Sean Astin

Sean Patrick Astin ( Duke; born February 25, 1971) is an American actor, voice actor, director, and producer. His acting roles include Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003), Mikey Walsh in The Goonies (1985), Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger in Rudy (1993), Doug Whitmore in 50 First Dates (2004), and Bob Newby in the second and third seasons of Stranger Things (2017–2019).[1]

Sean Astin
Astin in 2014
Sean Patrick Duke

(1971-02-25) February 25, 1971
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationLos Angeles Valley College
University of California, Los Angeles (BA)
OccupationActor, voice actor, director, producer
Years active1980–present
Christine Harrell (m. 1992)
RelativesMackenzie Astin (half-brother)

Early life

Astin was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of actress Patty Duke (1946–2016) and Michael Tell.[2][3][4] However, at the time, it was erroneously reported that entertainer Desi Arnaz Jr. was his biological father. During that time, Duke also had a sexual 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, so Tell offered to marry her as a way out of the scandal. The marriage only lasted 13 days in 1970, and ended long before Astin was born.[5][6][7]

On August 5, 1972, Duke married actor John Astin, after having been in a relationship with him for two years. When the wedding guests were invited to speak, 18-month-old Sean looked at John and cried, "Daddy!", to which the Episcopal priest performing the ceremony remarked, "Well, that about does it!"[8] Astin subsequently adopted Sean. 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 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, 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," says Sean. "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] He 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 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

Astin's first acting role was in a 1981 television movie 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). He made his film debut at age 13 as Mikey in The Goonies (1985).

After The Goonies, Astin appeared in several more films, including the Disney made-for-TV movie, 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

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 (11) 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] 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]

Throughout the filming process, Astin became close friends with several cast members, and became particularly good friends with costar Elijah Wood. Astin's daughter, Alexandra, is in the closing scene of The Return of the King. She plays his onscreen daughter, Elanor Gamgee, who runs out to him as he returns from the Grey Havens.

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.

Post-Lord of the Rings

Since 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 movie Smile.

In television, Astin guest-starred as Lynn McGill throughout 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. He 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.

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 the animated Disney Channel series Special Agent Oso.[19] His 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 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, he joined the Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective acting company.[20] He and his wife, Christine, are making a movie based on Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning novel Number the Stars.[21][22]

In March 2012, Astin played a cosmetic surgeon named Takin Mastuhmik in a fake movie trailer entitled Boobathon which appeared on Funny or Die.[23] 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.[24] In June of that year, he began playing the role of Jim Kent on the FX drama The Strain.[25]

In October 2015, Astin played Hank Erwin in Woodlawn, a story about how a high school football team overcame its problems through following Jesus.[26]

In 2017, Astin played the role of Bob Newby in the season two of the Netflix series Stranger Things; flashback scenes in the series' third season included him as well. In 2019, he played the role of Dr. Greg Pemberton on several episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Later that year, he had a guest appearance on the fifth season of “Supergirl”.

Personal life

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 having the middle name Louise.[27] His wife held the Miss Indiana Teen USA title in 1984.[28] Alexandra had a small cameo role in 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.[29]

In an August 2013 interview, Astin said he was Lutheran, having been "baptized in my wife's Lutheran church".[14]

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.[30][31]

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.[32]

Political support

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.[33]

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.[34]

Astin served as the campaign manager for Democrat Dan Adler, a businessman friend in the entertainment industry, for California's 36th congressional district special election, 2011.[35]

