Sean Astin

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Sean Astin
Astin at the 2016 Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest
Sean Patrick Duke

(1971-02-25) February 25, 1971 (age 53)
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BA)
Years active1980–present
Christine Harrell
(m. 1992)
RelativesMackenzie Astin (brother)

Sean Astin (born Sean Patrick Duke; February 25, 1971) is an American actor. His acting roles include Mikey Walsh in The Goonies (1985), Billy Tepper in Toy Soldiers (1991), Daniel Ruettiger in Rudy (1993), Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003), Doug Whitmore in 50 First Dates (2004), Bill in Click (2006), Lynn McGill in the fifth season of 24 (2006), Oso in Special Agent Oso (2009–2012), Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012–2017), Bob Newby in the second season of Netflix's Stranger Things (2017),[1] and Ed in No Good Nick (2019).

Astin is the son of actress Patty Duke and adopted by actor John Astin. He has received various recognitions including a Screen Actors Guild Award and two Young Artist Awards. Astin was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1994 for the short film Kangaroo Court.

Early life[edit]

Astin was born in Santa Monica, California, on February 25, 1971, the son of actress Patty Duke (1946–2016) and Michael Tell (born 1950).[2][3][4] At the time, it was incorrectly reported that entertainer Desi Arnaz Jr. was his biological father. During that time, Duke also had a personal relationship with Michael Tell, a writer, music promoter, and publisher of the newspaper The Las Vegas Israelite. When Duke became pregnant, she was unsure whether Arnaz or Tell was the father, and Tell offered to marry her as a way out of the scandal. The marriage lasted only 13 days in 1970, and ended before Astin was born.[5][6][7]

On August 5, 1972, Duke married actor John Astin, 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] John subsequently adopted Astin. 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 Astin was 14, Duke told him that Arnaz was his biological father, and the two developed a relationship. However, 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 which showed Tell was his biological father.[10] Astin has maintained close relationships with all three, and 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 stepfather, Mike Pearce, saying, "I can call any of them on the phone any time I want to. John, Desi, Mike, or Papa Mike ... my four dads."[5]

Astin is of German and Irish ancestry through his mother, and Austrian Jewish and Polish Jewish through his biological father.[11][12][13] Astin attended Catholic school and later became a Protestant.[14]

Astin attended the Crossroads High School for the Arts and undertook master classes at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles. He graduated cum laude 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.[15]


Early career[edit]

Astin in 1997

Astin's first acting role was in a 1981 television film titled Please Don't Hit Me, Mom,[16] in which he played an 8-year-old child with an abusive mother (portrayed by his real-life mother Patty Duke). Astin made his film debut at the age of 13 as Mikey in The Goonies (1985).

After The Goonies, Astin appeared in several more films, including the Disney television film 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[edit]

In the early 2000s, Astin played Samwise Gamgee in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003). Many awards were bestowed upon the trilogy, particularly its final installment, which earned eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Astin received seven award nominations for his own performance, and won five, including the Saturn Award, the Sierra Award, the Seattle Film Critics Award, and the Utah Film Critics Award (all for Best Supporting Actor), and the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male or Female in an Effects Film.[17][better source needed] The Return of the King cast as an ensemble received awards from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, the Screen Actors Guild, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and received a Gold Derby Award.[18][better source needed] Throughout the filming process, Astin became close friends with several cast members, particularly Elijah Wood. Astin's daughter, Alexandra, is in the closing scene of The Return of the King, playing his onscreen daughter, Elanor.

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, which takes place on a street in Wellington, New Zealand, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and can be found on the DVD for 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 during production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The title is derived from the title 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.

After The Lord of the Rings[edit]

Astin at UIUC, 2009

Since The 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 film Smile.[19][better source needed]

In television, Astin guest-starred as Lynn McGill in ten episodes of 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. Astin 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.[20][better source needed]

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 Special Agent Oso which aired on Playhouse Disney from 2009 to 2011 and Disney Junior from 2011 to early 2014.[21] Astin's 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 also voiced Raphael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series on Nickelodeon, which premiered on September 29, 2012, running for five seasons and 124 episodes, and ending on November 12, 2017.

