Sean Astin has demonstrated his innate ability to share his heart with the world through such iconic roles as Mikey Walsh in “The Goonies,” the title character of “Rudy,” Samwise Gamgee in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and Bob Newby in “Stranger Things 2,” roles that epitomize hope, determination and loyalty.
With both his parents being well-known, respected actors, it’s no surprise that Sean’s career, which spans over three decades with 140 acting credits, began at a young age. He debuted in the 1981 television movie “Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom,” in which he played a child with an abusive mother, portrayed by his real-life mother Patty Duke. For his first feature film, he portrayed Mikey in Steven Spielberg’s classic “The Goonies” (1985), still enthusiastically beloved by audiences today. The young performer appeared in several more films both for TV and the big screen, garnering Young Artist Awards for performances in “The Goonies,” “Staying Together” (1989) and as the lead character Billy Tepper in “Toy Soldiers” (1991). He successfully navigated the transition from child actor to young adult in such critically acclaimed films as “Memphis Belle” (1990) and “The Low Life” (1995).
Sean scored a career defining, triumphant success in the inspirational and universally applauded college football biopic “Rudy” (1993), about the life-changing struggles and rewards of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. To this day, Sean still identifies with the role of the unlikely athlete determined to succeed at achieving seemingly impossible goals.
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.
In television, Sean has appeared in numerous movies and series, including multi-episodic runs in J. Michael Straczynski’s “Jeremiah” (2003-2004) in which he played the enigmatic Mister Smith, the popular thriller “24” (2006), and Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Strain” (2014-2015) on FX. He joined the award winning cast for the second season of the engrossing and critically acclaimed Netflix series “Stranger Things” (2017), as the beloved character Bob Newby, Radio Shack manager; and is currently filming the multi-camera sitcom “No Good Nick,” also for Netflix.
Sean’s recent films include “Range 15” (2016), a crowd-sourced dark comedy made by and for vets, and the romantic comedy “Unleashed” (2017) with Kate Micucci. He narrated and executive produced the documentary “Remember the Sultana” (2018), about the worst maritime disaster in US history. The political satire “Swing State” (2016) was released in time for the 2016 election, with “The Lears,” a sophisticated comedy that updates Shakespeare’s King Lear, coming soon. Sean costars with Julianne Moore in the upcoming English-language adaptation of the Chilean film “Gloria Bell,” from Oscar winning director Sebastián Lelio.
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). 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) series on Netflix, based on the Dav Pilkey’s children’s books. He can be heard in a plethora of other animated shows, video games, audio dramas and narrations.
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) 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.