In the 2016 presidential election, Astin campaigned for Hillary Clinton in midwestern states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin.[36]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Goonies Mikey Walsh
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 Safe Passage Izzy Singer
1995 The Low Life Andrew
Harrison Bergeron Harrison Bergeron
1996 Courage Under Fire Patella
1997 Wag the Dog Singer Uncredited
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
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
Thanks to Gravity Coach Amal Direct-to-DVD
2006 What Love Is George Direct-to-VOD
Asterix and the Vikings Justforkix English dub
Click Bill
2007 The Final Season Kent Stock
2008 Forever Strong Marcus
Spirit of the Forest Furi Voice
2009 Stay Cool Big Girl Direct-to-VOD
2011 Demoted Mike Direct-to-VOD
2012 Boobathon Takin Mastuhmik
Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea Stuart Direct-to-DVD
2013 The Freemason Leon Weed Direct-to-DVD
2014 Justice League: War Shazam Voice
Boys of Abu Ghraib Staff Sergeant Tanner Direct-to-VOD
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero Porter[37][38] Direct-to-DVD
Moms' Night Out Sean[39][40]
Video Games: The Movie Narrator Documentary
Ribbit Ribbit Voice
The Hero of Color City Horatio Voice
The Surface Mitch Direct-to-VOD
2015 Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Shazam Voice
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
TBA Adverse Frankie


Year Title Role Notes
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
2003 Angel N/A Director (episode: "Soulless")
2003–2004 Jeremiah Mister Smith Main role (Season 2)
2004 Higglytown Heroes Pix the Elf Guest voice role (1 episode)[41]
2005 Hercules Linus Main role
2005 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"
2007 Monk Paul Buchanan Episode: "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service"
2007 My Name Is Earl Salesman Episode: "Get a Real Job"
2008 Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic Twoflower Movie
2008 Law & Order Pastor Hensley Episode: "Angelgrove"
2009–2012 Special Agent Oso Agent Oso Voice role (22 episodes)
2011 Love's Christmas Journey Mayor Wayne Movie
2012 NCIS Tyler Elliot Episode: "The Tell"
2012 Adopting Terror Tim Movie
2012 Dorothy and the Witches of Oz Frack Miniseries
2012 Hollywood Treasure Himself Episode: "Riddler Rudy and the Ruby Slippers"
2012 Franklin and Bash Viper Episode: "Viper"
2012 Alphas Mitchell 2 episodes
2012–2017 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael Voice role
2013 Santa Switch Eddie[42] Movie
2014 The Strain Jim Kent Main role
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Blaze Voice role; 4 episodes[43][44]
2016 The Loud House Loni Voice role; Episode: "One of the Boys"[45]
2016 The Librarians Kirby Goulding Episode: "And the Tears of a Clown"
2016–2018 Justice League Action Billy Batson / Shazam Voice role
Bunnicula Chester Voice role
2017–2019 Stranger Things Bob Newby 10 episodes
2018–present The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants Narrator
2019 The Big Bang Theory Dr. Pemberton Episodes: "The Confirmation Polarization," "The Laureate Accumulation," & "The Plagiarism Schism"
2019 No Good Nick Ed Main role
2019 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Sergeant Knox Episode: "Ticking Clocks"
2019 Supergirl Pete Andrews Episode: "Blurred Lines"

Video games

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

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result
1985 Young Artist Awards Best Starring Performance by a Young Actor – Motion Picture The Goonies Won
1989 Best Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture Staying Together Won
1991 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) Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2003 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actor The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Won
National Board of Review Best Cast Won
Online Film & Television Association Best Ensemble Won
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Won
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Male or Female Actor Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated
2014 Utah Film Awards Best Actor[46] The Freemason Won


