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Michael Pena
Also known as: Michael Anthony Pena
Actor • Voice Cast
Born: January 13, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois, United States Of America
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About
Michael Anthony Pena is an American actor and musician who has appeared in several Academy Award-winning movies such as Crash (2004), Babel (2003), and Million Dollar Baby (2004). Pena, who began his acting career in 1996, has also appeared in several TV shows with his role as Sal Castro in Walkout (2006) fetching him the Imagen Award for Best Actor - Television.

EARLY LIFE
Pena was born to social worker Nicolasa, and Eleuterio Pena, who worked in a factory. Both his parents emigrated from Mexico, and were originally farmers.

PERSONAL LIFE
Michael Pena is married to Brie Shaffer, and they have a child together named Roman, who was born in September 2008.

TELEVISION CAREER
Pena made his television debut in 1996, in the American crime drama series Pacific Blue (1996). Subsequently, he appeared in minor roles in TV shows such as Homicide: Life on the Street (1998), The Sentinel (1998), and the Profiler (1999). In 1999, Pena appeared in five episodes of the acclaimed American drama series Felicity created by J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves. In the next five years Pena starred in several TV shows such as Roswell (2001), The Twilight Zone (2003), and the successful medical drama E.R. (2003).

However, it was only in 2005 that Pena bagged his first substantial role, in the TV series The Shield. Essaying the character of Detective Armando Renta, Pena was seen in the fourth season of the show appearing in 10 episodes. The following year, Pena earned his big break on television with a role in the HBO TV movie, Walkout, which was inspired by the true story of the 1968 East L.A. walkouts. Pena portrayed the character of Sal Castro in the acclaimed tv movie, a performance which won him the Black Reel Award for Network/Cable - Best Supporting Actor and the Imagen Award for Best Actor - Television. He has since starred in TV shows such Eastbound & Down (2010), Chozen (2014), and Gracepoint (2014).

MOVIE CAREER
Pena made his silver screen debut with the 1996 comedy movie My Fellow Americans, which starred Jack Lemmon and James Garner. He subsequently appeared in minor supporting roles in a number of movies, notably the action heist film Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) and the satire Buffalo Soldiers (2001). The actor`s breakthrough role came with the 2004 Academy Award-winning drama film Crash. Directed by Paul Haggis, the movie highlighted the racial and social tensions in California and was inspired by a true event experienced by Haggis. Pena played the role of Daniel Ruiz, a Hispanic locksmith, and went on to receive the ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. He next starred as Omar in Clint Eastwood`s Academy Award-winning movie Million Dollar Baby.

The year 2006 saw Pena appear in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu`s Babel and World Trade Centre, a disaster-drama movie directed by Oliver Stone. The movie based on the September 11 Attacks on the World Trade Centre received positive reviews from the critics, while Pena, for his performance as Police Officer Will Jemino, was nominated for the ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. Following appearances in movies such as Shooter (2007), The Lucky Ones (2008) and Everything Must Go (2010), he was nominated for yet another ALMA Award for Favorite Movie Actor for his role in the critically panned but commercially successful military sci-fi war film Battle: Los Angeles (2011) directed by Jonathan Liebesman.

In 2012, Pena starred alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in the crime drama movie End of Watch. The movie was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received positive reviews from the critics. Pena underwent five months of police training for his role as Officer Zavala, and was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the movie. The following year, he essayed the role of FBI agent Paco Hernandez in the black comedy-crime film American Hustle, which starred Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in the lead roles.

In 2014, Pena won yet another ALMA Award for Special Achievement in the Film for portraying Cesar Chavez, the American labor leader who co-founded the United Farm Workers, in the biographical movie Cesar Chavez (2014). The movie premiered at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival and received mixed reviews upon its theatrical release. The year 2015 saw Pena appearing in pivotal supporting roles in two blockbusters: the MCU superhero film Ant-Man where he essayed the role of small-time-crook-turned-sidekick Luis, and the sci-fi survival film The Martian where he played astronaut Rick Martinez. The British black comedy buddy cop film War on Everyone was Pena`s major release in 2016, where he starred alongside Alexander Skarsgard as a corrupt cop who finds himself in a tight spot. In the following year, the actor had voice roles in The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) and My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), besides a starring role in the action comedy buddy cop flick Chips (2017).

Among Pena`s most recent acting credits are the war drama 12 Strong (2018), the Netflix sci-fi horror film Extinction (2018) the superhero film Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), where he reprised his role of Luis, the loyal sidekick of Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man), The Mule (2019), Dora And The Lost City Of Gold (2019), Fantasy Island (2020) and action animation comedy Tom & Jerry (2021).
Peers & More
Jon Bernthal
Actor
Corey Stoll
Actor
Alexander Skarsgård
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Evangeline Lilly
Actor
Family
Brie Shaffer
Spouse
Popular Movies
View All
Extinction
Moonfall
Tom & Jerry
Fantasy Island
Dora And The Lost City Of Gold
The Mule
Ant-Man and the Wasp
A Wrinkle in Time
12 Strong
The Lego Ninjago Movie

Did You Know? (2)

  • Before becoming an actor, Michael Peña worked in a bank.
  • During his struggling days in Hollywood, Michael Peña also toured with a band as a drummer.
  • Personal Quotes (2)

  • "I'm just an actor. If it's drama, I add as much humor as the part will stand. And if it's a comedy, add as much drama as you can, so it balances out; you don't wanna be too serious."
  • "I think writing is the most underrated thing in Hollywood."
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