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The Oscar-winning actor recently did a retrospective of his illustrious career with GQ, which started with the beloved 1982 Cameron Crowe classic that featured Penn as the beach-bum teenage stoner.
Penn has never identified his muse — in fact, the actor says the man doesn’t even know he was the inspiration (that may change should he read about the interaction).
“I recently ran into him for the first time [since childhood],” Penn said. “We were passing on a trail to and from the beach. And this man with his wife and children was walking down the path, who spoke in this very articulate way. He greeted me. He had the advantage of watching me age, so he knew that it was me. And then he had to introduce himself. And I couldn’t believe it was him.”
During the same segment, Penn talked about how his initial audition for the film was a total disaster, but nevertheless, casting director Don Phillips saw something in him.
“He was an actor lover,” Penn recalled. “He saw things that maybe you weren’t even presenting. So he convinced them to see me again; pushed and pushed. And the next thing I knew, I got the part.
Watch the entire retrospective below.
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Tokyo Film Festival