While Sean Penn and his ex-wife Robin Wright have lived most of their lives in the spotlight, their two children – daughter Dylan, 21, and son Hopper, 19 – really haven't. That changed Tuesday when Hopper, had a nasty run-in with paparazzi during which he hurled racial and gay slurs at an African-American photographer.
The teen – who was with his father when the incident occurred, although the actor, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of gay activist Harvey Milk in 2008, was walking in front of him and was likely out of earshot – has since apologized. "I was accosted by paparazzi and made to feel like an animal – threatened and under attack, but that does not condone my own actions,” he told TMZ. “I deeply regret my choice of words.” (A rep for Sean hasn’t yet responded to omg!’s request for comment.)
So who is Hopper Penn? Here are five things to know about the teen other than the obvious – that he’s the spitting image of famous father and apparently shares the star's disdain for the paparazzi...
He's Named After Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. Not only was Hopper Jack Penn born to famous parents, but he was named after two acting legends – both of whom were friends with his father. In an interview with New York magazine, Sean talked about the origins of his son's name, saying that when he first saw "Easy Rider," which starred both iconic actors, "It certainly set my mind free about what movies can be." However, the star noted that he and Robin were also just fans of the name combination. "These were names that we’d liked, aesthetically,” he added.
He Largely Grew Up Outside of Hollywood. In the late '90s, Sean and Robin moved from Los Angeles to Marin County, which is about six hours north of Hollywood. “I didn’t want to raise my kids in this weird, sycophantic society,” Robin told Entertainment Weekly. “If you have celebrity parents, it’s not a good recipe for the kids, or anyone at any age." However, after Wright filed for divorce from Penn in 2009, she moved back to L.A. where her daughter now attends college and Hopper finished high school. "New beginnings, definitely," she told Redbook in October of that year. "For me, my career too. My kids are older now."
His High School Years Weren't Without Drama. In November 2009 – soon after moving to a new school – Hopper was said to be involved in a drug-related incident at his new school. At the time People.com reported that two 16-year-old boys were arrested for illegal drug possession of the painkiller Vicodin at Malibu High School. Los Angeles police wouldn't name Hopper specifically, but didn't deny the rumors that he was one of the teens taken into custody.
He Nearly Died After a Skate-Boarding Injury. Around the same time, Hopper – who lived with his father following his parents’ divorce – sustained a head injury in a skateboard accident and underwent emergency brain surgery."He underwent risky surgery due to intense bleeding of the brain," Sean later told Vanity Fair, "and he pulled through.” He elaborated in an interview with Esquire, saying, "When he was recovering, seeing the morphine go into him and give him relief created kind of a love affair for me with morphine and that usage of it. It had already been eight months of divorce and s**t, and raising a kid that's going through the divorce himself, and then this f**king thing happens. He's 100 percent now, no brain damage – he's great. Got a few scars, but he's great. But it was a tough, tough time." After he healed, Hopper made his film debut in the 2011 movie short, “Back in the Game."
He Inspired His Father's Decision to Help Haitians After the 2010 Earthquake. After Hopper’s accident, the teen, who loves playing the guitar and going to concerts with his dad (Pearl Jam and Green Day included), moved in with Robin, leaving Sean on his own for the first time in more than 20 years. Sean told Esquire that period of time was eye-opening. "I thought, 'Wow, I can actually go on a date.' And so I go out and I strike out four nights in a row, drinking at a bar and ending up home, you know, drunk. And on the fourth day I said, 'I could just go sit in the middle of the bed and watch TV at four in the afternoon, too. I don't have anything. My daughter's ... doing her thing, my son's with his mother. So I turned on the TV and there was this earthquake in Haiti." Hopper’s brush with death ultimately influenced Sean to repay his karmic debt. “I wanted to give back something more to help struggling people," told Vanity Fair.
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