In 2010, Astin joined the Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective acting company.[22] Also as of 2010, Astin and his wife, Christine, were making a film based on Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning novel Number the Stars.[23][24] They bought the film rights in 2008 and wrote a screenplay adaptation, with plans to direct and produce it themselves.[25]

In March 2012, Astin played a cosmetic surgeon named Takin Mastuhmik in a fake trailer entitled Boobathon which appeared on Funny or Die.[26] 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.[27][better source needed] In June of that year, he began playing the role of Jim Kent on the FX drama The Strain.[28]

In October 2015, Astin played Hank Erwin in Woodlawn, a story about how a high school football team overcame racism and hate, and found unity and success through following Jesus.[29]

In 2017, Astin played the role of Bob Newby in season two of the Netflix series Stranger Things. In 2019, Astin reprised the role of Newby in flashback scenes during the series' third season, played the role of Dr. Greg Pemberton on several episodes of The Big Bang Theory, and had a guest appearance on the fifth season of Supergirl. In 2019, he was in the Netflix dramedy No Good Nick in which he played Ed. That same year, he appeared in the sixth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

In May 2020, Astin joined Josh Gad's YouTube series Reunited Apart, which reunites the casts of popular films through video-conferencing and promotes donations to non-profit charities. Others in the episode were fellow The Lord of the Rings castmates Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, Miranda Otto, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, and Elijah Wood, plus writer Philippa Boyens and director Peter Jackson.[30][31]

Astin is set to narrate the upcoming comedy film Go West, the first theatrical film from the original cast of the sketch comedy show Studio C, produced by their own company, JK Studios.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Astin married Christine Harrell on July 11, 1992. They have three daughters: Alexandra (born in November 1996), Elizabeth (born in August 2002), and Isabella (born in July 2005), all having the middle name Louise.[33] His wife held the Miss Indiana Teen USA title in 1984.[34] Alexandra had a small cameo role in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as Elanor Gamgee, Astin's character's daughter, and appears in Bad Kids of Crestview Academy as Ethel Balducci.

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 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.[35]

In an August 2013 interview, Astin said that he is a Lutheran Christian, having been "baptized in my wife's Lutheran church".[14] "I don't know if I'm a very good [Christian] but I'm praying the forgiveness thing is legit," Astin said in an interview.[36]

In January 2015, Astin completed the Dopey Challenge at the Walt Disney World Resort which involves running a 5k, 10k, half-marathon and full marathon on four consecutive days.[37][38]

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.[39]

Political support[edit]

From 1995 to 2005, Astin served as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) and afterwards served on the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation for two years during the George W. Bush administration.[40][41]

Astin is a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party.[citation needed] 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.[42] In the 2008 presidential election, Astin lent his support to then-Senator Hillary Clinton for the first of her two Presidential campaigns and made multiple campaign appearances on her behalf, including joining Clinton's daughter Chelsea at some stops.[43] Astin served as the campaign manager for Democrat Dan Adler, a businessman friend in the entertainment industry, in California's 36th congressional district special election of 2011.[41] In the 2016 presidential election, Astin campaigned for Hillary Clinton in midwestern states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin.[44] In a 2020 Twitter post, Astin voiced his support for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.[45]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1985 The Goonies Mikey Walsh
1986 The B.R.A.T. Patrol Leonard Kinsey [46]
1987 Like Father Like Son Clarence / Trigger
White Water Summer Alan
1989 The War of the Roses Josh Rose (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 Teresa's Tattoo Step Brother Uncredited [47]
Safe Passage Izzy Singer
1995 The Low Life Andrew
1996 Courage Under Fire Patella
1998 Boy Meets Girl Mike
Bulworth Gary
1999 Deterrence Ralph
Kimberly Bob
2000 Dish Dogs Morgan
The Last Producer Bo Pomerantz
Icebreaker Matt Foster
The Sky Is Falling Mr. Schwartz
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Samwise Gamgee
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 Balto III: Wings of Change Kodi Voice[48]
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
Love & Debate Coach Amal Direct-to-DVD
2006 What Love Is George Direct-to-VOD
Asterix and the Vikings Justforkix Voice, English dub[48]
Click Bill
2007 The Final Season Kent Stock
My Wife Is Retarded Jeff Short film
2008 Forever Strong Marcus
Spirit of the Forest Furi Voice[48]
2009 Stay Cool Big Girl Direct-to-VOD
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Meerkat Manor Narrator Voice[48]
2011 Demoted Mike Direct-to-VOD
2012 Boobathon Takin Mastuhmik Trailer [26]
Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea Stuart Direct-to-DVD
2013 The Freemason Leon Weed Direct-to-DVD
2014 Justice League: War Shazam Voice[48]
Boys of Abu Ghraib Staff Sergeant Tanner Direct-to-VOD
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero Porter Direct-to-DVD [49][50]
Moms' Night Out Sean [51][52]
Video Games: The Movie Narrator Documentary
Ribbit Ribbit Voice[48]
The Hero of Color City Horatio Voice[48]
The Surface Mitch Direct-to-VOD
Stan Lee's Mighty 7 Kid Kinergy Voice[48]
2015 Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Shazam Voice[48]
Do You Believe? Dr. Farell
Woodlawn Hank
Checkmate Dyson
2016 The Do-Over Ted-O
Range 15 Grigsby
Unleashed Carl
2017 Bad Kids of Crestview Academy Headmaster Nash
Dead Ant Art
Espionage Tonight Sam Jacobson
The Lears Tom Cornwall
2018 Gloria Bell Jeremy
2020 Adverse Frankie
Lego DC: Shazam!: Magic and Monsters Shazam Voice[48]
2021 Hero Mode Jimmy
Charming the Hearts of Men George
2023 The AD-X2 Controversy Himself Documentary short
iMordecai Marvin
Go West Narrator [32]
Hard Miles Speedy
The Shift Gabriel
Holiday Twist Whitmer
2024 Cash Out TBA [53][54]


