“I spent the film doing lots of things, but the crying is what lived. He [Peter
Jackson] tricks you into thinking you’re going to get to do all these brave,
heroic things most of the time, and you have to cry once in a while ... and then
he cuts out the heroic moments and you’re left thinking, ‘I look like a big
baby.’” Sean Astin on his role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy
For many, American actor/director Sean Astin is probably identical with Hobbit
Sam, his character in the famous trilogy of the Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King
(2003), which brought him higher eminence as well as various awards, like a
Screen Actors Guild Award, a National Board of Review Award, a Las Vegas Film
Critics Society Award, a Seattle Film Critics Award, two Visual Effects Society
Awards, a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, and an MTV Movie Award.
Previously, Astin won a Fort Lauderdale Film Festival Award thanks to his superb
part of Andrew in The Low Life (1995). A Hollywood phenomenon, the actor has
rocked the American movie industry and was a two-time winner of the Young Artist
Award after impressively delivering roles in Staying Together (1989) and The
Goonies (1985). As a skilled director, Astin was nominated for an Oscar for the
short movie Kangaroo Court (1994).
Off camera, the actor is the owner of Lava Entertainment, the production company
he formed with Milton Justice in the late ‘80s. The hazel-eyed Astin published
his autobiography. “There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale,” in 2004.
He is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and
the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Also, he serves as the
Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, is a Verizon Literacy Champion and
the National Center for Family Literacy celebrity spokesperson, as well as is
part of the Board of Directors of the Patrons Association and the Arts Council
for Los Angeles Valley College (Astin’s previous school). Privately, Astin is
married to Christine Astin, and is a father of three daughters.
Childhood and Family:
In Santa Monica, California, Sean Patrick Astin was born on February 25, 1971,
to actor parents John Astin (born on March 30, 1930) and Patty Duke (Anna Marie
Duke, born on December 14, 1946). The only brother of actor Mackenzie Alexander
Astin (born on May 12, 1973), Sean also has three half brothers from his
father’s previous marriage. In 1985, his parents divorced and later his mother
married Mike Pearce, making him a half brother of Kevin Michael Pearce.
Graduating from Crossroads High School for the Arts, Sean continued his studies
at the University of California in Los Angeles, taking History and English
Literature programs. An alumnus of Los Angeles Valley College, he also attended
classes at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles. Sean, whose genetic
background brought him to the movie industry at the age of 9, decided to devote
himself to the filmmaking world.
The actor first met his wife, actress/ producer Christine Astin (born in 1970),
while in college. They were married on July 11, 1992, and are the parents of
three daughters: Alexandra Astin (born on November 27, 1996), Elizabeth Louise
Astin (born August 6 2002) and Isabella Louise Astin (born July 22, 2005).
Sean Astin launched his professional career in acting at an early age with the
role of Brian Reynolds, a boy abused by his mother (played by his real mother
Patty Duke) in the ABC Afterschool Special film Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom (1981).
He then played Charlie Hagen in another TV drama about a troubled family, The
Rules of Marriage (1982).
Demonstrating his true talent for acting, Astin undertook his first leading part
of Mikey Walsh in the Steven Spielberg and Chris Columbus-written family movie
The Goonies (1985) and won a Young Artist for Best Starring Performance by a
Young Actor. After the TV family film The B.R.A.T. Patrol (1986) and the silver
screen comedy Like Father Like Son (1987), the teenaged actor took on a deeper
area of interest and made his directing debut with On My Honor (1988, also
produced), a 20-minute film about teamwork between an American and Vietnamese
A year later, the young actor received his second Young Artist award for the
role of Duncan McDermott in the comedy drama Staying Together (1989). He next
appeared as Sgt. Richard “Rascal” Moore in the WWII drama Memphis Belle (1990),
portrayed rebellious, yet heroic, dropout William ‘Billy’ Tepper in the action
drama Toy Soldiers (1991), was seen with Brendan Fraser in Encino Man (1992) and
had the titular role of an undervalued college football player in the sport
biopic Rudy (1993). Astin also acted alongside Susan Sarandon, Nick Stahl and
Marcia Gay Harden in the adaptation of Ellyn Bache’s novel Safe Passage (1994).
The same year, the young director confirmed his skill in directing and
co-produced with the short film Kangaroo Court, which soon received an Oscar
nomination for Best Short Subject. His off-camera achievement was ensued with a
brilliant performance as Andrew in the sleeper The Low Life (1995), which won
Astin a Fort Lauderdale Film Festival award for Best Actor. Following a stint in
Courage Under Fire (1996), Astin played Taylor in his self-directed sci-fi
Perversions of Science (1997). He also took roles in Warren Beatty’s political
satire Bulworth (1998) and the little-seen Kimberly (1999) before directing TV’s
“100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd” (1999-2002), featuring Seth Green and Jason Hervey
as the voice of the titular dog character.
The star of the action movie Icebreaker (2000), Astin had his name catapulted to
world fame as Sam, a humble, sincere Hobbit on a quest, in the highly praised,
three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel: The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). In the three Peter Jackson
epic projects, the performer harvested critical applause, taking home awards
like a Las Vegas Film Critics Society and a Seattle Film Critics for Best
Supporting Actor, two Visual Effects Societies for Best Actor in an Effects
Film, a National Board of Review and a Broadcast Film Critics Association for
Best Ensemble, a Screen Actors Guild for Best Performance by a Cast, and an MTV
Movie for Best On-Screen Team (shared with Elijah Wood).
Aside from the lucrative project, Astin was one of the directors of the sci-fi
drama “Jeremiah” (2002), in which he also had the recurring role of Mister Smith
(2003-2004). He also developed the story and screenplay and served as the
director and producer for the short drama The Long and Short of It (2003), which
was filmed during his acting work on The Lord of the Rings’ franchise. The same
year, he also directed an episode of “Angel,” titled “Soulless.”
As an actor, Astin was cast as Doug Whitmore in the romantic comedy 50 First
Dates (2004), with actors Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, as well as Stuart
Conway in the self-produced sci-fi Slipstream (2005). Recently, he joined the
cast of the international drama series “24” (2006), as Lynn McGill, a new member
of the Counter Terrorist Unit. The performer also re-teamed with Adam Sandler in
the fantasy comedy Click (2006), for director Frank Coraci.
Astin will continue delivering roles in such comedy movies as The Guys (2006,
TV) and What Love Is (2006, opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. and Matthew Lillard).
Giving the horror genre a try, the actor is set to take part in Robin Hardy’s
Cowboys for Christ (2006). He will then play baseball coach Kent Stock in The
Final Season (2007, also executive produced) and provide the voice for Rover, a
cat trying to find his roots, in the animated movie Cat Tale (2008).
Visual Effects Society: Outstanding Performance by a Male or Female
Actor in an Effects Film, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion
Picture, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2004
Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actor, The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King, 2004
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Acting Ensemble, The Lord of
the Rings: The Return of the King, 2004
Seattle Film Critics: Best Supporting Actor, The Lord of the Rings: The
Return of the King, 2003
National Board of Review: Best Ensemble Performance, The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King, 2003
Visual Effects Society: Best Performance by an Actor in an Effects Film,
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, 2003
MTV Movie: Best On-Screen Team, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers,
shared with Elijah Wood, 2003
Fort Lauderdale Film Festival: Best Actor, Low Life, 1995
Young Artist: Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture, Staying
Young Artist: Best Starring Performance by a Young Actor - Motion
Picture, The Goonies, 1986