Sean Astin (born on February 25, 1971) is an American film actor, director, and Academy Award-nominated producer best known for his film roles as Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In television, he guest starred as Lynn McGill on the fifth season of 24.
Astin was born Sean Patrick Duke in Santa Monica, California, the son of actress Patty Duke. He discovered in 1994 that his biological father is Michael Tell, a music promoter and writer who edits and publishes the Jewish newspaper The Las Vegas Israelite. Tell's marriage to Patty Duke was annulled shortly before her marriage to John Astin. At the time of his birth, it was widely assumed that his biological father was Desi Arnaz, Jr., although this was later proven false. Astin is the older half-brother of Mackenzie Astin, also an actor (in The Facts of Life).
Astin graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in History and English (American literature and culture). He is an alumnus of and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Patrons Association and the Arts Council for Los Angeles Valley College. He attended St. Paul the Apostle Elementary School, Bellagio Road Elementary, and the Crossroads High School for the Arts and participated in master classes at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles.
Astin with his wife, Christine and their eldest daughter, Alexandra, in Wellington, New Zealand, for the premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, December 2003
At age thirteen, he debuted on the silver screen as Mikey in The Goonies (1985). He had a small role in 1989’s The War of the Roses and in 1990 he appeared in the World War II film Memphis Belle. One of Astin's most memorable roles was with Louis Gossett, Jr. in Toy Soldiers (1991). In 1993 he received a memorable part as the title character in Rudy and in 1998 starred in the romantic comedy Boy Meets Girl. Astin recently played Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy; he was Frodo's loyal companion on his quest to destroy the ring, a role for which he was much acclaimed, and is best known. He also played the brother of Lucy (Drew Barrymore) in the Adam Sandler film 50 First Dates. Astin provided the voice for Balto’s son, Kodi, in the second direct-to-video sequel of Balto.
In 1994, he directed and co-produced the Academy Award-nominated short film, Kangaroo Court, with his wife, Christine. In 1995, he starred in the Showtime sci-fi film, Harrison Bergeron, an adaptation of the short story by Kurt Vonnegut. In this futuristic film, the world focuses on the belief that “All men are not created equal. It is the purpose of the Government to make them so.” The titular character, Harrison, is smarter than his peers and is unaffected by the standard technology used to handicap all Americans so that everyone is of equal ability.
While working on The Two Towers, he persuaded a number of fellow cast and crew members, including director Peter Jackson, to act in or work as crew on his short film, The Long and Short of It (2003), which takes place on a street in Wellington, New Zealand. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, 2003, and appears on the “standard edition” DVD of The Two Towers as an extra feature together with a “making of” video.
In 2003, he directed the Angel episode Soulless.
Astin guest starred as Lynn McGill in the fifth season of the FOX drama 24. He also appeared in the first season of the NBC Show Las Vegas as a gambler who wins one million dollars and his wife and best friend want to take it away from him. He also had a role in Adam Sandler’s 2006 film Click. Astin has also appeared as a wealthy manor-owner thought to have killed his father in the dramedy Monk on the USA Network owned by television conglomerate NBC. Astin is the narrator of the US version of Meerkat Manor, shown on the Discovery Channel-owned cable TV channel Animal Planet. He most recently appeared as a sales clerk in an episode of the TV series, My Name Is Earl, in which he, along with co-stars Charles S. Dutton and Chelcie Ross, parodied their hit movie, Rudy. Scenes included a motivational speech by Dutton after Earl fails his chance at becoming a sales rep, and all the dock workers turning in their credit cards to Ross. Both of these are representations of famous Rudy scenes.
He substituted for Tate Donovan in voicing Hercules in the first Kingdom Hearts game for Playstation 2.
On Easter 2008, he appeared on British television channel Sky One in a TV adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel The Colour of Magic along with British actors Sir David Jason, Tim Curry, Jeremy Irons and Christopher Lee.
In addition to his film and television work, he currently voices the character of Special Agent Oso on the Disney Channel.
Astin married Christine Harrell on July 11, 1992. They have three daughters: Alexandra (born November 27, 1996), Elizabeth (born August 6, 2002), and Isabella (born July 22, 2005), all with the same middle name of Louise. His wife held the Miss Indiana Teen USA title in 1984.
His book, There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale (2004, ISBN 0-312-33146-0), co-written by Joe Layden, is an account of his experiences before, during and after filming the Lord of the Rings movies. The title is derived from the subtitle of The Hobbit by Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien. He jumped at the chance to work in New Zealand again in 2004, as the mythical “Linus,” tutor of Hercules, in Robert Halmi, Sr.'s Hallmark-sponsored remake.
Astin has a tattoo of the Elvish word for "nine", a reference to his involvement in the Lord of the Rings and the fact that his character was one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. The other actors of "The Fellowship" (Elijah Wood, Sean Bean, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, and Orlando Bloom) got the same tattoo with the exception of John Rhys-Davies whose stunt double got the tattoo instead.
During the 2004 US Presidential Election, Astin backed Senator John Kerry. Astin participated in Kerry's campaign rally in Portland, Oregon as the opening speaker.
Astin lent his support to Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Presidential Elections, and joined Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton for the first stop of her Indiana tour on March 24, 2008, at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In April, he and Dylan Frick toured parts of North Carolina to campaign also. Astin joined Chelsea Clinton at Ball State University on March 25, 2008.
Astin is a vegetarian.