May Flowers, evenings at 11... or thereabouts
Playing against type is an ancient Oscar-winning trick but it only works if you do it really well (or if enough people are hoodwinked into believing you've done it really well). A lot of people, including myself and Academy voters, rethought Sean Penn last fall due to his twinkly and affable work in Milk. The famously sour Penn was suddenly funny, likeable, warm... sweet even.
In other words, not "Sean Penn".
How on earth will he follow Harvey Milk up?
He himself probably isn't feeling the pressure, "Great Actor" status having been granted long long ago, but I was curious. Would he return to directing, to more typically Penn parts? Turns out the 48 year-old actor is booked until he's 50. At least. He's got five new identities lined up for our cinematic enjoyment over the next two years.
Contemplative Narrating Penn: In Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (previous post) he plays "adult Jack" and since the film is focused on a father (Brad Pitt) and his three boys... I guess that means Sean Penn is playing Brad Pitt's son. Brad really did age in reverse!
Political Penn: In Doug Liman's Bush era dramatization Fair Game he's Joseph Wilson, the administration's nemesis and husband to CIA Agent Valerie Plame, played here by Naomi Watts. It's their third time playing Very Intense Screen Couple (see also: 21 Grams and The Assassination of Richard Nixon).
Tough Penn: I'm not sure who he is playing in Cartel, but it involves guards protecting a lawyer trying a mafia case.
Slapstick Penn: He's "Larry" in the Farrely Brothers The Three Stooges... but you knew that already. Jim Carrey is "Curly" and Benicio Del Toro is "Moe"
Rock Star Penn: I saved the oddest one for last. Odder than The Three Stooges? Maybe not. Okay okay, I saved the furthest away for last. Paolo Sorrentino, the Italian writer/director behind the award winning Il Divo, is prepping a movie called This Must Be the Place. The plot is unusual. A retired rocker (Penn) decides to find his dad's executioner, a former Nazi.
Excited for Penn's upcoming projects? Or are you more excited about the continuing drama of the on again off again on again off again on again off again (I actually think that's the right number of times) Robin Wright Penn divorce? Can those two crazy kids make it work? Or make it work again as the case may be?