Although Chris Penn has achieved little of the critical acclaim and none of the notoriety of his older brother, Sean, the rotund actor has become a familiar supporting player and character actor who hasn't had to rely on Sean, either. The brothers have appeared together only once, in the 1986 film At Close Range; in the meantime, Chris has made a name for himself in projects ranging in tone and purpose from Footloose (1984) to Reservoir Dogs (1992).
The son of director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan, and the brother of singer Michael Penn in addition to actors Sean and Matthew, Chris Penn was born on June 10, 1962, in Los Angeles. The actor, sometimes credited as Christopher Penn, started out in the profession at age 12, under the tutelage of Peggy Feury at the Loft Studio in Los Angeles. His film breakthrough came in Francis Ford Coppola's teen gang movie Rumble Fish (1983), which cast him opposite Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke. But it wasn't until Footloose the following year that Penn captured his first truly memorable role. As the burly best buddy of Kevin Bacon's rebellious dance proponent, Penn's simple decency shone through, especially in the lively production number in which his character awkwardly learns to dance, to the strains of Denise Williams' "Let's Hear It for the Boy."