The Lowdown: Things you didn’t know about Sean Penn

February 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Features


Sean Penn has won two Oscars in the last five years – firstly for Mystic River in 2004 and on Sunday he picked up the little man for best actor in Milk. He’s renowned for his political activism, and even visited Iraq prior to the invasion to assess the information for himself, writing about the experience for the San Francisco Chronicle. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Sean Penn is not only an awesome actor but also a generally amazing person (although marrying Madonna was a bit of a slip). As our tribute to a great actor and a pretty cool guy, TRIVIAAAHHHHH!

1. Penn part owned a restaurant in Paris called Man Ray with Johnny Depp, Mick Hucknall and John Malkovich. It’s now some lobster bar (which turns out to be nowhere near as fun as I imagined it would be.)

2. A voracious opponent of Bush’s foreign policies in Iraq, Penn took out a $56,000 ad in the Washington Post, basically petitioning Bush to stop being such an arse, in rather more delicate terms.

3. Though he and Robin Wright Penn only married in 1996, they had already been living together for five years, and had even gone through seeing their house burnt to the ground in the Malibu fires of 1993.

4. During his tempestuous marriage to Madonna, Penn was arrested at least twice. At one point he spent 32 days in jail for punching an extra. Not cool.

5. Rumoured to have found a paparazzo hiding in his and Madonna’s hotel room. In response, Penn hung the unfortunate photographer out of the window by his ankles. Very cool, considering it was nine floors up and paparazzi give photojournalists a bad name.

6. Before briefly quitting smoking on his fortieth birthday, Penn was known as one of Hollywood’s heaviest smokers, on four packs a day.

7. Sean Penn’s father, Leo Penn, was also an actor and was blacklisted during Hollywood’s red scare years. Ooh, a communist. Terrifying.

8. One of Penn’s kids with Robin Wright Penn is called Hopper Jack. You’d think he’d be bullied but I’m guessing not – the name is a tribute to family friends Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.

9. Whilst filming a kissing scene in Milk, Penn’s fake moustache fell into James Franco’s mouth. Apparently afterwards, he sent a text to Madonna saying “just popped my cherry kissing a guy. Thought of you. Don’t know why.”

10. There’s an indie band called seanpenn in Holland. They call themselves “emorock until dawn”. We call them godawful.

By Chris Harding