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Chris Penn - Obituary

Chris Penn

Obituary by Jack Foley

CHRIS Penn established a reputation as a strong character actor with a penchant for tough guy roles following his memorable performance as Nice Guy Eddie in Quentin Tarantino’s seminal Reservoir Dogs.

The younger brother of Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn, he had built up a strong body of work since making his debut in the 1983 gang film, Rumble Fish.

Chris was found dead at his Santa Monica home on January 24, 2006, after police received a phone call from inside the complex.

Born in the early 1960s in California, Chris was the son of television director, Leo Penn, and actress, Eileen Ryan. He seemed destined for a career in the movies from the outset and began studying acting at Loft Studio in California from the age of 12.

After his big-screen breakthrough in Rumble Fish, Penn went on to appear alongside Kevin Bacon in cult 1984 dance movie Footloose as well as a whole host of other films during the 1980s.

However, it was his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs that provided him with the highest profile of his career, promoting the Washington Post to hail his performance as ‘extraordinary’.

He followed it up with a role as a police officer in True Romance, appearing alongside Christian Slater, Tom Sizemore and Christopher Walken in Tony Scott’s adaptation of another classic Tarantino screenplay.

During the 1990s, he contributed memorable performances in ensemble pieces such as Robert Altman’s Shortcuts and The Funeral, for which he won a best supporting actor award at the 1996 Venice International Film Festival.

He also appeared in the box office smash, Rush Hour, as well as smaller films such as Mulholland Falls.

His last film, The Darwin Awards, co-starred Winona Ryder, Joseph Fiennes and David Arquette, and was due to have its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival (in his presence).

He will long be remembered for his on-screen persona, which married wise-cracking charisma with a tough guy presence.