Sean Astin Biography

Actor (1971–)
Actor Sean Astin has starred in such beloved films as 'The Goonies,' 'Rudy' and 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.


Actor Sean Astin, son of actress Patty Duke, first found fame in the popular Steven Spielberg comedy The Goonies in 1985. In 1993, he starred in the inspiring sports story Rudy. Astin then won over audiences everywhere with his performance as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, beginning with the first film's release in 2001. More recently, Astin has appeared on the 2014 TV series The Strain.

Challenging Childhood

Born on February 25, 1971, in Santa Monica, California, actor Sean Astin comes from a famous Hollywood family. His mother is Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke and his adopted father is actor John Astin of The Addams Family fame. He didn't learn that he was adopted by Astin until he was much older. His mother told him that actor and musician Desi Arnaz Jr. was his biological father, but a paternity test later revealed that, in fact, music promoter Michael Tell was his father.

While his mother was very successful professionally, Patty Duke struggled in her personal life. Sean and his younger brother Mackenzie had to cope with her unstable moods growing up. Astin told ABC News that his mother could go into rages at times. She was later diagnosed with manic depression.

Early Acting Career

Sean Astin had his first acting job in the 1981 TV movie Please Don't Hit Me, Mom, appearing opposite his real-life mom. Four years later, he made his film debut as "Mikey" in Steve Spielberg's The Goonies (1985). The Goonies proved to be a big hit, and more film roles soon followed for Astin. He worked with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron on the 1987 comedy Like Father Like Son and with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner on the 1989 dark domestic comedy The War of the Roses. Taking on a more mature role, Astin played a soldier in the World War II film Memphis Belle (1990).

In 1993, Astin landed the title role in the biographical sports film Rudy. The movie tells the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger who wanted to play football at Notre Dame University but was considered to be too small for the team. The film has become a classic tale of an underdog beating all the odds. The following year, Astin earned an Academy Award nomination for a short film he directed and produced entitled Kangaroo Court.

'The Lord of the Rings'

Astin embarked on a new phase of his career in 1999 when he relocated to New Zealand to make The Lord of the Rings film series. He played Samwise Gamgee, a sweet and devoted friend to Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood. Samwise accompanies Frodo on a dangerous quest—a mission that stretches across three films. Wood told the Orlando Sentinel that Astin mirrored his character in real life, calling him "a great guy, so genuine." But Astin clarified that "Nobody could be that good, that noble."

In 2001, the first installment of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, hit theaters and quickly became a huge international smash. The next film, The Two Towers, was released in 2002, and the series wrapped up with 2003's The Return of the King. After the hugely popular trilogy ended, Astin shared his experiences making these legendary films in the 2004 memoir There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale.

Astin has gone on to tackle more film and television projects. He appeared in the Showtime series Jeremiah from 2003 to 2004, the popular action thriller 24 in 2006 and the sci-fi drama The Strain in 2014. On the big screen, Astin appeared in numerous films, including 50 Dates (2004), Click (2006) and Moms' Night Out (2014). Astin is also a popular voice-over performer. He has worked on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series and such films as Ribbit (2014).

Personal Life

Astin married Christine Harrell in 1992. The couple has three daughters together, Alexandra, Elizabeth and Isabella. In addition to acting, Astin is a long-distance runner.

Sean Astin

(Photo: via WikiCommons)

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