Sean Astin

Sean Astin

Astin at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con
Born Sean Patrick Duke
(1971-02-25) February 25, 1971
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Alma mater UCLA
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Christine Harrell (m. 1992)
Children 3
Parent(s) Patty Duke
John Astin (adoptive father)
Relatives Mackenzie Astin (brother)

Sean Patrick Astin (born Sean Patrick Duke; February 25, 1971) is an American actor, director, voice artist, and producer. He is known for his film roles as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies (1985), and the title character of Rudy (1993). In television, he appeared as Lynn McGill in season five of 24[1] and voices Raphael in the 2012 Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series, Oso in the Disney Junior show Special Agent Oso, and Chester the cat in Bunnicula.

Early life

Astin was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of actress Patty Duke (1946–2016).[2][3][4] At the time, it was reported that entertainer Desi Arnaz, Jr. was his biological father. When Michael Tell, a writer, music promoter and publisher of the newspaper The Las Vegas Israelite, came to sublet her apartment and offered to marry her as a way out of the scandal, Duke agreed. The marriage lasted only 13 days in 1970, and ended long before Astin was born.[5][6][7]

On August 5, 1972, Duke married actor John Astin, after having been in a relationship with him for two years. When the wedding guests were invited to speak, 18-month-old Astin looked at John and cried, "Daddy!", to which the Episcopal priest performing the ceremony remarked, "Well, that about does it!"[8] Astin subsequently adopted Sean. In 1973, Duke gave birth to Astin's brother, Mackenzie Astin, who also became an actor. Duke and John Astin divorced in 1985.[9] Duke married Mike Pearce in 1986,[5] and they adopted a son, Kevin, in 1989.[9]

When he was 14, Duke told Astin that Arnaz was his father, and the two developed a relationship. But in his mid-20s, Astin met a relative of Michael Tell who suggested they were related. Sean set out to find the truth about his biological father, and underwent genetic tests that showed that Tell was his biological father.[10] Astin maintains close relationships with all three men, saying, "Desi Arnaz Jr. loves me, and I love him. We are so close...Science tells me...that he's not my biological father. Science tells me that Mike Tell is." Astin considers John his father, as John was the one who raised him. Astin is also close to his step-father, Mike Pearce, saying, "I can call any of them on the phone any time I want to," says Sean. "John, Desi, Mike or Papa four dads."[5]

Astin is of German and Irish ancestry through his mother, and Austrian Jewish through his biological father.[11][12] He attended Catholic school and later converted to Protestant Christianity,[13] attending a Presbyterian church in Bel Air, California, US.

Astin attended the Crossroads High School for the Arts and master classes at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History and English (American literature and culture). An alumnus of Los Angeles Valley College, Astin served on the school's board of directors of the Patrons Association and the Arts Council.[14]


Early career

Astin's first acting role was in a 1981 television movie titled Please Don't Hit Me, Mom, in which he played a child with an abusive mother (portrayed by his real-life mother Patty Duke). He made his film debut at age 13 as Mikey in The Goonies (1985).

After The Goonies, Astin appeared in several more films, including the Disney made-for-TV movie, The B.R.A.T. Patrol, opposite Nia Long, Tim Thomerson and Brian Keith; Like Father Like Son (1987); White Water Summer with Kevin Bacon (1987), The War of the Roses (1989); the World War II film Memphis Belle (1990); Toy Soldiers (1991); Encino Man (1992); and the college football biopic Rudy (1993), about the life-changing struggles and rewards of the titular character, Daniel Ruettiger.

In 1994, Astin directed and co-produced (with his wife, Christine Astin) the short film Kangaroo Court, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Astin continued to appear in films throughout the 1990s, including the Showtime science fiction film Harrison Bergeron (1995), the Gulf War film Courage Under Fire (1996), and the Warren Beatty political satire Bulworth (1998).

The Lord of the Rings

In the early 2000s, Astin experienced a career breakthrough with his role as Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, released in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Along with the many awards bestowed upon the trilogy, particularly its final installment The Return of the King (winner of eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture), Astin received many award nominations for his own performance in Return of the King, taking home the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor. As an ensemble, the Return of the King cast received awards from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the Screen Actors Guild.

He and other cast members became close friends through the filming process. He became particularly good friends with Elijah Wood.

Astin's daughter, Alexandra, can be seen the closing scene of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. She plays his onscreen daughter, Elanor Gamgee, who runs out to him as he returns from the harbor, where he said goodbye to Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandalf.

