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The Lovable 'Sam'

CAROUSEL - President Obama visits a technical shop class, before speaking about the economy, Sept. 21, 2009, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Sean Astin always wanted to go into the family business.

His mother is Patty Duke, the television teen sensation and current Broadway star, and his father is John Astin, best known as Gomez on the television series "The Addam's Family." So it really didn't surprise anyone when young Sean turned into a talented actor.

Some may recognize Astin from his young teen-age days as a member of the "Goonies" or the under-sized young man who wanted to play football for Notre Dame in "Rudy."

Now, he plays another small character with a huge heart. Astin visited The Early Show to discuss the success of his currently released film, "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," in which he plays Samwise Gamgee, Frodo's hobbit companion.

"The Two Towers" already has passed the total gross of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," which came out a month earlier and has grossed $252 million. And "Two Towers" is on track to pass the $310 million gross of "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" to become last year's second-biggest hit after "Spider-Man," which took in $406 million. It also will pass the $313 million total of its predecessor, 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

Astin says he feels his role in "The Two Towers" takes on a greater importance than in the J. R. R. Tolkien novels. He says Sam helps Frodo fight the temptation of power of the ring that Frodo is entrusted to carry. Sam keeps his hobbit friend grounded and on track.

Astin says he feels Sam represents the qualities of loyalty and trust. He is an everyman the audience can identify with.

Sam always calls Frodo, Mr. Frodo. Astin says he believes Tolkien's duty in World War I had a tremendous influence in his mythology. At the time, the military officers had underlings whose job it was to assist them. He says Tolkien believed that it was a common and an honorable relationship to serve someone, as Sam serves Frodo. So while Sam is subservient, he is happy to do it, and it makes him a better hobbit to be part of something great, such as Frodo's quest.

Astin is also an accomplished movie director. In 1995, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short, for "Kangaroo Court," which he directed and co-produced with his wife, Christine.

Some Facts About Sean Astin

  • Sean Astin was born on Feb. 25, 1971, in Santa Monica, Calif.
  • His parents are actors Patty Duke and John Astin
  • In 1981, at age 9, Sean starred with his mother in the after-school special, "Please Don't Hit Me Mom"
  • In 1985, he starred in the children adventure movie, "The Goonies"
  • Astin was nominated for a Academy Award for Best Short Film category at the 67th Annual Academy Awards in 1995