Chris Penn biography

The Pledge

Chris Penn

Date of Birth: June 10, 1962

Described as "quietly powerful" by critics, Chris Penn, the brother of Sean, started acting at the age of 12 at the Loft Studio in Los Angeles, and trained under the tutelage of Peggy Feury.

In 1983, he made his feature film debut in Francis Ford Coppola's youth drama Rumble Fish as a rowdy member of Matt Dillon's clique. That was followed by a small role in the high school football drama All the Right Moves, starring Tom Cruise. Most people remember him from the hit dance musical Footloose (1984). Clint Eastwood spotted him and was so impressed by his abilities that he cast him in his 1985 box office winner Pale Rider. Penn's following film was a family affair, as evidenced by his participation in the powerful drama At Close Range (1986) in which he co-starred with brother, Sean, and his actress-mother, Eileen Ryan.

Not usually cast as the leading man, Penn is a great team player and has worked, and stood out, among incredible actors in ensemble casts in movies like Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992), True Romance (1993), Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), the comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1985), and Mulholland Falls (1996). In 1996, Penn won the best-supporting actor at the Venice film festival for The Funeral . The film also won the special jury prize. There were even whispers of Penn getting an Oscar® nomination but it never eventuated.

Recent appearances include Murder By Numbers , Stealing Harvard and Marked and Anonymous. He has several new films about to be released, including the much anticipated Starsky & Hutch (2004), starring Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller and in addition, plays a lead role in David E. Kelley's CBS television drama The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hamphire, which debuted September 24, 2003.

Penn was found dead of natural causes at his Santa Monica home on January 24, 2006. He was 40 years old.