While working on The Lord of the Rings, Astin persuaded a number of fellow cast and crew members, including director Peter Jackson, to assist him in making his second short film, The Long and Short of It. The film takes place on a street in Wellington, New Zealand. The Long and Short of It premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and appears on the DVD for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, along with a "making of" video.

In 2004, Astin released There and Back Again (ISBN 0-312-33146-0), a memoir (co-written with Joe Layden) of his film career with emphasis on his experiences with the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The title is derived from the subtitle of J. R. R. Tolkien's novel The Hobbit, as well as the fictional book written by Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

Post-Lord of the Rings

Astin at UIUC, 2009

Since Lord of the Rings, Astin has continued to work in film and television. His film roles have included the Adam Sandler comedies 50 First Dates and Click. Astin played the role of Malibu High School principal Mike Matthews in the movie Smile.

In television, Astin guest-starred as Lynn McGill throughout the fifth season of the Fox drama 24. He also appeared in the made-for-TV films Hercules and The Colour of Magic and in episodes of Monk, Las Vegas, My Name is Earl (in which he parodied his 1993 film Rudy with co-stars Charles S. Dutton and Chelcie Ross), and Law & Order, among other shows. He directed a 2003 episode of the TV series Angel, titled "Soulless". He played the enigmatic Mr. Smith on the second season of the Showtime series Jeremiah.

Astin's career has also expanded to include voice-over roles. He narrated the American version of the Animal Planet series Meerkat Manor, and voices the title character in the animated Disney Channel series Special Agent Oso.[15] His other voice work includes Balto III: Wings of Change, in which he voiced Kodi, a teenage husky who is the son of the titular character, and the video game Kingdom Hearts, in the latter of which he provided the voice of Hercules, replacing actor Tate Donovan, who was unavailable but would return for Kingdom Hearts II. Astin is currently the voice of Raphael in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series on Nickelodeon, which premiered on September 29, 2012.

In 2010, he joined the Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective acting company.[16] He and his wife, Christine, are making a movie based on Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning novel Number the Stars.[17][18]

Astin portrays the role of Matthew in The Truth & Life Dramatized audio New Testament Bible, a 22-hour, celebrity-voiced, fully dramatized audio version of the New Testament, which uses the RSV-CE.

In March 2012, Astin played a cosmetic surgeon named Takin Mastuhmik in a fake movie trailer entitled Boobathon which appeared on Funny or Die.

In March 2014, Astin played a soldier in Boys of Abu Ghraib, a military thriller inspired by the events that made worldwide news in 2004.[19][20] In June of that year, he began playing the role of Jim Kent on the FX drama The Strain.[21]

Personal life

Astin married Christine Harrell on July 11, 1992. They have three daughters: Alexandra (born 1996), Elizabeth (born 2002), and Isabella (born 2005), all with the middle name Louise. His wife held the Miss Indiana Teen USA title in 1984.

Astin has a tattoo on his ankle of the word "nine" written with the Tengwar script, commemorating his Lord of the Rings involvement and his character's membership in the Fellowship of the Ring. Seven of the eight other Fellowship actors (Elijah Wood, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen and Orlando Bloom) all have the same tattoo. John Rhys-Davies' stunt double, Brett Beattie, has the tattoo as well.

During the 2004 United States presidential election, Astin backed Senator John Kerry and participated in Kerry's campaign rally in Portland, Oregon, as the opening speaker.[22] In the 2008 presidential election, Astin lent his support to Senator Hillary Clinton and made multiple campaign appearances on her behalf, including joining Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, at some stops.[23] In the 2016 presidential election, Astin campaigned for Secretary Clinton in Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin.[24]

Astin served as the campaign manager for Democrat Dan Adler, a businessman friend in the entertainment industry, for California's 36th congressional district special election, 2011.[25]

Astin is a vegetarian.[26]

On October 10, 2015, Astin competed in the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Wearing number 143, Astin finished the race in a time of 15:30:31.[27]

