Astin, Sean (Patrick) 1971–

Updated About content Print Article Share Article
views updated

ASTIN, Sean (Patrick) 1971–

PERSONAL: Born Sean Patrick Duke, February 25, 1971, in Santa Monica, CA; son of Michael Tell (a rock promoter) and Patty Duke (an actor); adopted son of John Astin (an actor); married Christine Louise Harrell (an actor and producer), July 11, 1992; children: Alexandra Louise, Elizabeth Louise. Education: Los Angeles Valley College; University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. (honors); Stella Adler Conservatory.

ADDRESSES: Home—Los Angeles, CA. Office—P.O. Box 57858, Sherman Oaks, CA 91413. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: Actor, director, producer, and writer. Cofounder of Lava Entertainment. Member of board of directors of Patrons Association and arts council, Los Angeles Valley College.

Actor in feature films, including The Goonies, 1985; White Water Summer, 1987; Like Father like Son, 1987; Staying Together, 1989; Memphis Belle, 1990; The Willies, 1991; Toy Soldiers, 1991; Encino Man, 1992; Where the Day Takes You, 1992; Rudy, 1993; Safe Passage, 1994; The Low Life, 1995; Courage under Fire, 1996; Bulworth, 1998; Boy Meets Girl, 1998; Icebreaker, 1999; Kimberly, 1999; Deterrence, 1999; The Sky Is Falling, 2000; The Last Producer, 2000; Lord of the Rings (trilogy), 2001–03; Fifty First Dates, 2004; Elvis Has Left the Building, 2004; Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, 2005; Slipstream, 2005; Bigger than the Sky, 2005; and Smile, 2005. Director and coproducer of short films On My Honor, 1988; and Kangaroo Court, 1994.

Appeared on television, including series and talk shows. Television movies include Please Don't Hit Me, Mom, 1981; The Rules of Marriage, 1982; The B.R.A.T. Patrol, 1986; Harrison Bergeron, 1995; Party Wagon (voice), 2004; and Into the West (miniseries), 2005. Director of television programs and episodes, including anthology series Perversions of Science, Home Box Office (HBO); and Angel, USA network.

MEMBER: Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best actor award, Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, 1995, for role in The Low Life; Academy Award nomination, for best live-action short film, 1995, for Kangaroo Court; best supporting actor awards, Seattle Film Critics, and Las Vegas Film Critics Society, both 2003, both for role in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.


(With Joe Layden) There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Author of screenplay for short film The Long and Short of It, 2003.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Producing and directing the film Isaac's Storm.

SIDELIGHTS: Sean Astin, who began acting at the age of ten, reflects on his life in the entertainment business in his memoir There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale. Astin, who collaborated with Joe Layden to write the book, goes back to his childhood in Hollywood; raised as the son of actors John Astin and Patty Duke, Astin writes about how he would only learn much later that his biological father was actually a rock concert promoter named Michael Tell. He describes his early roles and how he established some success in the film industry, most notably playing the title role in the 1993 film Rudy, about a young walk-on member of the University of Notre Dame football team. By the end of the 1990s, however, Astin's career stalled when he landed the role of Samwise "Sam" Gamgee in the film version of J. R. R. Tolkien's classic "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Much of There and Back Again focuses on Astin's experience in New Zealand making the three films that comprise the trilogy, including his relationship with director Peter Jacskon and his fellow actors and the challenges they faced during filming. A maker of short films himself, Astin also describes a short movie he made while in New Zealand, using the crew and cast from the Lord of the Rings films. Writing in Library Journal, Martha Cornog noted that Astin presents a complete portrait of himself prior to landing the pivotal role of Gamgee, and "when we arrive on the set, we empathize with Astin's self-doubts while cheering him on." Cornog called the book "Highly recommended for film and general collections." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that, although the author "tries to portray himself as a major star, thus exaggerating his actual status," Astin's memoir nonetheless "succeeds as a brutally frank, hard-hitting portrait of the film business."



Astin, Sean, and Joe Layden, There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Newsmakers, Issue 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2005.


America's Intelligence Wire, October 1, 2004, Bill O'Reilly, "Back of the Book: Interview with Sean Astin."

Entertainment Weekly, January 16, 2003, pp. 30-31; October 1, 2004, Gilbert Cruz, review of There and Back Again, p. 77.

Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Martha Cornog, review of There and Back Again, p. 151.

Publishers Weekly, September 27, 2004, review of There and Back Again, p. 48.


Internet Movie Database, (March 30, 2005), "Sean Astin."

Looking Closer, (March 30, 2005), Jeffrey Overstreet, interview with Astin.

Sean Astin Home Page, (March 30, 2005).