His closc conncction to Nicholson cnsurcd many linc actors camc on board to assume small rolcs including Sam Shcpard. Vancssa Rcdgrayc. llclcn Mirrcn. Mickcy Rourkc. Harry Dcan Stanton and Bcnicio dcl 'Ioro. (‘hris Mcngcs was responsible for the outstanding cincmatography and Hans Zimmcr thc ccric scorc. It was budgctcd at a modcst £30m. and shot in Vancouy'cr and thc wilds of British Columbia.

‘lt‘s a rctircmcnt crisis story. disguiscd as a thrillcr.‘ hc says. ‘Al‘tcr 'I'lw (‘mssing Guard [in which Nicholson playcd an obscssiyc l'athcr dcspcratc to confront thc man who killch his daughtcr in a road accidcntl l wanch at all costs to work again with Jack. I noticcd during the shoot that hc rcad a lot of thrillcrs. I asked Michael [Fitzgerald Pcnn‘s produccrl to find somcthing for mc a thrillcr but somcthing that was morc than a thrillcr.

‘llc brought mc l)iirrcnmatt’s noycl and wc hircd Jcr/y and Mary Kromolowski to writc thc script. What touchcd mc was thc story of a man who starts his rctircmcnt and linds it disruptcd. lt rcmindcd mc of‘ my grandl‘athcr who was a baker. thn hc rctircd hc bccamc scnilc ycry quickly. and dicd shortly thcrcal‘tcr. l was touchcd by that aspect of thc story it‘s not a film about thc crime of murdcr but about thc dctcctiyc and his dcstiny.’

lnnoccncc undcr thrcat. onc ol‘ Pcnn‘s pcrpctual thcmcs. is at the hcart of thc lilm. Hc suggcsts that cmotions we i‘ccl as adults such as anger and uncasc arc all to do with thc corruption of innoccncc. ‘You always try to rcturn to that pcriod ol‘ innoccncc.’ he says. ‘Talking about it is onc way of finding it again.’

Penn in his rclationship with Robin Wright (who plays in The Pledge as a roadhousc waitrcss with an abusiyc cx- husband) appcars to have achicycd part of that statc of~ gracc. llc dotcs on his daughtcr Dylan liranccs. ninc. and son lloppcr Jack. scycn. Hc‘s attcntiyc and all‘cctionatc. takcs thcm boating and biking. and scnds thcm to slccp with a rcading of Harry P()I'I(’l'.

Anothcr factor in Pcnn’s maturing was the dcth l’rom canccr of his father l.co Pcnn (thc dircctor and actor) somc two ycars ago. Hc was in thc middlc of shooting Woody .-\llcn‘s Sir-cc! x‘lld I.(m'(/()it‘n at thc timc. and hc kcpt rcturning to l.os Arigclcs from New

‘The moviegoing senSIbIIIty In the States resembles York to bc with him

L‘\‘C" wcckc d. ‘l the electoral '~‘

humbch him.‘ his process: wilc has said. llc choose stays cl‘osc to hrs _ mothcr lzilccn Ryan. cand|dates as an actrcss. and his choose youngcr actor brothcr _ ( hrrs but his lathcr. mowes’ subjch to thc .\*lc(‘arthy Witchhunts in thc 50s and br'andcd a Communist. was an cnor‘mous influcncc. ()thcrs hayc bccn John (‘assayctcs. I)cnnis l-loppcr. writcr (‘harlcs Bukowski. and. of course. Nicholson. "The support hc gives the l.akcrs [Nicholson‘s ithOtll‘lIC baskctball tcarnl is nothing likc as big as thc support hc gives to his l'cllow actors. 'l‘o scc a car arriyc on sct at six in thc morning and that l'acc to gct out of the back of it and say “Morning boys“ is truly a grcat thing.‘ Such a remark could be a contcndcr for thc Order of thc Brown Nosc but l’cnn actually means it. llc and his family now live way out of his Angclcs in Marin (‘ounty in a housc with its own pool. tennis court and cditing suitc. 'l‘hc moyc camc at‘tcr Robin Wright was carjackcd at gunpoint in thc driycway ot’ thcir Santa Monica homc whcn thc two childrcn wcrc with hcr in thc car. Shc ncgotiatcd with thc would-bc abductors. who lct thcm go unharmcd. l’cnn has an

of‘licc for his company (‘lydc ls llungry l‘ilms (so namcd al‘tcr

onc of his dogs) within lirancis l‘ord (‘oppola‘s /.octropc opcration in San l‘rancisco. Pcnn may hayc bccn tamcd to a dcgrcc. but hc‘s a still a rcstlcss

and prowling talcnt who lirmly bclicycs ‘slccp is a big wastc oi

timc‘. Thc rcbcl. at long last. has rccciycd his wakc-up call.

The Pledge (Film) UGC, Edinburgh, Thu 23 Aug, 8.30pm. Sean Penn Reel Life (Film) UGC, Edinburgh, Fri 24 Aug, 7pm.

Helen Mirren

Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn

Benicio Del Tom and Aaron Eckhart

Significant moments in Sean Penn’s filmography

I Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Made the year after his acting debut in 1981 's Taps. the brat pack movie brought Penn to public attention.

I At Close Range

The first signs of Penn showing himself to be the best actor of his generation, a crime drama in which he holds his own against the formidable acting talent of Christopher Walken.

I Shanghai Surprise

This retro 30s-set rom-com adventure isn't a great piece of filmmaking. but it teams up mid-803 Hollywood '5 hottest COuple. Penn and former wife Madonna.

I Casualties Of War Penn proves his acting range by playing a villain, a GI in Vietnam who commits rape and murder.

I The Indian Runner Penn's writing-directing debut in 1991, like his other two films an intense drama couched in the conventions of a thriller. Penn was to cast Jack Nicholson in his later films. but here he opts for old screen idols Dennis Hopper and Charles Bronson.

I Carlito’s Way

Penn's second film for Brian De Palma (the other was Casualties Of War) sees him cast in a very non-glamorous role as a weasly lawyer (with nasty corkscrew Afro hairdo) to Al Pacino‘s cool ex-con.

I Dead Man Walking The first of two Best Actor Oscar nominations (the other was Sweet And Lowdown) for Penn, here playing a death row convicted killer. Penn spons the second outlandish hairdo of his career. a boufiant quiff number.

I U-Turn

Hard-boiled style thriller from Oliver Stone with a killer cast headed by Penn who plays an unlucky-in-life drifter who ends up in a nightmare backwater town.

I Sweet And Lowdown Penn proves his comic talents taking the lead in Woody Allen's mock- historical tale of the second greatest jazz guitarist ever. Again. a remarkable gravity- defying hairdo. modelled on 305 fashion.

I The Weight 01 Water The next film in which Penn appears as an actor. a thriller spanning centuries directed by action woman Kathryn ‘Po/nt Break' Bigelow.

><.\-...;; .5 Sort :w'. THE LIST FESTIVAL euro: 11