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1981 Please Don't Hit Me, Mom Brian Reynolds
1982 The Rules of Marriage Charlie Hagen
1985 The O'Briens The Son
1986 The B.R.A.T. Patrol Leonard Kinsey
1995 Harrison Bergeron Harrison Bergeron Television film
2003 Angel N/A Director (episode: "Soulless")
2003–2004 Jeremiah Mister Smith Main role (season 2)
2004 Higglytown Heroes Pix the Elf Voice (1 episode) [55]
2004 Party Wagon Randall McDuff, Josiah Voice, television film[48]
2005 Hercules Linus Main role
Into The West Martin Jarrett Miniseries
2005–2007 Meerkat Manor Narrator Seasons 13
2006 24 Lynn McGill Main role (Season 5)
2007 Masters of Science Fiction Charlie Kramer Episode: "Watchbird"
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 Television film
Law & Order Pastor Hensley Episode: "Angelgrove"
2009–2012 Special Agent Oso Agent Oso Main role (60 episodes)[48]
2011 Love's Christmas Journey Mayor Wayne Television film
2012 NCIS Tyler Elliot Episode: "The Tell"
Adopting Terror Tim Television film
Dorothy and the Witches of Oz Frack Miniseries
Hollywood Treasure Himself Episode: "Riddler Rudy and the Ruby Slippers"
Franklin & Bash Viper Episode: "Viper"
Alphas Mitchell 2 episodes
2012–2017 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael Voice[48]
2013 Santa Switch Eddie Television film [56]
2014 The Strain Jim Kent Main role
2015, 2017 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Blaze Voice, 4 episodes[48][57][58]
2015 Sofia the First Benngee Voice, 2 episodes[48]
2016 The Loud House Loni Voice, episode: "One of the Boys" [59]
The Librarians Kirby Goulding Episode: "And the Tears of a Clown"
2016–2018 Justice League Action Shazam Voice, 5 episodes[48]
Bunnicula Chester Voice[48]
2017–2019 Stranger Things Bob Newby 10 episodes
2018–2020 The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants Narrator
2019 The Big Bang Theory Dr. Pemberton 3 episodes
No Good Nick Ed Main role
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Sergeant Knox Episode: "Ticking Clocks"
2019–2020 Supergirl Pete Andrews 2 episodes
2020 New Looney Tunes Himself 3 episodes
2021 Jungledyret Hugo Hugo
Playing with Power: The Nintendo Story Narrator
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? Himself Voice, episode: "Returning of the Key Ring!"[48]
2023 Perry Mason Sunny Gryce Season 2 (8 episodes) [60]
2023–present The Conners Tyler 3 episodes [61]
2023 Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight Master Sloth Voice, 2 episodes

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role
2020 Wayward Guide for the Untrained Eye Lesly Stone
2023 Third Eye[62] Frank

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Kingdom Hearts Hercules English version
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Samwise Gamgee
2004 Men of Valor Pat 'Mouth' Hodges
2006 The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king Samwise Gamgee
2010 The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest
2012 Lego The Lord of the Rings Archive recordings
2013 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael
2015 Lego Dimensions Samwise Gamgee
2016 Minecraft: Story Mode Reginald [48]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
1985 Young Artist Awards Best Starring Performance by a Young Actor – Motion Picture The Goonies Won
1989 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture Staying Together Won
1991 Young Artist Awards Outstanding Young Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Toy Soldiers Nominated
1994 Academy Awards Best Live Action Short Film Kangaroo Court Nominated
2001 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 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) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Nominated
2003 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Nominated
National Board of Review Best Cast The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Male or Female Actor The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Ensemble The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Nominated
2014 Utah Film Awards Best Actor The Freemason Won [63]
2017 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated


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