• NYS Writers Institute

Actor, author, storyteller Sean Penn, and a book contest for you.

Updated: Mar 22


Sean Penn is a two-time Academy Award winner, for “Mystic River” in 2003 and his portrayal of UAlbany alum Harvey Milk in “Milk” (2008). He has appeared in more than 50 films, including an Oscar-nominated starring role in “Dead Man Walking” based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean

(Note: Our Visiting Writer event with Sister Helen scheduled for March 23 has been postponed. We hope to reschedule her for a Fall 2020 appearance.)

An outspoken advocate for social and humanitarian causes, Penn assisted with rescue and recovery efforts in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and founded a non-profit organization in response to the major earthquake in Haiti in 2010.


More recently, Penn ventured into writing and published his first book, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff (2018), the tale of an “odd job man” who kills off the weak and the sick as part of a secret contract with the government.

In September of 2018, Sean Penn packed the house at Page Hall when he visited the NYS Writers Institute at UAlbany to discuss his debut novel, filmmaking, and politics.


[Side note: Writers Institute intern and UAlbany journalism major Sabrina Flores took photos of the event that were published on the front page of the Albany Times Union the next day. It was her paid freelancer photographer assignment.]


As writers do at Writers Institute events, Sean Penn took questions from the audience. No surprise, he fielded one about his iconic role as Jeff Spicoli, the pot smoking surfer in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982).

His answer filled us in on the surprising news of what the real Spicoli has been up to all this years:


Contest: Post a comment below and we’ll enter you in a contest to win one of three Sean Penn-signed copies of Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.


Here's the question: Tell us about your favorite book written by an actor/celebrity.

All eligible entries (those with an email) will be entered in a random drawing. Winners will be contacted and the books sent via U.S. Mail next week. No purchase necessary. :-)

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NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

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Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-5620

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