Movie Talk

Aloha, Mr. Hand! Sean Penn still looks Spicoli-ish at 52

Photo: Everett Collection/Splash News
Hey Bud, let's party!

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High," the classic high school comedy from director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe, turns 30 this year. But it might as well have been released a mere half a decade ago for all that star Sean Penn has appeared to age.

Penn skyrocketed to stardom for his unforgettable portrayal of Jeff Spicoli, an endlessly quotable teenage slacker who's often credited as the first "surfer stoner" to appear on film (as opposed to just "regular" stoners like Cheech and Chong, Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack" and Dennis Hopper in, well, just about anything). The good-natured Shakespearean fool of Ridgemont High, Spicoli often clashes with his history teacher, Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), as he looks to live a life consisting of little more than "tasty waves and a cool buzz" -- though a surfing trip to Hawaii would be pretty awesome, too.

30 years later, Spicoli appears to have made it to the Aloha State, as Sean Penn was recently spotted walking the beaches of Maui wearing nothing but a pair of blue swim trunks. After losing a ton of weight to play San Francisco politician Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's "Milk," Penn now looks to be in better shape than he's ever been in his life, though his ripped physique doesn't appear to be for any upcoming film role -- apparently, the single life just agrees with this dude, as he's done some deep soul searching since his 2010 divorce from Robin Wright:

"When you get divorced, all the truths that come out, you sit there and you go, 'What the f**k was I doing? What was I doing believing that this person was invested in this way?' Which is a fantastically strong humiliation in the best sense," he said in an interview with Esquire. "It can make somebody very bitter and very hard and closed off, but I find it does the opposite to me."

The once and always Spicoli has certainly been keeping busy with both his much-publicized political activism and, of course, his film career. He recently returned from Bolivia, where he successfully convinced President Evo Morales to release a jailed American businessman Jacob Ostreicher. And he's already receiving raves for his turn as temperamental mobster Mickey Cohen in "Gangster Squad," opening January 11.

Penn also has two directing gigs lined up: "Crazy For the Storm," a survival drama starring his "Gangster Squad" pal Josh Brolin, and "The Comedian," a dark comedy featuring his "We're No Angels" (remember that one?) co-star Robert De Niro and Kristen Wiig.

See Sean Penn in this trailer for 'Gangster Squad':