Bad Boys.The role earned Penn favorable reviews and jump-started his career as a serious actor.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, he has won the award twice. The Academy first recognized his work in nominating him for playing a racist murderer on death row in the 1995 drama film Dead Man Walking. He was nominated again for his comedic performance as an egotistical jazz guitarist in the 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown. He received his third nomination after portraying a mentally handicapped father in 2001's I am Sam. Penn finally won for his role in the 2003 Boston crime-drama Mystic River. In 2004, he played a disturbed man bent on killing the president in The Assassination of Richard Nixon. That year, he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The role earned Penn favorable reviews and jump-started his career as a serious actor. In November 2008, he earned positive reviews for his portrayal of real-life gay-rights icon and politician Harvey Milk in the biopic Milk, and was nominated for best actor for the 2008 Independent Spirit Awards. The film also earned Penn his fifth nomination and second win for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
In 1991, Penn made his directorial debut with The Indian Runner, a film based on Bruce Springsteen's song "Highway Patrolman", from the Nebraska album. He also directed music videos, such as Shania Twain's "Dance with the One That Brought You" and Lyle Lovett's "North Dakota" in 1993, and Peter Gabriel's "The Barry Williams Show" in 2002. He has since directed three more films, all of which were well received by critics: the indie thriller The Crossing Guard in 1995, the mystery film The Pledge in 2001, and the biographical drama survival film Into the Wild in 2007. Penn is currently working on The Last Face, in which he will also star.
Penn has been active in supporting numerous political and social causes. On December 13–16, 2002, Sean Penn visited Iraq to protest the Bush Administration's apparent plans for a military strike on Iraq.
On December 18, 2006, Penn received the Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award from the Creative Coalition for his commitment to free speech.
On February 22, 2009, Penn received the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film Milk. In his acceptance speech, he said: "I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone!
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Penn founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which has been running a 55,000 person tent camp. Due to his visibility as an on-the-ground advocate for rescue and aid efforts in the aftermath, Penn was designated by president Michel Martelly as Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti, the first time that a non-Haitian citizen has been designated as such in the country's history. Penn received the designation on January 31, 2012.
This Must Be the Place
The Tree of Life
The Assassination of Richard Nixon
I Am Sam
The Weight of Water
Before Night Falls
Up at the Villa
Sweet And Lowdown
The Thin Red Line
Dead Man Walking
State of Grace
We're No Angels
Casualties of War
At Close Range
James Scott Bumgarner
April 7, 1928
James served in the National Guard in Korea for 14 months, where he was wounded twice, first in the face and hand by shrapnel fire from a mortar round, and the second time in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dove headfirst into a foxhole. Garner received the Purple Heart in Korea for the first injury. He qualified for a second Purple Heart (eligibility requirement: "As the result of friendly fire while actively engaging the enemy"), but he did not actually receive it until 1983, 32 years after it had happened.
In 1955, Garner was considered for the lead role in the first Warner Brothers Western series, Cheyenne, but that role went to Clint Walker because the casting director could not reach Garner in time.
In 1957, he had a supporting role in the TV anthology series episode on Conflict entitled "Man from 1997" playing Gloria Talbott's (as Maureen) brother "Red"; the show stars Jacques Sernas as Johnny Vlakos and Charlie Ruggles as elderly Mr. Boyne, a librarian from 1997, and involved a 1997 Almanac that was mistakenly left in the past by Boyne and found by Johnny in a bookstore. The show's producer, Roy Huggins, noted in his Archive of American Television interview that he subsequently cast Garner as the lead in Maverick because of Garner's comedic facial expressions while playing scenes in Man from 1997 that were not originally written to be comical. In 1994, Garner played Marshal Zane Cooper in a movie version of Maverick, with Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick.
After several feature film roles, including Sayonara with Marlon Brando, Garner got his big break playing the role of professional gambler Bret Maverick in the comedy Western series Maverick from 1957 to 1960. The show almost immediately made Garner a household name.
In the smash hit war film The Great Escape, Garner played the second lead for the only time during the decade, supporting fellow ex-TV series cowboy Steve McQueen among a cast of British and American screen veterans including Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasence, David McCallum, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson in a film depicting a mass escape from a German prisoner of war camp based on a true story. The film was released in the same month as The Thrill Of It All, giving Garner two films at the box office at the same time.
In 1969, Garner played Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in Marlowe, a detective drama featuring an early karate scene with Bruce Lee.
In the 1970s, Roy Huggins had an idea to remake Maverick, but this time as a modern-day private detective. Huggins teamed with co-creator Stephen J. Cannell, and the pair tapped Garner to attempt to rekindle the success of Maverick, eventually recycling many of the plots from the original series. Starting with the 1974 season, Garner appeared as private investigator Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. He appeared for six seasons, for which he received an Emmy Award for Best Actor in 1977.
He was nominated for his first and only Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role in the movie Murphy's Romance opposite Sally Field. Field, and director Martin Ritt, had to fight the studio, Columbia Pictures, to have Garner cast, since he was regarded as a TV actor by then (despite having co-starred in the box office hit Victor Victoria opposite Julie Andrews two years earlier). Columbia did not want to make the picture at all, because it had no "sex or violence" in it. But because of the success of Norma Rae (1979), with the same star (Field), director, and screenplay writing team (Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch), and with Field's new production company (Fogwood Films) producing, Columbia agreed. Columbia wanted Marlon Brando to play the part of Murphy, so Field and Ritt had to insist on Garner. Part of the deal from the studio, which at that time was owned by The Coca-Cola Company, included an eight-line sequence of Field and Garner saying the word "Coke", and also having Coke signs appear prominently in the film.
Garner played Wyatt Earp in two very different movies shot 21 years apart, Hour of the Gun in 1967 and Sunset in 1988. The first film was a realistic depiction of the O.K. Corral shootout and its aftermath, while the second centered around a fictional adventure shared by Earp and silent movie cowboy star Tom Mix. The film featured Bruce Willis as Mix in only his second movie role. Although Willis was billed over Garner, the film actually gave more screen time and emphasis to Earp.
In 2004, Garner starred as the older version of Ryan Gosling's character in the film version of Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook alongside Gena Rowlands as his wife, directed by Nick Cassavetes, Rowlands' son. The Screen Actors Guild nominated Garner as best actor for "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role."
Nominated for 15 Emmy Awards during his television career, Garner received the award in 1977 as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (The Rockford Files) and in 1987 as executive producer of the film Promise.
For his contribution to the film and television industry, Garner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard). In 1990, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame that same year. In February 2005, he received the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role that year, for The Notebook. When Morgan Freeman won that prize for his work in Million Dollar Baby, he led the audience in a sing-along of the original Maverick theme song, written by David Buttolph and Paul Francis Webster.