Sean Astin Biography

sean on stool

A few personal details about Sean Astin:


“People will root for anyone who shows them their heart.” —Sean Astin

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, spanning four decades with over 170 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), “The Low Life” (1995), and the inspirational and universally applauded college football biopic “Rudy” (1993).

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, for which he also read an abridged audiobook.

In television, Sean has appeared in numerous movies and series, including multi-episodic runs in J. Michael Straczynski’s “Jeremiah” (2003-2004), the popular thriller “24” (2006), and Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Strain” (2014-2015). He joined the award winning cast of the engrossing and critically acclaimed Netflix series "Stranger Things" (2017-2019) as the beloved Radio Shack manager, Bob Newby. In 2019, he guest starred in three episodes of the final season of "The Big Bang Theory," as well as an episode of "Brooklyn Nine Nine"; and two of "Supergirl" (2019-2020). Sean starred with Melissa Joan Hart in Netflix's multi-camera family dramedy "No Good Nick" (2019). In 2022, he joined the cast of Dwayne Johnson's semi-autobiographical sitcom "Young Rock," as The Rock's former childhood nemesis; in 2023, the second season of HBO's "Perry Mason," as a grocery store magnate; and seasons 5 and 6 of "The Conners" (2023-2024) as Becky's boyfriend, Tyler.

Sean's recent feature films include the award winning thriller "Adverse" (2020) with Mickey Rourke and Ian Thomas Nicholas; the family comedy "Hero Mode" (2021) with Mira Sorvino and Mary Lynn Rajskub; "Charming the Hearts of Men" (2021) about the civil rights struggle of the 60s costarring Kelsey Grammar and Anna Friel; and the comedy "iMordecai", as the son of Judd Hirsch and Carol Kane (2022). He portrayed Gabriel in the faith-based sci-fi thriller "The Shift" (2023) and was in the family comedy "Holiday Twist" (2023), both of which coincidentally also starred Neal McDonough. Upcoming films include the fantasy "Man and Witch" with Christopher Lloyd, Michael Emerson and Tami Stronach, the true-crime thriller "The Man in the White Van," and the political thriller "A Social Contract."

His voice is also familiar to many. He narrated three seasons of the beloved Animal Planet series “Meerkat Manor” (2006-2007), and voiced the title character in the animated Disney Channel series “Special Agent Oso” (2009-2012). 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); and is the Narrator for "The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants" (2018-2020). He reprised his role as Shazam from the animated TV series "Justice League Action" (2016-2020) to take the lead in the full-length feature film, "LEGO DC: Shazam - Magic & Monsters" (2020). Sean provided the narration for audiobook versions of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (2021) and Max Brooks' "Minecraft: The Mountain" (2021) and "Minecraft: The Village (2023). He starred as "Scrooge" (2023) in a new audio dramatization of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, and voiced a lovelorn vampire in Felicia Day's "Third Eye" (2023). He can also be heard in a plethora of other animated shows, video games, audio dramas and narrations.

After four decades of captured performances, Sean ventured in front of a live theater audience, first as Joseph Stalin in a theatrical presentation of "Shostakovich and the Black Monk: A Fantasy" (2018-2019) that included the Emerson String Quartet, and then as Dr. Moricet in the American premiere of "Bang! Bang!" (2018), John Cleese's adaptation of a 19th century French farce. He performed a riveting one-man zoom drama "Fire in the Garden" (2021) for the New Jersey Repertory Company. All three productions were directed by James Gossman.

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.” He also narrated and executive produced the documentary “Remember the Sultana” (2018), about the worst maritime disaster in US history.

ironman2Sean has been a long-distance runner since his teens. His marathons include the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, where he had the honor of officially starting the race, the 2015 Boston Marathon as a member of charity fundraising team MR8, and several LA Marathons. He has done numerous half marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and races of other distances. He successfully completed the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, in October 2015; the grueling event consisted of a 2.4 mile open ocean swim, a 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 mile marathon.

