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Sean Astin

The former child star turned adult character actor opens up about his famous family, fatherhood and whether The Goonies will ever have a sequel.

Sean AstinSean Astin

When you hear the name Sean Astin, which of his roles spring to mind? The head of a motley crew of tweens in The Goonies? Aspiring college football hero Rudy? Frodo’s plump Hobbit compatriot in The Lord of the Rings? Patty Duke’s real-life son? Due to his long and eclectic career, how you know Astin best probably depends on your age. Now the actor and activist is set to make an impression on a new generation as the voice of the title character on the Disney Channel’s new animated series Special Agent Oso, debuting April 4 at 8am. As an adorably clumsy special-agent-in-training, Oso helps kids with everyday tasks such as mailing letters or cleaning their rooms. Astin chatted with Time Out Kids about his new project, as well as more personal issues like his famous mom’s much-publicized manic depression and his efforts to keep his own three kids grounded in Hollywood.

What attracted you to this new project?
Two things: the Disney Channel and the look of Oso. I felt like I looked like him.

Did your kids recognize your voice right away?
My 12-year-old did, but my [three-year-old] baby was hilarious. I said, “That’s Daddy,” and she looked at the screen then looked back at me like I was as dumb as a box of rocks and said, “That’s Oso, not Daddy.”

You’ve been acting since you were ten. Do you hope your kids will also go into the business?
For a long time I discouraged my oldest child, who had done some fun community theater stuff. Now she’s 12 and I feel a little bit more comfortable with her pursuing it if she wants to. Elizabeth, my six-year-old, just figured out what I do for a living. I was maybe three years older than she is when I figured out what my parents did. Right now she’s on a I-want-to-make-movies kick, which I think is hilarious, and if I can help her I will. We’ll just see how everything goes as they get older.

Your eldest daughter appeared in one of the Lord of the Rings movies, and you and your wife, Christine, have collaborated before. Are you planning any other family projects?
We got the rights to a book by Lois Lowry called Number the Stars, which was a Newbery winner in '90. It’s set in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943 and is about the friendship between two ten-year-old girls, one Jewish, one Lutheran. When [my wife and I] first started working on [adapating the book into a screenplay], my daughter and her best friend, who is Jewish, looked exactly like the characters, but they’ve since grown much too old to play the parts.

So you aspire to work on family projects?
I figure it's easier to raise money for family films. Obviously, being a family guy, it sort of fits with my values, my worldview and so forth. I also think the Newbery Medal-winning books are pretty special, and a lot of them are getting adapted into movies.

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