Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Seans

What's the difference between Sean Young and Sean Penn

OK, it's just a reason to write a blog post, I'll admit.  Obviously they are not related, despite having the same first name.  But wait, there's more.  One is a man and one is a woman.  All kidding aside, they are both big time Bit Actors.

Age before beauty, or rather, age and beauty before Sean PennSean Young was born in 1959 in Kentucky.  Her mother was a screenwriter, but not an actress. 

She blasted out of the acting starting gate in Stripes (1981, her second movie) as Louise the MP.  Her next movie, Blade Runner (1982), may be her big one.  She played a replicant in that one, but she still got Harrison Ford, who didn't care if she was artificial.  She was still a dish.

Skipping around she appears in Dune (1984), No Way Out (1987) was also a very good role for her, Wall Street (1987), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), and she has a total of 86 titles on IMDb.  After the mid 1990s, she is in a bunch of movies I haven't seen and TV shows I don't watch.  Hence the term Bit Actor (at least IMO).

Young has won two awards, but they are both Razzies for worst actress and worst supporting actress, in the same movie!.

Sean Penn on the other hand, was born in 1960 in California.  His mother is an actress and his father a television director, so he continues the family business.  Was married to Madonna and later to Robin Wright.  Penn has only 48 titles on IMDb.

Penn's first movie was Taps (1981) which was filmed at Valley Forge Military Academy, near my home.  Then he was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), and then a series of movies that were not big hits.  Bad Boys (1983), Crackers (1984), Racing with the Moon (1984), etc., but all had pretty good stars to work with.  That builds experience.

There are a number of good movies in his list.  We're No Angels (1989), Carlito's Way (1993), The Game (1997, and one of my favorites), The Thin Red Line (1998), the title role in I Am Sam (2001), Mystic River (2003), All the King's Men (2006), and perhaps his biggest role as the title character Harvey Milk in Milk (2008). 

Penn has won two Oscars (Mystic River and Milk), and a bunch of other awards, with only one Razzie nomination.

So I guess there isn't much difference between the two Seans.  Both have good careers, both have had personal problems, and both are still working.  Let's keep watching.


  1. Big differences between the two, I think. Sean Penn is quite an accomplished actor; Sean Young was once very good-looking, but a great actress? I think not.

    I first noticed Penn in "Taps" as someone to keep an eye on (though Tom Cruise in the same film didn't inspire me much). Sean Penn has a controversial image but, at least for me, that doesn't detract, really, from his enormous talent. He also has political opinions. These things, it seems, have opened him up to ridicule.

    Penn's turns in "Fast Times...," "Bad Boys" and "Racing with the Moon" were noteworthy career builders...along with "The Falcon and the Snowman," again with Timothy Hutton (star of "Taps"). And his performance, a supporting role, in "Carlito's Way" (he nailed Alan Dershowitz, Esq.) was brilliant.

    Sean Penn has won two Academy Awards, Sean Young, two Razzies. No comparison.

  2. You are spot on, Eve. Penn's filmography speaks volumes about his talent, both as an actor and as a businessman willing to take the correct roles.

    He's not as good looking as Young, though. Even now. Maybe it's a guy thing.


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