Date of Birth
25 December 1971, Santa Monica, California, USA
Sean Patrick Duke
5' 6" (1.68 m)
Sean Patrick Astin (nÃ© Duke; February 25, 1971) is an American actor, voice actor, screenwriter, director, producer, family man, author, marathon runner, political activist and philanthropist who is well known for his film debut portraying Mikey in Steven Spielberg's The Goonies (1985), for playing the title role in the critically acclaimed Rudy (1993), and for his role as the beloved Sam Gamgee in the Academy Award winning trilogy, 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).
Astin was born Sean Patrick Duke on February 25, 1971 in Santa Monica, California. His mother was actress Patty Duke. At the time of his birth, his biological father was believed to be entertainer Desi Arnaz Jr., but Astin discovered through a DNA test in the 1990s that his biological father is music promoter Michael Tell, who was married to Patty Duke in 1970. Sean was raised by his stepfather, actor John Astin, who married Patty Duke in 1972 and whose surname Sean took. Sean's mother was of Irish and more distant German ancestry, and Sean's biological father is of Austrian Jewish and Polish Jewish descent.
At age nine, Sean starred with his mother in the after-school special Please Don't Hit Me, Mom (1981). Followed by Sean's feature debut The Goonies (1985) and since then, he has had a steady stream of roles. Starring in Toy Soldiers (1991), Where the Day Takes You (1992), Rudy (1993) and Harrison Bergeron (1995). He directed and co-produced the short film Kangaroo Court (1994), which was nominated in the best short film category at The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995). Sean's adoptive father John Astin was nominated for the same award in 1969.
Sean experienced another career breakthrough with his role as the epitome of loyal sidekicks, Samwise Gamgee, in Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings" 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), Sean received nominations for his own performance. He took home the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, and awards from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Seattle Film Critics, the Utah Film Critics Association, and the Phoenix Film Critics Society. 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. In 2004, Sean authored the NY Times best seller "There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale," chronicling his acting career with emphasis on his experiences filming the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Sean has been a long-distance runner since his teens. His marathons include the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, where he had the honor of officially starting the race, the 2015 Boston Marathon as a member of charity fund-raising team MR8, and the New York City Marathon in 2016. He has done numerous half marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and races of other distances. He successfully completed the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, in October 2015; the grueling event consisted of a 2.4 mile open ocean swim, a 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 mile marathon.
In 2012, while training for the LA Marathon, he began a Twitter campaign using #Run3rd, a way to dedicate his runs to causes and ideas that mattered not just to him, but to others. The principle of #Run3rd is that Sean runs first for himself, since running is ultimately a solitary act, second for his ever-patient and supportive family, and third for others. #Run3rd has grown to include a team of runners, walkers, and others who dedicate their activities to the causes of others. A $25,000 grant from the Ironman Foundation will allow the charity to fund after school running programs for children in under-served school districts. More information on #Run3rd, including sponsored 5Ks, is available at run3rd.com.
Sean has served as a philanthropist on the board of several non-profit organizations, including the Creative Coalition, National Center for Family Literacy, and Los Angeles Valley College's Patrons Association and Arts Council. He is a vocal advocate on many issues including literacy, mental health awareness and civic engagement. After the passing of his mother in late March 2016, Sean began fund-raising to create a foundation to carry on her life's work as an advocate for mental health
Politically, Sean has been very active having served in two non-partisan Presidential appointments. Sean also hosts a live weekly 2 hour in-studio bi-partisan political radio talk show, 'Vox Populi Radio' which was made possible by a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2013. In 2004, Sean broke into the publishing world and authored the NY Times Best Selling release of There and Back Again a memoir of his film career (co-written with Joe Layden).
