Sean Astin had starred in ten movies, directed a short film, and formed his own production company all before his 21st birthday. The elder son of actress Patty Duke and actor/director John Astin, he knew the hazards of Hollywood life: As a popular child star, Astin refrained from drinking, drugs, and narcissism. He juggled acting with attending classes at Crossroads High School for the Arts and Los Angeles Valley College, eventually graduating cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles with dual degrees in History and American Literature and Culture. When his younger brother, fellow kid actor Mackenzie Astin, temporarily fled Los Angeles to pursue journalism, Astin doggedly remained in town -- he once half-heartedly considered a law career, but could never part with being an entertainer.
Astin was born in Santa Monica, CA, on February 25, 1971. His famous parents actively supported his childhood ambition to become an actor, and Astin was cast in TV specials, movies, and even series until 1983. Barely a year later, screenwriter Steven Spielberg handpicked the 13-year-old Astin to star as Michael "Mikey" Walsh in Richard Donner's children's adventure film The Goonies (1985). Astin earned his first Young Artist Award for his work on the film and went on to act in a host of teen pictures. He headlined the Disney Channel television movie The B.R.A.T. Patrol (1986), joined Kevin Bacon for the wilderness adventure White Water Summer (1987), and appeared with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron in the comedy Like Father, Like Son (1987).