Michael Peña

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Michael Peña
Michael Peña TIFF 2015.jpg
Peña at the premiere of The Martian at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival
Michael Anthony Peña

(1976-01-13) January 13, 1976 (age 47)
EducationMarist High School Hubbard High School
  • Actor
  • musician
Years active1994–present
Brie Shaffer (m. 2006)

Michael Anthony Peña (/ˈpɛnjə/; Spanish: [ˈpeɲa]; born January 13, 1976) is an American character actor. He has starred in many films, including Crash (2004), World Trade Center (2006), Shooter (2007), Observe and Report (2009), Tower Heist (2011), Battle: Los Angeles (2011), End of Watch (2012), Gangster Squad (2013), American Hustle (2013), Fury (2014), Frontera (2014), The Martian (2015), Collateral Beauty (2016), CHiPs (2017), My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Ant-Man (2015) and its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), A Wrinkle in Time (2018), 12 Strong (2018) and Fantasy Island (2020). Peña had the title role in Cesar Chavez (2014) and played the co-lead role in the first season of the Netflix TV series Narcos: Mexico (2018). He was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his performance in End of Watch.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Peña was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Nicolasa, a social worker, and Eleuterio Peña, a factory worker.[1][2] Peña's parents were originally farmers, and emigrated from Mexico; his father was from Villa Purificación, Jalisco, and his mother was from Charcas, San Luis Potosí.[3][4][5] He grew up in the North Lawndale area and attended Marist High School.[6]

Career[edit | edit source]

Film[edit | edit source]

Though Peña has been a regular in independent productions since 1994, his breakthrough performances came in two Best Picture Oscar-winning Paul Haggis-penned films, Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Crash (2004). The former was directed by Clint Eastwood, and the latter was directed by Haggis. Though both films are critically acclaimed, Peña received attention for his particularly emotional performance in Crash. The following year, he appeared on the Golden Globe-winning series The Shield. In 2006, he starred in Oliver Stone's film based on the September 11, 2001 attacks, World Trade Center. He also had a small role in Alejandro González Iñárritu's film Babel. This gives him the rare distinction of having appeared in three consecutive Oscar-nominated films.

Peña as the Master of Ceremonies for the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial in 2012

In 2006, Peña starred in the HBO film Walkout as Sal Castro, a Mexican-American high school teacher who inspires a group of East L.A. high school students to fight for Chicano rights.

He starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in Shooter (2007) as novice FBI agent Nick Memphis. In 2009, he played a mall security guard alongside Seth Rogen in Jody Hill's Observe and Report.[7]

In 2012, he co-starred with Jake Gyllenhaal as a Los Angeles police officer, in End of Watch. The same year, he began filming César Chávez, a biopic about the life of American labor leader César Chávez, who founded the United Farm Workers. Peña stars as Chávez.[8] He appeared alongside Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, and Jon Bernthal in the World War II-set action film Fury (2014),[9] and portrayed Luis in Ant-Man (2015).[10]

In 2015, Peña was a principal-player of the ensemble-cast for his role on board the Aries-III space-craft to Mars, in the award-winning Ridley Scott sci-film The Martian. Peña starred in 12 Strong along Chris Hemsworth. He also starred in the 2018 remake of A Wrinkle in Time, where he played the main antagonist, The IT, in his human form name, Red.[11]

Television[edit | edit source]

In December 2017, it was reported that Peña had joined the cast of Narcos for its upcoming fourth season.[12] It was later revealed that the fourth season would be a new series, Narcos: Mexico, with Peña starring as DEA agent Kiki Camarena.[13]

Voice acting[edit | edit source]

Peña voiced the character Ricky in the FX animated comedy Chozen. In Turbo, he voiced Tito, and in My Little Pony: The Movie, he voiced Grubber. He also provided vocals for the character Marguerite (in the episode 'Hot Water') for the popular animated series American Dad.

Music[edit | edit source]

In 2005, Peña formed the Los Angeles rock band Nico Vega, named after his mother, Nicolasa. He left the band in 2007 to concentrate on his acting career, but co-wrote the track "Beast", which reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs Chart.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Peña has been a member of Scientology since 2000.[14]

In 2006, he married Brie Shaffer. He has one son, named Roman, born in 2008.[15]