In addition to acting in live action films and television, Sean is also an accomplished voice actor. He has voiced several different characters in animated series, cartoons, animated movies, anime dubs and video games. His voice is also familiar to many. He narrated the Animal Planet series "Meerkat Manor" (2006-2007), and voiced the title characters in the animated Disney Channel series "Special Agent Oso" (2009-2012) and the animated feature film "Ribbit" (2014). He was the voice of Raphael in Nickelodeon's popular "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (2012-2017) as well as it's video games. He voiced the paranoid Siamese cat Chester in "Bunnicula" (2016-2018), a Warner Brothers produced series based on children's books by James Howe and narrates "The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants" (2018-2019) a series on Netflix, based on the Dav Pilkey's children's books. He can be heard in a plethora of other animated shows, anime dubs, video games, audio dramas and narrations. More recently, Sean was the Narrator of the Documentary called Remember the Sultana, which released on March 1st, 2018.
After four decades in front of camera or microphone, Sean has ventured in front of a theater audience, first as Joseph Stalin in a multimedia stage production of "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Fantasy," (2018-2019) and then as Dr. Moricet in "Bang Bang!" (2018), John Cleese's adaptation of a 19th century French farce.
Sean is also comfortable behind the camera, directing episodic TV and serving as producer on several films. He directed and co-produced with his wife Christine the short film "Kangaroo Court," nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1995. While working on "The Lord of the Rings," Sean made "The Long and Short of It." The film 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. He is currently working to bring "Number the Stars," based on Lois Lowry's Newbery Award winning children's classic, to the big screen.
While maintaining a career as a professional actor (in live action films and television) and a voice actor for characters in animated series, cartoons, animated movies, anime dubs and video games, Sean is also a political activist. Sean has been actively engaged in the political world since early in his life. He served in two non-partisan Presidential appointments. In 1995, under President Bill Clinton, he became a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, serving for 10 years under six secretaries in two administrations. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to his Council on Service and Civic Participation, whose mission was to promote a culture of volunteerism and civic engagement. He campaigned for presidential candidates John Kerry in 2004, and Hillary Clinton in 2008 and 2016. He also served as campaign manager for his friend, Dan Adler, in a special election for California's 36th congressional district race in 2011.
Sean attended Crossroads High School for the Arts and studied with the famous Stella Adler. He graduated with honors from UCLA; B.A. in History & B.A. in English American Literature and Culture. Sean is married to Christine Astin, his co-producer on Kangaroo Court (1994). He resides in Los Angeles, CA with his wife Christine Louise and daughters Alexandra (Ali) Louise, Elizabeth Louise, and Isabella (Bella) Louise. All of his daughters attend Harvard University.
First daughter Ali Astin was born. [November 1996]
Older half brother of actor Mackenzie Astin.
Has three other half brothers: David, Allen and Tom.
Son of Michael Tell and actress Patty Duke.
Left the room halfway during recording DVD commentary for The Goonies (1985) and never returned. The recording session started late, and Sean had an earlier commitment to introduce friend Joe Pantoliano who was M.C.'ing at a local theatre. Left the recording studio to change clothes, then returned to explain why he had to leave, give a "shout out to Joey Pants," and left an action figure of Sam Gamgee to take his place. However, the departure and explanation were edited out by the DVD producers.
His biological father is actually Michael Tell, whom Patty Duke was married to for less than a month in 1970. Sean was adopted at age 3 by John Astin, but considers both men to be his father.
Graduated from UCLA with honors & a B.A. in History & English.
On 4 December 2001, Sean had his image as Samwise Gamgee immortalized on a 90-cent New Zealand postage stamp that he shares with "Lord of the Rings" co-star Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins). However, Sean's last name is spelled incorrectly on the presentation pack of the stamps (Austin instead of Astin).
August 6, 2002, welcomed second child daughter Elizabeth Louise.
During a break in principal photography from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Astin directed trilogy director Peter Jackson and fellow cast members in a five-minute short film, The Long and Short of It (2003), about camaraderie and friendship within difficult working environments, which mirrored a significant theme of the trilogy. Astin was able to borrow a cutting-edge digital camera from Lucasfilm representatives (who had been demonstrating the camera for Jackson) for a day to make the short. The film was included as a bonus on the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).