Partial filmography


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Goonies, TheThe Goonies Mikey Walsh
1987 Like Father Like Son Clarence
White Water Summer Alan
1989 War of the Roses, TheThe War of the Roses Josh (age 17)
Staying Together Duncan McDermott
1990 Memphis Belle Sergeant Richard "Rascal" Moore
1991 Toy Soldiers William Tepper
The Willies Michael
1992 Where the Day Takes You Greg
Encino Man Dave Morgan
1993 Rudy Daniel Ruettiger
1994 Safe Passage Izzy Singer
1995 Low Life, TheThe Low Life Andrew
Harrison Bergeron Harrison Bergeron
1996 Courage Under Fire Patella
1997 Wag the Dog Singer Uncredited role
1998 Boy Meets Girl Mike
Bulworth Gary
1999 Deterrence Ralph
Kimberly Bob
2000 Dish Dogs Morgan
Last Producer, TheThe Last Producer Bo Pomerantz
Icebreaker Matt Foster
Sky is Falling, TheThe Sky is Falling Schwartz
2001 Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, TheThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Samwise Gamgee
2002 Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, TheThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Samwise Gamgee
2003 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, TheThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Samwise Gamgee
2004 Balto III: Wings of Change Kodi Voice
Elvis Has Left the Building Aaron
50 First Dates Doug Whitmore
2005 Smile Mike Matthews
Bigger Than the Sky Ken Zorbell
Slipstream Stuart Conway Direct-to-DVD
Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School Kip Kipling
Borderland Randall
Thanks to Gravity Coach Amal Direct-to-DVD
2006 What Love Is George Direct-to-VOD
Asterix and the Vikings Justforkix English voice
Click Bill
2007 Final Season, TheThe Final Season Kent Stock
2008 Forever Strong Marcus
Spirit of the Forest Furi Voice role
2009 Stay Cool Big Girl Direct-to-VOD
2011 Demoted Mike Direct-to-VOD
2012 Boobathon Takin Mastuhmik Funny or Die fake trailer
Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea Stuart Direct-to-DVD
2013 The Freemason Leon Weed Direct-to-DVD
2014 Justice League: War Shazam Voice role
Boys of Abu Ghraib Staff Sergeant Tanner Direct-to-VOD
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero Porter[28] [29] Direct-to-DVD
Moms' Night Out Sean[30] [31]
Video Games: The Movie Narrator Documentary
Ribbit Ribbit Voice role
The Hero of Color City Horatio Voice role
The Surface Mitch Direct-to-VOD
2015 Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Shazam Voice role
Do You Believe? Dr. Farell
Woodlawn Hank
Checkmate Dyson
2016 The Do-Over[32] Ted-O
Range 15 Grigsby
2017 Bad Kids of Crestview Academy Headmaster Nash In post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Please Don't Hit Me, Mom Brian Reynolds
1982 The Rules of Marriage Charlie Hagen
1985 The O'Briens The Son
1986 B.R.A.T. Patrol, TheThe B.R.A.T. Patrol Leonard Kinsey
2003 Angel N/A Director (episode: "Soulless")
2003–04 Jeremiah Mister Smith Main role (Season 2)
2005 Hercules Linus Main role
Into The West Martin Jarrett Miniseries
2005–07 Meerkat Manor Narrator Seasons 13
2006 24 Lynn McGill Main role (Season 5)
2007 Masters of Science Fiction Charlie Kramer Episode: "Watchbird" (unaired in U.S.)
Monk Paul Buchanan Episode: "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service"
My Name Is Earl Salesman Episode: "Get a Real Job"
2008 Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic Twoflower Movie
Law & Order Pastor Hensley Episode: "Angelgrove"
2009–12 Special Agent Oso Agent Oso Voice role (22 episodes)
2011 Love's Christmas Journey Mayor Wayne Movie
2012 NCIS Tyler Elliot Episode: "The Tell"
Adopting Terror Tim Movie
Dorothy and the Witches of Oz Frack Miniseries
Hollywood Treasure Himself Episode: "Riddler Rudy and the Ruby Slippers"
Franklin and Bash Viper Episode: "Viper"
Alphas Mitchell 2 episodes
2012–present Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael Voice role
2013 Santa Switch Eddie[33] Movie
2014 The Strain Jim Kent Main role (9 episodes)
2015 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Blaze 2 episodes; voice role[34][35]
2016 Bunnicula Chester Voice role
The Loud House Loni Voice role (episode: "One of the Boys")[36]
2017 Stranger Things Bob Newby Season 2

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Kingdom Hearts Hercules English version
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Samwise Gamgee
2010 The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest Samwise Gamgee
2012 Lego The Lord of the Rings Samwise Gamgee Archive recordings
2013 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael
2015 Lego Dimensions Samwise Gamgee
2016 Minecraft: Story Mode Reginald

