Sean Penn was hailed as "the best actor of his generation." Then his tumultuous marriage to Madonna turned his life into pulp fiction, even landing him in jail. But Penn was made of sterner stuff, re-emerging as a brilliant director, devoted father, occasional hell-raiser ... and reluctant actor, capable nevertheless of breathtaking performances (Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown, Mystic River, and most recently 21 Grams). Inspired by the example of his father Leo, a decorated World War II serviceman whose acting career was cruelly curtailed during the 1940s blacklist era, he also found his political voice. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Penn and his family, friends, and colleagues (Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon, Bono, Christopher Walken, Anjelica Huston, Kevin Spacey, and many more), author Kelly creates a richly detailed and multi-faceted portrait of an uncompromising American artist.