Back to Where Are They Now: The Cast of 'Footloose'
Chris Penn grew up in show business as the son of director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan and the brother of actor Sean Penn and singer Michael Penn. After appearing in small roles in such acclaimed films as 'Rumble Fish' and 'All the Right Moves,' the 17-year-old landed the plum role of 'Footloose's Willard, the farmboy who befriends Ren and becomes his first dance pupil. Penn followed 'Footloose' with a lead role in teen comedy 'The Wild Life,' but his burly physique made him a popular character actor in tough guy roles, notably, in 'Pale Rider' (opposite Clint Eastwood), 'At Close Range' (his only filim with brother Sean), 'Best of the Best' (where he made use of his black-belt karate skills), 'Reservoir Dogs,' 'True Romance,' 'Short Cuts' (in an ensemble cast that included 'Footloose' co-star Lori Singer), 'Mulholland Falls,' and 'Rush Hour.' His final film was 'The Darwin Awards,' which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival one day after Penn was found dead in his apartment. The 40-year-old had long struggled with drug use, obesity and heart disease, which was ruled the official cause of his death. In the 22 years since 'Footloose,' he'd scarcely gotten a chance to dance again, save in Jay-Z's 1998 video for 'Can I Get a...', in which he played a dancing bartender.