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result
1985 Young Artist Awards Best Starring Performance by a Young Actor – Motion Picture The Goonies Won
1989 Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture Staying Together Won
1991 Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Toy Soldiers Nominated
1994 Academy Awards Best Live Action Short Film Kangaroo Court Nominated
2001 Online Film & Television Association Best Ensemble The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2002 MTV Movie Awards MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Team (shared with Elijah Wood and Gollum/Andy Serkis) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Won
Visual Effects Society Best Performance by an Actor in an Effects Film (shared with Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis) Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2003 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
National Board of Review Best Cast Won
Online Film & Television Association Best Ensemble Won
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Male or Female Actor Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated


  1. "Rings star Astin joins 24 TV show". BBC News. BBC. 28 August 2005. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  2. "Astin, Sean (Patrick) 1971–". Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  3. "Personal Biography". Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  4. "Sean Astin". IGN. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 "Sean Astin's Childhood With Patty Duke". ABC News. July 31, 2004.
  6. "Sean Astin Q&A at GenCon 2003". August 1, 2003. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  7. Barrett, Victoria (December 19, 2003). "I don't want to play the fat guy or the friend all my life". London: Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  8. Armstrong, Lois (October 17, 1977). "For Taming Precocious Patty Duke, John Astin Is a Miracle Worker". People. Vol. 8, No. 16
  9. 1 2 "Patty Duke Biography". Bio.. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  10. Dam, Julie K.L; Jordan, Julie (January 14, 2002). "Hobbit Forming". People Magazine. Time Inc. Retrieved January 11, 2016. DNA tests ... proved Tell to be his father.
  11. "Sean Astin Q&A at GenCon 2003 | Hobbit Movie News and Rumors". August 1, 2003. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  12. "Heritage of Michael Tell". Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  13. Kennedy, John W. (August 2013). "Sean Astin talks about his eclectic faith journey, his love of animals and his role in an upcoming Christian comedy from the Erwin Brothers". Beliefnet. Retrieved January 30, 2014. JWK: I understand that you’re a Presbyterian now. SA: Lutheran, technically now, I think...
  14. "Sean Astin '97". 2015-05-22. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  15. Banks, Dave (June 11, 2009). "Q&A With Sean Astin – Star of Disney's New Kids' Show Special Agent Oso". Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  16. "Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective Announces Inaugural Season 2010/02/26". Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  17. Marilyn Beck; Stacy Jenel Smith (16 July 2011). "Diahann Carroll Diamond Birthday Arrives, PBS Special Soon to Air". Beck/Smith Hollywood. Wordpress. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  18. Lava Entertainment. "Number The Stars". Number The Stars. Lava Entertainment. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  19. "IMDB Full Credits of Boys of Abu Ghraib". Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  20. Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
  21. "The Strain".
  22. Calisuri and Corvar and Arathorn (May 17, 2004). "Sean Astin at Portland, OR Rally for John Kerry".
  23. "Chelsea Clinton, 'Rudy' start to stump at IU". Indiana Daily Student. Retrieved March 28, 2008.
  24. "Hobbit Star Stumps for Clinton". WOI-DT (Local ABC 5). Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  25. Pappas, Alex (18 May 2011). "Sean Astin's candidate gets less than 300 votes". The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  26. International Vegetarian Union (2 April 2010). "Famous Vegetarians – Sean Astin". International Vegetarian Union. International Vegetarian Union. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  27. "IRONMAN World Championship Results – IRONMAN Official Site". Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  28. Doc Rotten (March 8, 2014). "Film Review: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)". Retrieved July 29, 2014. Sean Astin steps into the role of Mr. Porter
  29. Collis, Clark (July 23, 2014). "Sean Astin bugs out in 'Cabin Fever: Patient Zero' clip". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  30. "Erwin Brothers Wrap Filming On Family Comedy 'MOMS' NIGHT OUT'" (Press release). Birmingham, Alabama: Sony Pictures. PR Newswire. June 24, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2014. ... a wife and her husband, played by Grey's Anatomy's Sarah Drew as Allyson and Sean Astin as Sean
  31. Law, Jeannie (January 21, 2014). "'Moms' Night Out' Movie Featuring Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, and Sarah Drew Portrays 'Christians in a Positive Light'". BREATHEcast. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  32. Evry, Max (March 21, 2016). "The Do-Over Trailer: Adam Sandler is Back in Action on Netflix". CraveOnline Media. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  33. "Breaking News". The Futon Critic. October 8, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  34. "Penn Zero: Become A Part-Time Hero with Sam Levine, Jared Bush, and Balls". March 27, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  35. "Disney Channel PR twitter feed". Twitter. September 30, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  36. "One of the Boys". CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 26, 2016.

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