From Indian Runner to I
am Sam - Brilliance in acting and directing
And then finally Sean Penn's career was taking a big step forward.
First in 1988 in Dennis Hopper's film
Colors, then with films like Brian
De Palma's Casualties Of War, his father's
film Judgement in Berlin and the very fine film
Grace with Ed Harris, Gary Oldman and Sean
Penn's later wife Robin Wright.
But beeing an
actor was not enough for someone like Sean Penn! In 1989 he went back to the
theatre for David Rabes
Sean Penn's first steps as a director led to the
amazing debut with
The Indian Runner - a film about two brothers with
completely different characters and temper - a small, tendencyfull film with
absolute maximum acting achievement of the two leading actors
David Morse and Viggo Mortensen!
A wonderfull directing debut for Sean Penn, who wrote the script as well,
inspired by Bruce Springsteen and his
song Highway Patrolman.
Together with Al
Pacino he then was seen, once again directed by De Palma, in
His figure, David Kleinfeld, would have been worth an Oscar nomination ...
one of his best figures up to now.
Is that really Sean? Sean Penn as David
Kleinfeld - Carlitos Way
In the years
between 1993 - 1995 Sean Penn even thought of quitting acting - but
fortunately for us fans he changed his mind ... and came back with a
With The Crossing Guard he presented in 1995 his second work as director,
a sensitive drama with Jack Nicholson und again David Morse as leading
Sean Penn then attracted high attention and his first oscar nomination (see
Awards) with the part of the murderer on death row,
Matthew Poncelet, in Tim Robbins highly respected drama
Dead Man Walking.
In the time to
follow Sean Penn again and again managed the balancing act between the
independent, low-budget movies and the big parts in blockbusters, like
Game from the director of 'Seven', David Fincher, with Michael Douglas.
In 1998 there
were three high regarded films for Sean Penn. Terrence Malicks war drama
thin red line, then the film version of the theatre play
Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri and Meg Ryan as well as his wife Robin Wright
and last but not least the leading part as jazz musician Emmet Ray in Woody
Allens Sweet And Lowdown (1999).
For his part in 'Hurlyburly' he was awarded as best actor in Cannes and for
Emmet Ray he got his second oscar nomination (see
And again he worked as director. For the drama
The Pledge he could
gather around him an impressive ensemble with Jack Nicholson, Vanessa
Redgrave, Helen Mirren, Benicio Del Torro, Sam Shepard, Mickey Rourke,
Aaron Eckhart and Harry Dean Stanton.
Stage direction for
Aaron Eckhart and Sam Shepard
Black is biutiful - Partnerlook at the premiere of 'The Pledge'
Aaron Eckhart, Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn and Jack Nicholson
much deserved third oscar nomination followed the next year, for I am
Sam - a film in the tradition of Rainmain and Forrest Gump, wonderfully
interpreted from Sean Penn as the mentaly retarded father Sam, who
fights for custody for his daughter Lucy (introducing Dakota Fanning ).
For the Fox studios, Sean Penn was to dark and not sympathetic enough
for this part, but director and author Jessie Nelson just wouldn't do it
with anybody else.
Jessie Nelson: 'So than began a battle of my saying 'I don't want to
do it with anybody else' and them telling me 'Forget it'. (...) Finally
they gave me one week to set it up at another studio. And God bless New
Line stepped up to the plate and we were out of jail.' And gladly she remembers working with Sean Penn: 'Sean sort of
carries the energy of whatever scene he's shooting and for the scenes
that were gut-wrenching, he'd be fanning that fire all day long. I
couldn't get over how much laughter he'd bring, though. Sean loves to
laugh and to make other people laugh.'
Michelle Pfeiffer, Sean Penn
and Dakota Fanning
at the premiere of 'I am Sam'
Oh ... speaking
of the Oscars ... Well Sean Penn never attended this event. In his opinion
the best acting performances were overlooked anyway. 'Im not somebody you'd want to go to most American movies with,' he
once said. 'I'd really upset you. I get crazy. I feel like they're all
up there saying You're an idiot! You're an idiot!'