Few actors can boast, as Sean Astin, of having participated in two of the most iconic and popular adventure films of all time. The poster that Drew Struzan designed for ‘The Goonies’ (Richard Donner, 1985) draws him along with the rest of his companions in what is probably the film that most and best evokes that nostalgia for the cinema of the 80s; meanwhile, a tattoo with the number 9 written in elvish certifies that he was one of the members of the expedition that accompanied Frodo to Mount Doom to get rid of the cursed ring in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. It may be surprising that with this resume Astin has never achieved the status that some of his companions in the film adaptation of the novel by Tolkien has today in the film industry, in the case of Elijah Wood or Viggo Mortensen, although we cannot ignore that, in all these years, the actor has never lacked work.
son of actors Patty Duke and John Astin (although in reality, his biological father was Michael Tell, and for a long time it was thought that he was the actor Desi Arnaz Jr., in what has been a veritable gibberish of gossip and DNA evidence), Astin made his acting debut very soon accompanying his mother in the telefilm ‘Please, Don’t Hit Me, Mom’, in which he played a young victim of mistreatment. Anyway, the first important role (perhaps the most important?) of his career came in 1985, when the 13-year-old played Mikey in ‘The Goonies’. In 1994 he received an Oscar nomination for his short film ‘Kangaroo Court’ and throughout the decade he appeared in titles such as ‘In honor of the truth’ (1996) or ‘Kimberly, roll her up as you can’ (1999), although always in roles secondary.
In fact, Astin might have been one of those teen stars whose glow fades with time were it not for the fact that in the late ’90s Peter Jackson trusted him to give him the role of one of the hobbits in the trilogy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Astin, however, was the lowest paid member of the entire main cast: He barely earned $250,000 for working on the three films, a pittance if we consider, for example, that Elijah Wood earned a million dollars for appearing for two minutes in ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (2012).
Asked in an ING interview in 2002 if he thought the success of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ would relaunch his career, Astin offered a prescient response: “I don’t think it changes anything personally for me. I want to work are not saturating my phone line. All said and done, Sam’s was Astin’s last truly relevant film role. Since then we have seen him as a guest star in series like ’24’, ‘Las Vegas’, ‘Monk’, ‘My name is Earl’, ‘The Witches of Oz’ or ‘Navy: Criminal Investigation’, or in movies like ’50 first dates’ (where he played a bodybuilder) or ‘Click’, both alongside Adam Sandler. Over time he seems to have specialized in the art of dubbing, and has lent his turn to animated series such as ‘Teenant Mutant Ninja Turtles’, ‘Special Agent Oso’ or ‘Bunnicula’, the character of Shazam in DC Comics movies, and even to Saint Matthew in an audiobook version of the New Testament.
His last notable work has been that of Jimmy Kent in the FX series created by William of the Bull, ‘The Strain’, and various roles in titles such as ‘The Do-Over’ (Steven Brill, 2016), ‘Gloria Bell’ (Sebastián Lelio, 2018) and in the second season of the successful ‘Stranger Things’. He has been married for 24 years ChristineHarrell, former Miss Indiana Teen, with whom he has had three daughters: Alexandra, Elizabeth and Isabel.
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