Sean Penn is a powerhouse actor, director and activist whose talent and intensity have made for political controversy and both critical and box-office success. Having first reached film audiences in Taps (1981), Penn has appeared in more than 40 films and has been nominated for four Academy Awards. In 2003, he won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River. He has also directed three feature films, with a fourth, Into the Wild, set to be released later this year.
In recent years he has also established himself as one of America’s most visible political activists, emerging as one of the earliest and most outspoken critics of the war in Iraq and other Bush Administration policies. With Norman Solomon, syndicated columnist, founder of the Institute for Public Accuracy, and author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning us to Death, Penn traveled to Iraq in December 2002, on the eve of war, to call attention to the potential human costs of an American invasion. He returned to Iraq during the war, bringing focus to aspects of the occupation that were not being covered by the mainstream media at the time, and later traveled to Iran to shed light on the potential consequences of an American military intervention there. In 2005, Penn also helped focus national attention on the inadequate government response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, hiring a boat and security team in the storm’s immediate aftermath and personally assisting in the rescue effort.