Had to gain 35 to 40 pounds for his role of Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
In February 2003, Sean was appointed to the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.
Announced at the Texas Film Festival on 22 February 2003 that he has optioned the book "Issac's Storm" and is planning on shooting an epic film centered around the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
While filming The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Astin (as Samwise Gamgee) ran into a lake to stop Frodo (Elijah Wood). When he did this, he stepped on a piece of glass and had to be rushed to the hospital. He received many stitches to repair the injury.
Appeared at Wizard World signing autographs on August 9, 2003.
Started his own production company, Lava Entertainment, in the late 1980s.
Attended Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, California, with actor/musician Jack Black. Was cast in a school play/film when Black backed out.
Wanted to direct Fantastic Four (2005) at one point.
Calls four people "Dad": John Astin, Desi Arnaz Jr., Mike Tell and Michael Pearce (his step-father).
September 2004 - Attended the Armaggeddon Pulp Culture Expo Convention in Wellington, New Zealand, as a Lord of the Rings guest.
Is the second actor from a "Lord of the Rings" adaptation to have a relative in an Addams Family adaptation. His father, John Astin, played Gomez on The Addams Family (1964). John Huston, who voiced Gandalf in the animated version of The Return of the King (1980), is the father of Anjelica Huston, who played Morticia in the films.
The title of his autobiography, "There and Back Again," is actually the alternate title for "The Hobbit" and, in the story, is the title of Bilbo Baggins' autobiography.
Nephew of Ray Duke.
He is a Verizon Literacy Champion and the National Center for Family Literacy celebrity spokesperson.
July 22, 2005, welcomed third child, daughter Isabella Louise at 5lb 4oz. She was a month premature.
In The Goonies (1985), his character cries out "Holy Mackenzie!" His brother is Mackenzie Astin. He claimed he was allowed to keep the treasure map used in the film. However, the map was lost forever when his mother discovered it several years later, thought it was just a crinkled piece of paper, and threw it in the trash.
Attended the same elementary school as Camilla Belle, Nicky Rothschild and Paris Hilton.
He and his father, John Astin, have both appeared in a Best Picture winner. Sean appeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and John appeared in West Side Story (1961).
Because Sean's mother was bi-polar, Sean is very active in trying to educate and help the public with identifying and treating mental disorders.
Believed that Desi Arnaz Jr. was his biological father until a blood test in 1990 revealed that Michael Tell is his biological father.
Has hit bad guys over the head with a frying pan in two different movies: as Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and also as Billy Tepper in Toy Soldiers (1991).
Gave the 2008 commencement address at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, along with Kent Stock, Luther alum, whose story Sean depicted in The Final Season (2007).
Keith Coogan is the grandson of Jackie Coogan who played Uncle Fester in The Addams Family (1964). Sean Astin is the son of John Astin who played Gomez Addams in The Addams Family (1964). Keith Coogan and Sean Astin played friends in Toy Soldiers (1991).
His brother, Mackenzie Astin, appeared in NCIS: Life Before His Eyes (2012), the 200th episode of NCIS (2003) and a month later, Sean appeared on the same show in NCIS: The Tell (2012), episode 204.
Reshooting scenes for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). [June 2003]
Attending Collectormania 7 at Milton Keynes, and... negotiating to appear in a baseball movie if funding can be secured. [May 2005]
His casting in the fifth season of 24 (2001) came about by sheer luck. One day at his chiropractor's, he discovered that Joel Surnow was also a patient; they had a short meeting and Surnow offered him the role of Lynn McGill.
Narrated the American version of Meerkat Manor. The British version was narrated by Bill Nighy, who also preceded him in the role of Sam Gamgee.