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Film[edit | edit source]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 My Fellow Americans Ernesto
1997 Star Maps Star Map Boy
1998 Boogie Boy Drug Dealer
1998 La Cucaracha Orderly
1999 Bellyfruit Oscar
2000 Gone in 60 Seconds Ignacio Credited as Michael A. Peña
2001 Buffalo Soldiers Garcia
2003 The United States of Leland Guillermo
Love Object Ramirez
2004 The Calcium Kid Jose Mendez
Crash Daniel ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Million Dollar Baby Omar
2005 Little Athens Carlos
Sueño Jimmy
2006 Fifty Pills Eduardo
Babel John - Border Patrol
World Trade Center Will Jimeno Nominated – ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor - Motion Picture
2007 Shooter Nick Memphis
Lions for Lambs Ernest
2008 The Lucky Ones T.K. Poole
2009 Observe and Report Dennis
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? Detective Vargas
2010 Everything Must Go Frank Garcia
2011 Battle: Los Angeles Joe Rincon Nominated – ALMA Award for Favorite Movie Actor
The Lincoln Lawyer Jesus Martinez
The Good Doctor Jimmy
30 Minutes or Less Chango
Tower Heist Enrique Dev'reaux
2012 End of Watch Officer Zavala Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Latino Actor
2013 Gangster Squad Navidad Ramirez
Turbo Tito Lopez (voice)
American Hustle Paco Hernandez/Sheik Abdullah New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Ensemble
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
2014 Cesar Chavez César Chávez ALMA Award for Special Achievement in Film
Imagen Award for Best Actor in Feature Film
Frontera Miguel
Fury Trini 'Gordo' Garcia
2015 Ant-Man Luis
The Vatican Tapes Father Lozano
Vacation New Mexico Cop
The Martian Major Rick Martinez
Hell and Back Abigor (voice)
2016 War on Everyone Bob Bolano
Collateral Beauty Simon Stone
2017 CHiPs Frank "Ponch" Poncherello / FBI Agent Castillo Also executive producer
The Lego Ninjago Movie Kai (voice)
My Little Pony: The Movie Grubber (voice)
Zane's Stand Up Promo Kai (voice) Short film
2018 12 Strong Sergeant First Class Sam Diller
A Wrinkle in Time Red
Ant-Man and the Wasp Luis
Extinction Peter
Next Gen Momo (voice)
The Mule Trevino
2019 Dora and the Lost City of Gold Cole Marquez
Jexi Kai
2020 Fantasy Island Mr. Roarke
2021 Tom & Jerry Terrance Post-production

Television[edit | edit source]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Pacific Blue Rabbit Episode: "Bangers"
1997 Touched by an Angel Reynaldo Estes Episode: "At Risk"
1998 Homicide: Life on the Street Luis Carrenza 2 episodes
Credited as Michael Anthony Pena
1998 The Sentinel Johnny Episode: "Night Shift"
Credited as Michael A. Pena
1998 7th Heaven Roger Episode: "Let's Talk About Sex"
Credited as Michael A. Pena
1999 Tracey Takes On... Busboy Episode: "Scandal"
1999 Moesha Alejandro Episode: "Life Imitating Art"
1999 Profiler Alex Lopez Episode: "Spree of Love"
Credited as Michael Anthony Peña
1999–2000 Felicity Brian Burke 5 episodes
2000 The District Sante Episode: "The Real Terrorist"
2001 Roswell Fly 2 episodes
2001 Men, Women & Dogs Miguel 2 episodes
2002 American Family 2 episodes
2002 Andy Richter Controls the Universe Patrick Episode: "Wedding"
2003 The Twilight Zone Noah Episode: "Sunrise"
Credited as Michael A. Peña
2003 ER Police Officer 3 episodes
1997, 2004 NYPD Blue Ferd
Wilmer Lopez
2 episodes
2005 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Juanito Concha Episode: "Snakes"
2005 The Shield Detective Armando Renta 10 episodes
2006 Walkout Sal Castro Television film
Black Reel Award for Network/Cable - Best Supporting Actor
Imagen Award for Best Actor - Television
Nominated – ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie
2008 My Name Is Earl Circus Episode: "No Heads and a Duffle Bag"
2010 Eastbound & Down Sebastián Cisneros 5 episodes
2011, 2013 American Dad! Marguerite (voice) 2 episodes
2014 Chozen Ricky (voice) 10 episodes
2014 Gracepoint Mark Solano 10 episodes
2018 Narcos: Mexico Kiki Camarena Main cast; 10 episodes (Season 1)

Video game[edit | edit source]

Year Title Role Notes
2016 Lego Marvel's Avengers Luis Ant-Man downloadable pack

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Rusoff, Jane Wollman (2005-05-07). "Michael Pena stands out in 'Crash'". Tribune. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  2. "Michael Peña: "Nunca pensé en hacer telenovelas"". People. 2013-01-14. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  3. "MIKE PEÑA, nació en Chicago de padres mexicanos. Su madre, de Charcas". 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  4. Pearlman, Cindy. "Michael Peña has luck on his side". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 26, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  5. Daunt, Tina (2006-10-01). "He's all about survivor roles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
  6. "Chicago native Michael Pena talks End of Watch". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  7. Leydon, Joe (2009-03-18). "Observe and Report". Variety. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  8. McNary, Dave. "Participant Marches With 'Chavez'." Variety. June 5, 2012.
  9. The Hollywood Reporter (May 14, 2013). "Michael Pena Boards David Ayer's Fury". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  10. Dread Central (May 14, 2013). "The First Trailer for Marvel's "Ant-Man" Is Here". Dread Central. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  11. Stefansky, Emma (November 3, 2016). "'A Wrinkle in Time' Casts Michael Peña as Mysterious Character 'Red'". Screen Crush. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  12. Otterson, Joe (2017-12-19). "'Narcos' Season 4 to Star Michael Peña, Diego Luna". Variety. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
  13. "Netflix Releases First Look at Reset 'Narcos: Mexico'". The Hollywood Reporter. July 18, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  14. Leigh, Danny (October 6, 2016). "Michael Peña: 'Scientology made me a better actor'" – via www.theguardian.com.
  15. "Michael Peña on How Fatherhood Shaped His Approach to 'Narcos: Mexico'". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2019-08-26.

External links[edit | edit source]

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