Sean Penn

By EW Staff
January 20, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Sean Penn: Merie W. Wallace
  • Movie

Sean Penn is among this year’s Award winners

FOR ”Mystic River”

WHY? Penn ignited a backlash when he played diplomat in Iraq, and his stints in the director’s chair have resulted in relentlessly bleak movies (”The Pledge,” ”The Crossing Guard”) that have scared moviegoers away. But when he sticks to acting, there’s no one more electric. He proved that twice this year, with his portrayal of a guilt-wracked heart transplant patient in ”21 Grams” and his Globe-nominated turn as a neighborhood guy driven to extremes by his daughter’s murder in ”Mystic River.” We’d hate to run into these guys in a dark alley, but we hope Penn will keep showing up to play them.

(Golden Globe nomination: Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama)