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Michael Peña

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Michael Peña
Peña at the premiere of The Martian at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival
Born (1976-01-13) January 13, 1976 (age 48)
Years active1994–present
Brie Shaffer
(m. 2006)

Michael Peña (/ˈpnjə/; Spanish: [ˈpeɲa]; born January 13, 1976)[1] is an American 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), and Gangster Squad (2013). He has also acted in films such as American Hustle (2013), The Martian (2015), Ant-Man (2015) and its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), and Extinction (2018). Peña had the title role in Cesar Chavez (2014), played DEA agent Kiki Camarena in season one of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico (2018), and CIA agent Domingo Chavez in season 4 of the Prime Video series Jack Ryan (2023).

He was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his performance in End of Watch.

Early life


Peña was born on January 13, 1976, in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Nicolasa, a social worker, and Eleuterio Peña, a factory worker.[2][3] 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.[4][5][6] He grew up in the North Lawndale area and attended Marist High School, and graduated from Hubbard High School where he participated and was a state qualifier in wrestling and track.[7] He attended St. Nicholas of Tolentine Elementary.





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. 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 films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

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.[8]

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.[9] He appeared alongside Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, and Jon Bernthal in the World War II-set action film Fury (2014),[10] and portrayed Luis in Ant-Man (2015).[11]

In 2015, Peña was a principal player of the ensemble cast for his role on board the Ares-III space-craft to Mars, in the award-winning Ridley Scott sci-film The Martian. Peña starred in 12 Strong alongside 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 (known as "Red").[12] In 2020, Peña took a turn as the mysterious and enigmatic Mr. Roarke in the critically panned prequel Fantasy Island.[13]



In December 2017, it was reported that Peña had joined the cast of Narcos for its upcoming fourth season.[14] It was later revealed that the fourth season would be a new series, Narcos: Mexico, with Peña starring as DEA agent Kiki Camarena.[15]

Voice acting


Peña voiced the character Ricky in the FX animated comedy Chozen. In Turbo, he voiced Tito. He also provided vocals for the character Marguerite (in the episode "Hot Water") for the popular animated series American Dad!.



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. Peña starred in a video created for Midlake's track "Bethel Woods", which premiered January 12, 2022. He returned with Nico Vega in December 2023.

Personal life


Peña has been a member of Scientology since 2000.[16]

In 2006, he married Brie Shaffer. They have one son, named Roman, born in 2008.[17]




Year Title Role Notes
1996 My Fellow Americans Ernesto
1997 Star Maps Star Map Boy
1998 Boogie Boy Drug Dealer
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. Julian Roarke
2021 Tom & Jerry Terrance Mendoza
2022 Moonfall Tom Lopez
Secret Headquarters Ansel Argon
2023 A Million Miles Away José M. Hernández
2024 Unstoppable Post-production[18]
2025 Levon's Trade Filming
TBA Good Luck, Have Fun, Don't Die TBA Filming


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
The Sentinel Johnny Episode: "Night Shift"
Credited as Michael A. Pena
7th Heaven Roger Episode: "Let's Talk About Sex"
Credited as Michael A. Pena
1999 Tracey Takes On... Busboy Episode: "Scandal"
Moesha Alejandro Episode: "Life Imitating Art"
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
Men, Women & Dogs Miguel 2 episodes
2002 American Family 2 episodes
Andy Richter Controls the Universe Patrick Episode: "Wedding"
2003 The Twilight Zone Noah Episode: "Sunrise"
Credited as Michael A. Peña
ER Police Officer 3 episodes
1997, 2004 NYPD Blue Ferd
Wilmer Lopez
2 episodes
2005 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Juanito Concha Episode: "Snakes"
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
Gracepoint Mark Solano 10 episodes
2018 Narcos: Mexico Kiki Camarena Main cast; 10 episodes (Season 1)
2023 Jack Ryan Domingo "Ding" Chavez Main cast (Season 4)[19]

Video game

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


  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021". United Press International. January 13, 2021. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021. …actor Michael Pena in 1976 (age 45)…
  2. ^ Rusoff, Jane Wollman (May 7, 2005). "Michael Pena stands out in 'Crash'". Tribune. Archived from the original on May 19, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "Michael Peña: "Nunca pensé en hacer telenovelas"". People. January 14, 2013. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "MIKE PEÑA, nació en Chicago de padres mexicanos. Su madre, de Charcas". November 18, 2007. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  5. ^ Pearlman, Cindy. "Michael Peña has luck on his side". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 26, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  6. ^ Daunt, Tina (October 1, 2006). "He's all about survivor roles". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  7. ^ "Chicago native Michael Pena talks End of Watch". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  8. ^ Leydon, Joe (March 18, 2009). "Observe and Report". Variety. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  9. ^ McNary, Dave. "Participant Marches With 'Chavez'." Variety. June 5, 2012.
  10. ^ The Hollywood Reporter (May 14, 2013). "Michael Pena Boards David Ayer's Fury". ComingSoon.net. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  11. ^ Dread Central (May 14, 2013). "The First Trailer for Marvel's "Ant-Man" Is Here". Dread Central. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
  12. ^ Stefansky, Emma (November 3, 2016). "'A Wrinkle in Time' Casts Michael Peña as Mysterious Character 'Red'". Screen Crush. Archived from the original on March 19, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  13. ^ "Fantasy Island movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger Ebert". Archived from the original on February 15, 2020. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  14. ^ Otterson, Joe (December 19, 2017). "'Narcos' Season 4 to Star Michael Peña, Diego Luna". Variety. Archived from the original on July 18, 2020. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  15. ^ "Netflix Releases First Look at Reset 'Narcos: Mexico'". The Hollywood Reporter. July 18, 2018. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
  16. ^ Leigh, Danny (October 6, 2016). "Michael Peña: 'Scientology made me a better actor'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 8, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  17. ^ "Michael Peña on How Fatherhood Shaped His Approach to 'Narcos: Mexico'". Entertainment Tonight. November 17, 2018. Archived from the original on December 3, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  18. ^ Jennifer Lopez & Jharrel Jerome Pic 'Unstoppable' From Artists Equity Returns To Filming Next Week; Don Cheadle, Michael Peña & Bobby Cannavale Join Cast As Amazon MGM Boards
  19. ^ Petski, Denise (October 14, 2021). "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Renewed For Season 4; Michael Peña Joins Cast of Amazon Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 24, 2022. Retrieved December 14, 2021.