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Chris Penn was born on June 10, 1962, in Los Angeles. He is sometimes credited in his earlier movies as "Christopher Penn". He is the son of director Leo Penn and actor Eileen Ryan. Two of his brothers, Sean and Mathew, are also actors. His other brother, Michael, is a musician. Michael had quite a bit of success with his album "March" a few years ago.
Chris Penn 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 Dillonís clique. He had 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). Itís one of the signature movies of the 80s. He plays the awkward Willard and in one of the filmís funniest, and stupidest scenes, Ren (Kevin Bacon) teaches him to dance. Clint Eastwood spotted him and was impressed with his abilities and cast him in his 1985 box office winner "Pale Rider." Penn's following film was a family affair, the powerful drama "At Close Range (1986)" in which he co-starred with his brother, Sean, and his actress-mother, Eileen Ryan. Chris was also in the Karate movie "Best of the Best"(1989) with Eric Roberts. It was followed by a sequel. Chris is not usually cast as the leading man but he is a great team player and has worked, and stood out, among incredible actors in ensemble casts in movies like Tarantinoís "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) , "True Romance" (1993), "Shortcuts"(1993), "To Wong Foo"(1985), and "Mulholland Falls"(1996). In 1996 Chris 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 Chris getting an Oscar nomination but it never eventuated. Film critic Roger Ebert describes Chris as "quietly powerful". Chrisí most recent theatrical release was "Rush Hour" starring Jackie Chan. He is currently working on several new projects including a new (as yet untitled film) directed by Abel Ferrara. Michael Rapaport will co-star.
Here are some lists of outstanding casts that Chris was a part of:
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner.
Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Treat Williams, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern, Daniel Baldwin, Andrew McCarthy, Ed Lauter, Aaron Neville,Richard Sylbert, Rob Lowe,William L. Peterson.
Christopher Walken, Vincent Gallo, Benicio Del Toro, Annabella Sciorra, Isabella Rossellini, Gretchen Mol.
Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Vincent Spano, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits, Sofia Coppola.
Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Sarah Jessica Parker.
At Close Range
Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kiefer Sutherland.
Christian Slater, Patrick Dempsey, Costas Mandylor, Richard Grieco, F. Murray Abraham, Michael Gambon, Lara Flynn Boyle, Anthony Quinn.
Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi,Quentin Tarantino.
Tim Robbins, Tom Waits, Lily Tomlin, Madeleine Stowe, Peter Gallagher, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Buck Henry, Huey Lewis, Bruce Davison, Andie MacDowell, Jack Lemmon, Lori Singer, Matthew Modine, Robert Downey Jr.,Lili Taylor, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lyle Lovett, Frances McDormand, Julianne Moore.