  1. Otterson, Joe (June 7, 2018). "Sean Astin Talks 'Stranger Things': 'Bob Newby Was Tailor-Made for Me'". Retrieved December 30, 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
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  3. "Personal Biography". Retrieved March 15, 2015.
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  6. "Sean Astin Q&A at GenCon 2003". August 1, 2003. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  7. Barrett, Victoria (December 19, 2003). "I don't want to play the fat guy or the friend all my life". Guardian Unlimited. London, UK. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
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  10. Dam, Julie K.L; Jordan, Julie (January 14, 2002). "Hobbit forming". People Magazine. Time Inc. Retrieved January 11, 2016. DNA tests ... proved Tell to be his father.
  11. "Sean Astin Q&A at GenCon 2003". Hobbit Movie News and Rumors. August 1, 2003. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
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  13. "Heritage of Beatrice Goldstein (Michael Tell's mother)". United States Census. April 14–15, 1930. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  14. Kennedy, John W. (August 2013). "Sean Astin talks about his eclectic faith journey, his love of animals and his role in an upcoming Christian comedy from the Erwin Brothers". Beliefnet. Archived from the original on August 10, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2014. JWK: I understand that you're a Presbyterian now. SA: Lutheran, technically now, I think ...
  15. "Sean Astin '97". May 22, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  16. "IMDb Trivia Page for Please Don't Hit Me, Mom". Retrieved December 26, 2016.
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  18. "IMDb Awards Listing for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  19. Banks, Dave (June 11, 2009). "Q&A With Sean Astin – Star of Disney's New Kids' Show Special Agent Oso". Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved June 11, 2009.
  20. "Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective Announces Inaugural Season 2010/02/26". Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  21. Marilyn Beck; Stacy Jenel Smith (July 16, 2011). "Diahann Carroll Diamond Birthday Arrives, PBS Special Soon to Air". Beck/Smith Hollywood. Wordpress. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  22. Lava Entertainment. "Number The Stars". Number The Stars. Lava Entertainment. Retrieved September 5, 2012.
  23. Astin, Sean (March 6, 2012). "Boobathon Trailer with Sean Astin". Funny or Die. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  24. "Boys of Abu Ghraib: Full Cast & Crew". Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  25. "The Strain: Cast & Crew". FX Networks. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  26. Funaro, Vincent (August 30, 2015). "'Woodlawn' Movie Depicts True Life Story of 40-Person Football Team Coming to Christ During Height of '70s Desegregation". The Christian Post. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  27. "Personal Biography",; retrieved December 26, 2016.
  28. "Past Titleholders: Miss Indiana Teen USA". Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  29. Xavier (July 2015). "The Matching Tattoos of 'the Lord of the Rings' Cast". Retrieved August 11, 2017.
  30. "2015 Dopey Challenge Full Results" (PDF). April 21, 2015. p. 5. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  31. Rodriguez, Ashley (January 4, 2017). "How to Recover from the Dopey Challenge". Runner's World. Disney's 48.6-mile Dopey Challenge [... i]s no easy feat. While plenty of runners have finished 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and marathons, few have done them back-to-back over the course of four days.
  32. "IRONMAN World Championship Results". Ironman World Championship. World Triathlon Corporation. October 10, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  33. Calisuri and Corvar and Arathorn (May 17, 2004). "Sean Astin at Portland, OR Rally for John Kerry". Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  34. "Chelsea Clinton, 'Rudy' start to stump at IU". Indiana Daily Student. March 24, 2008. Archived from the original on June 15, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2008.
  35. Tyler, Michael. "5 things to know about Sean Astin ahead of Springfield stop". daytondailynews. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  36. Weis, Alyssa. "Hobbit Star Stumps for Clinton". WOI-DT (Local ABC 5). Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  37. Doc Rotten (March 8, 2014). "Film Review: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)". Retrieved July 29, 2014. Sean Astin steps into the role of Mr. Porter
  38. Collis, Clark (July 23, 2014). "Sean Astin bugs out in 'Cabin Fever: Patient Zero' clip". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  39. "Erwin Brothers Wrap Filming On Family Comedy 'MOMS' NIGHT OUT'" (Press release). Sony Pictures. PR Newswire. June 24, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2014. ... a wife and her husband, played by Grey's Anatomy's Sarah Drew as Allyson and Sean Astin as Sean
  40. Law, Jeannie (January 21, 2014). "'Moms' Night Out' Movie Featuring Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, and Sarah Drew Portrays 'Christians in a Positive Light'". BREATHEcast. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  41. "Higglytown Heroes Cast". TV Guide. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  42. "Breaking News". The Futon Critic. October 8, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  43. "Penn Zero: Become A Part-Time Hero with Sam Levine, Jared Bush, and Balls". March 27, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  44. "Disney Channel PR twitter feed". Twitter. September 30, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  45. "One of the Boys". CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  46. "2014 Winners". Utah Film Awards. Retrieved March 14, 2018.

Further reading

  • Dye, David. Child and Youth Actors: Filmography of Their Entire Careers, 1914–1985. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1988, p. 7.
  • Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995. Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, pp. 385–386.
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