In 2012, while training for the LA Marathon, he began a Twitter campaign using #Run3rd, a way to dedicate his runs to causes and ideas that mattered not just to him, but to others. The principle of #Run3rd is that Sean runs first for himself, since running is ultimately a solitary act, second for his ever-patient and supportive family, and third for others. #Run3rd has grown to include a team of runners, walkers, and others who dedicate their activities to the causes of others. A $25,000 grant from the Ironman Foundation has allowed the charity to fund after school running programs for children in underserved school districts.

Sean has served on the board of several non-profit organizations, including the Los Angeles Valley College's Patrons Association and Arts Council, and the Run3rd Alliance. He is a vocal advocate and volunteer for many issues including climate activism, literacy, mental health awareness and civic engagement, and he frequently lectures on these topics. Sean has served on the SAG-AFTRA national and Los Angeles Local boards as well as a convention delegate since 2021. (His mother, Patty Duke, was president of SAG from 1985-87.) In 2023, he served on the negotiating committee for SAG-AFTRA's contract with the AMPTP, and joined their Government and Public Policy Committee.

Read aloudSean has been actively engaged in the political world since early in his life. He served in two non-partisan Presidential appointments. In 1995, under President Bill Clinton, he became a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, serving for 10 years under six secretaries in two administrations. In December 2022, the Secretary of the Army, Christine Wormuth, gave Sean CASA Emeritus status for his continued support of service members and their families. He was also appointed by President George W. Bush to his Council on Service and Civic Participation, whose mission was to promote a culture of volunteerism and civic engagement. Sean has campaigned actively in several national political races.

Vox pop

In 2012, Sean founded a political podcast focussing on the need to foster civil discourse in the national conversation. The show, whimsically called “Vox Populi: Voice of the ‘Occasionally’ Interested People” recorded over thirty episodes in its first season. A second season aired in 2014. Episodes are archived at

Sean is the son of Academy and multiple-Emmy Award Winning actress Anna "Patty Duke" Pearce and acclaimed actor John Astin; his brother Mackenzie Astin enjoys a thriving motion picture and television career. Rounding out the acting family, eldest daughter Ali has worked with her father on three films and has appeared on TV. She graduated from Harvard University in 2019 with a BA in Theater, Dance and Media, and has been working on a Master's degree.

Sean attended the Crossroads High School for the Arts and later a master class at the Stella Adler Conservatory in Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA in 1997 with a B.A. in History and English (American literature and culture). Sean is currently working on an online Master's degree in Public Administration and Policy at American University.

Sean married Christine Harrell on July 11, 1992. They have three daughters: Alexandra "Ali" (born November 27, 1996), Elizabeth (born August 6, 2002), and Isabella "Bella" (born July 22, 2005), all with the middle name Louise.

Sean and family

Marathon and triathlon times

March 29, 1998 Los Angeles Marathon 4:04:42
March 21, 2010 Los Angeles Marathon 5:16:12
March 18, 2012 Los Angeles Marathon 4:25:47
March 17, 2013 Los Angeles Marathon 4:42:31
June 16, 2013 San Francisco Marathon 5:03:53
October 13, 2013 Chicago Marathon 4:31:05
October 26, 2014 Marine Corps Marathon 4:30:56
November 16, 2014 Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon 5:03:53
January 11, 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon 4:55:21
April 20, 2015 Boston Marathon 4:49:53
July 12, 2015 Vineman 70.3 Triathlon swim 42:10; bike 3:25:51; run 2:54:43; total 7:25:19
October 10, 2015 Ironman Kona World Championship Triathlon. swim 1:45:00, T1 9:21, bike 7:11:56, T2 17:52, run 6:06:22, Total 15:30:31.
October 9, 2016 Portland Marathon 5:55:56
November 6, 2016 New York City Marathon 6:02:33

February 17, 2024