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Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee

Samwise Gamgee Sean Astin

Date of Birth: February 25 1971
Place: Santa Monica, California
5’ 7” (1.70m)
Education: Graduated from UCLA with honours and a B.A in History and English.
Tattoos: a #9 tattoo in Elvish on his ankle
Family: Father John Astin, Mother Patty Duke and younger brother Mackenzie, three daughters, Alexandra (b. 1996), Elizabeth (b. 2002), Isabella (b. 2005)
Official Site: http://www.seanastin.com/

Samwise Gamgee Samwise Gamgee Samwise Gamgee Samwise GamgeeSamwise GamgeeSam and Rosie

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Sean Patrick Astin was born February 25, 1971 in Santa Monica, California to John Astin (famous for playing Gomez on “The Addams Family” (1964) among other things) and Patty Duke, both actors. He was their first child, but when Sean was two his brother Mackenzie was born (he also became an actor). They also have three older half-brothers, David, Allen and Tom, who belong to their father.

Sean was literally brought up on acting due to his famous parents. Although you may think that his first acting job was in ‘The Goonies’ (1985), it wasn’t. In 1981, at age 9, Sean starred with his mother in the after-school special, ‘Please don’t hit me, Mom’. ‘The Goonies’ followed and since then he has had a steady stream of good roles. Sean attended Crossroads High School for the Arts. He has also studied with the famous Stella Adler.

Of course, we all know that starring in a teen comedy is almost inevitable for a young actor. Sean was no exception. In 1987 he co-starred with another teen heartthrob, Kirk Cameron, in ‘Like Father, Like Son’. A few very good movies followed, including ‘Toy Soldiers’ (1991) and ‘Where the Day Takes you’ (1992). More recently Sean has starred in ‘Rudy’ (1993) and the Showtime movie, ‘Harrison Bergeron’ (1995). He directed and co-produced ‘Kangaroo Court’ (199$) which was nominated in the Best Short Film category at the 67th Annual Academy Awards in 1995. Interestingly enough, Sean’s father was nominated for the same award in 1969.

Sean is now married to Christine Astin, who co – produced ‘Kangaroo Court’ with him. The couple live in Los Angeles. Even though he’s a successful director, he’s
not about to give up acting.

Random Facts

  •  Left the room halfway during recording DVD commentary for ‘The Goonies’ (1985) and never returned. The recording session has started late, and Sean had an earlier commitment to introduce friend Joe Pantoliano who was  M.C.’ing at a local theatre. Left the recording studio to change clothes, then returned to explain why he had to leave, gave a “shout out to Joey Pants,” and left an action figure of Sam Gamgee to take his place. However, the departure and explanation was edited out by the DVD producers.

  • His biological father is actually Michael Tell, whom Patty Duke was married to for only a month in 1970. Sean was adopted at age 3 by John Astin, but considers both men to be his father.

  • On 4 December 2001, Sean had his image as “Samwise Gamgee” immortalized on a 90 cent New Zealand postage stamp that he shares with Lord of the Rings co-star Elijah Wood (“Frodo Baggins”). However, Sean’s last name is spelled incorrectly on the presentation pack of the stamps (Austin instead of Astin).

  • August 6 2002, welcomed second child, daughter Elizabeth Louise.

  • During principal photography for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Astin directed trilogy director, Peter Jackson, and fellow cast members in a documentary short about camaraderie and friendship within difficult working environments. This topic mirrored a significant theme of the trilogy.

  • Had to gain 35 to 40 pounds for his role of Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

  • In February 2003, Sean was appointed to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

  • Announced at the Texas Film Festival on 22 February 2003 that he has optioned the book “Issac’s Storm” and is planning on an epic film centered around the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.

  • While filming LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) ran into a lake to stop Frodo (Elijah Wood). When he did this he stepped on a piece of glass and had to be rushed to the hospital. He received many stitches to repair the injury.

  • Was knocked unconscious when a wooden loom fell on him on the Rivendell set
  • Started his own production company, Lava Entertainment, in the late ‘80s.
  • Attended Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, California with actor/musician Jack Black. Was cast in a school play/film when Black backed out.


Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2005)
Mark Twain's Greatest Adventure: 'It's a Matter of Time' (2005)
Cowboys for Christ (2006)
Cat Tale (2006) (filming)
The Final Season (2006)
Borderland (2005)
Astérix et les Vikings (2006)
Click (2006)
Kingdom Hearts II (2005)
Smile (2005/I)
Bigger Than the Sky (2005)
Slipstream (2005)
Caught In the Act (2004)
Thanks to Gravity (2004)
Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School (2004)
Smile (2004)
Elvis has left the building (2004)
Slipstream (2004)
50 First Dates (2004)
“Party Wagon” (2003)
Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (2003)
“Jeremiah” (2002)
Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002)
Kingdom Hearts (2002)
Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Sky is Falling (2000)
The Last Producer (2000)
Icebreaker (1999
Deterrence (1999)
Kimberly (1999)
Dish Dogs (1998)
Boy Meets (1998)
Bulworth (1998)
Courage Under Fire (1996)
The Low Life (1995)
Harrison Bergeron (1995)
Safe Passage (1994)
Teresa’s (1994)
Rudy (1993)
Where the Day Takes You (1992)
Encino Man (1992)
The Willies (1991)
Toy Soldiers (1991)
Memphis Belle (1990)
The War of the Roses (1989)
Staying Together (1989)
Like Father, Like Son (1987)
White Water Summer (1987)
The B.R.A.T Patrol (1986)
The Goonies (1985)
The Rules of Marriage (1982)
Please don’t hit me, Mom (1981)

Personal quotes

"I was told I had to gain a lot of weight because Hobbits are very portly. Peter is forever suggesting I have more food. 'A little more food for Mr. Astin.'"

"But I'm not really Sam... Nobody could be that good, that noble. He's just better than the rest of us. I'm a lot more Hollywood than Sam would ever be." [refuting the remarks of cast and crew that Sean IS Samwise Gamgee]

"I'd never heard of The Lord of the Rings, actually. So I went to the bookstore and there it was, three shelves of books about Tolkien and Middle-earth, and I was like, 'Holy cow, what else am I missing out on?'"

[about the scene in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) in which Sam helps Frodo up Mount Doom:] "It was an incredible acting experience, being on the side of a volcano with that language. That language is so beautiful. 'It'll be springtime soon, and they'll be sowing barley on the fields.' When Peter came up to tell me to lower my arm, something like that, tears were streaming down his face, and to see him that emotional just forced me into it. ... It [i.e., finally seeing the last three reels of the film] was a huge cry. It was all of the tension and stress and pressure of having a wife and children, having a career, the investment of these movies. I was sobbing and heaving, I could barely breathe, and the movie facilitated that. It was just a huge release." [December 18, 2003]

[on his character Sam Gamgee:] "I spent the film doing lots of things, but the crying is what lived. He [Peter Jackson] tricks you into thinking you're going to get to do all these brave, heroic things most of the time, and you have to cry once in a while ... and then he cuts out the heroic moments and you're left thinking, 'I look like a big baby'." [December 14, 2003]

"I don't care if I'm 5-foot-7-inches tall and pretty heavy, weight-wise, in the film [i.e., the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy]. I still see myself as Errol Flynn. Even when I was a little boy, playing war games in the back yard, I pictured myself as the hero." [February 12, 2004]

"I remember, before we started principal photography on The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson screened Braveheart (1995) and Thin Red Line, The (1998) for the cast. He said, 'This is the tone I want to strike with the Ring movies. I want to see the grime on their faces, the dirt on the ground, and I want that level of gritty emotionalism and intensity.' I think his idea was that you can enjoy the fantasy more if you really believe it." [February 12, 2004]

[on souvenirs from Middle-earth:] "I got Sam's backpack, which began to feel like a second skin, albeit a very uncomfortable skin. I also got to keep Sam's sword, as well as some hobbit feet and ears. I can take them out and make the whole family smile!" [February 12, 2004]

There and Back again : An Actor’s tale
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful film franchises in cinematic history. Winner of a record 17 Academy Awards and breaking box office records worldwide, the trilogy is a breathtaking cinematic achievement beloved by fans everywhere.

For Sean Astin, a Hollywood child (son of Patty Duke and John Astin) who made his feature film debut at 13 in the 1980s classic The Goonies and played the title role in Rudy, the call from his agent about the role of Samwise Gamgee couldn't have come at a better time. His career was at a low point and choice roles were hard to come by. His 18-month experience in New Zealand with director Peter Jackson and the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings films would be more than simply a dream come true — it would prove to be the challenge of a lifetime.

"There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale" is the personal memoir of Sean Astin, from his early days in Hollywood to the movie role that changed his life. Though much has been written about the making of the films, Sean's first hand story of what took place on the set has never before been told.

Sean's candid account of his 24 years of professional acting experience culminating in The Lord of the Rings provides an unparalleled perspective. More than a companion guide to the Rings films, "There and Back Again" is filled with stories from the set about the actors and filmmakers who joined together to bring Tolkien's vision to life. It's an eye-opening tale told by a Hollywood veteran, of the , sweat and tears that went into the making of some of the most ambitious and successful films of all times.

All letters should be sent to:

c/o William Morris Agency
Attn: Samantha Crisp
151 S. El Camino Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212-2775


Sean Astin
PO Box 57858
Sherman Oaks, CA 91413

Contributed by LOTRUK member, Samwise Gamgee and Elril Galia

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