His biological father, Michael Tell, is of Austrian Jewish and Polish Jewish ancestry. His mother, Patty Duke, was of seven eighths Irish and one eighth German, descent.
He and his brother, Mackenzie Astin, both guest-starred in Season 9 of NCIS (2003). Mackenzie was in the episode, NCIS: Life Before His Eyes (2012), and Sean was in NCIS: The Tell (2012).
Auditioned for the role of Chris Chambers in Stand by Me (1986).
He received 20 stitches in his foot after a piece of glass, that the Lord of the Rings crew was unaware of, pierced his foot.
Was delivered via emergency Caesarean section.
He has appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: The Goonies (1985) and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
I was told I had to gain a lot of weight because Hobbits are very portly. Peter [Peter Jackson] is forever suggesting I have more food: "A little more food for Mr. Astin."
[refuting the remarks of cast and crew that he IS Samwise Gamgee] But I'm not really Sam . . . nobody could be that good, that noble. He's just better than the rest of us. I'm a lot more Hollywood than Sam would ever be.
I'd never heard of the "Lord of the Rings", actually. So I went to the bookstore and there it was, three shelves of books about Tolkien and Middle-earth, and I was like, "Holy cow, what else am I missing out on?"
[12/18/03, about the scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) in which Sam helps Frodo up Mount Doom] It was an incredible acting experience, being on the side of a volcano with that language. That language is so beautiful: "It'll be springtime soon, and they'll be sowing barley on the fields." When Peter [Peter Jackson] came up to tell me to lower my arm, something like that, tears were streaming down his face, and to see him that emotional just forced me into it . . . It [finally seeing the last three reels of the film] was a huge cry. It was all of the tension and stress and pressure of having a wife and children, having a career, the investment of these movies. I was sobbing and heaving, I could barely breathe, and the movie facilitated that. It was just a huge release.
[12/14/03, on his character Sam Gamgee] 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".
[2/12/04] I don't care if I'm 5'7" and pretty heavy, weight-wise, in the film [the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy]. I still see myself as Errol Flynn. Even when I was a little boy, playing war games in the back yard, I pictured myself as the hero.
[2/12/04] I remember, before we started principal photography on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Peter Jackson screened Braveheart (1995) and The Thin Red Line (1998) for the cast. He said, "This is the tone I want to strike with the Ring movies. I want to see the grime on their faces, the dirt on the ground, and I want that level of gritty emotionalism and intensity." I think his idea was that you can enjoy the fantasy more if you really believe it.
[2/12/04, on souvenirs from Middle-earth] I got Sam's backpack, which began to feel like a second skin, albeit a very uncomfortable skin. I also got to keep Sam's sword, as well as some Hobbit feet and ears. I can take them out and make the whole family smile!
The sidekick business has been good to me.
[on Rudy (1993)] I loved this movie because it shows that if you work hard, you can achieve anything.
I have a very eclectic kind of upbringing in regards to religiosity or religion. You know, my mom was sort of a Catholic and then a lapsed Catholic and then an ex-communicated Catholic and then a brought-back-into-the-fold Catholic and then a kind of Shirley Maclaine New Age kind of something-or-other (laughter). And then my dad was very secular, raised by a school-teacher as a mom and a scientist as a father and then I was in Catholic school for three years as a kid; there was a confirmation process and I wanted to be confirmed, I had never been baptized. And so I asked if I could be baptized and he said no, not until I was 18. And then he discovered Buddhism a few years later and he wanted me to be a Buddhist, and so I kinda practiced Buddhism for a little while, and my older brother was sort of a swinging singles guy who discovered a guy named Swami Vivekananda and like shaved his head and went to India when I was like 10 or 11. And he was someone who I always admired, so I kind of got to see that strain. My biological father is Jewish and I never really knew him until I was 25 but then I did so he's kind of an interesting and wonderful man who I've gotten to know over the last few years, so there's kind of that strand.
People will root for anyone who shows them their heart.