Tribute: Chris Penn

91336__penn_lActor Chris Penn was found dead on Tuesday atan apartment near the Pacific Ocean in the Los Angeles suburbof Santa Monica, according to police. Though a cause of death has yet to be determined, police said they didn’t suspect foul play.

As we await more details about his mysterious, untimely death (depending on the source, he was just 40 or 43), you can remember him with your own mini-film festival of his best roles:

Footloose (1984) In which Kevin Bacon teaches the lean, mean farmboy how to dance. Let’s hear it for the boy.

At Close Range (1986) Chris’ only movie with his brother Sean (mom Eileen Ryan’s in it too) features the Penns as stepbrothers whose criminal dad is the world’s worst role model — he’s played by Christopher Walken at his most terrifying.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Quentin Tarantino helps Penn reinvent his career with the role of Nice Guy Eddie. Penn plays Mini-Me to veteran gangster-pic star Laurence Tierney and establishes the thuggish persona that will last the rest of his career.

Short Cuts (1993) In his shocking performance as the frustrated husband of phone-sex operator Jennifer Jason Leigh, Penn is a standout in Robert Altman’s ensemble epic.

(2005) In a showdown of the showbiz lesser brothers, Penn (guest-starring as himself in the episode ”An Offer Refused”) took on Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon). The actor’s visage, increasingly bloated in recent years, was pretty frightening, but Penn’s fearsome power would have been apparent in his performance alone.

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Comments (31 total) Add your comment
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  • Ned

    I know it’s probably everybody’s favorite, but his performance of Nice Guy Eddie in Resevoir Dogs was fantastic. That scene near the end, where he’s grilling Mr. Orange, was so intense. I still can’t believe he’s gone, he was so young. My condolences to his family.

  • john

    i’m not trying to be funny or ironic or anything, but i think his best performance was in abel ferrara’s “the funeral.”

  • cassie

    my fave chris penn movies:
    to wong foo, thanks for everything, julie newmar
    corky romano
    stealing harvard
    played a mean a**hole in all of them. he will be missed. his death comes as a huge shock.

  • Lynny

    I got tears in my eyes when I read this story this morning. I was always happy to see him in something I was watching. I squealed last season when he was on Entourage. He was very talented and always underappreciated. Maybe now the world will take a moment to pay him a little attention- better late than never. He had a great voice- always distinguishable from any other. “Why don’t you tell me what really happened”- I can still hear it in my head. He will be missed. R.I.P.

  • JoshP

    don’t forget about True Romance. that’s a great movie.

  • Ep Sato

    I too am saddened by the loss of Chris Penn. An amazing actor, Mr. Penn had a “next door neighbor” quality about him that made his gangster characters particularly intimidating.
    The Entertainment industry has lost some greats in recent years, but Chris Penn’s death is a particularly big loss, especially for fans of Indpenendent cinema.

  • susu005

    Chris was grossly undervalued as an actor.. His talents are many and he will be sorely missed.. I was shocked to hear this sad news on the radio I almost drove off the road.. Condolences to the Penn family

  • maria

    oh, poor Willard.
    He’s my favorite part of Footloose… next to Kevin Bacon’s skinny tie and that guy at the dance who is digging in his nose.
    Will be missed. Sniffle. Tears.

  • Tosy and Cosh

    Penn gave a brilliant performance in a first-season episode of Chicago Hope, as a young man taking an operating room hostage when a last-minute change is made and his dying brother is refused the donor heart he was scheduled to receive.

  • mte

    what was the name of the martial arts movie he was in with eric roberts?

  • Thad

    TRUE ROMANCE, baby! Chris at his best. Miss him already

  • Sue

    Deepest condelences to the Penn family. Loved his performance in Resevoir Dogs and Foot Loose.

  • Stef

    The episode of Everwood he was in last year made me cry a lot. He played a father that accidentally shot his son in a hunting accident and wanted to give part of his liver to save his son. It was so sad and touching and I still remember the way he said “I shot my son.” This is a very sad loss.

  • Sad Day

    Reading the Yahoo headline this morning – at first I thought it said Sean Penn. Which would have been a total shock to the system. But then I saw it was Chris – and you know – he wasn’t as high a profile film star as his brother, but he was awesome in Footloose, Reservoir Dogs, Entourage… the guy was downright likeable. He kicked Drama’s @$$ in the ring – hilarious! It was like seeing an old friend when I saw him turn up on that show. He will be missed.

  • Richard Tassey

    I will see you on the next side and we will have a few laughs. I started watching you when i was young and I feel like I lost a brother.I just found out and it brought tears to my eyes.The best roles that I liked was footloose and at close range. when Chris walken shot you and you said DAD. That was so sad they way you said it I could feel the pain of haveing your own Father do that. May you be at rest and I know that you feel the love that in the coming days will be poured out for you. And at last your acting will be told for what it is (GREAT) You my friend will be missed very much.Rest in peace untill we meet.From one of your fans.. richard

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