Tim Robbins (with Morgan Freeman, left) in the 1994 film, "The Shawshank Redemption."
For the Oscar-winning star of "Mystic River" and "Bull Durham," and the director of such films as "Bob Roberts" and "Dead Man Walking," Tim Robbins has shown an emotionally-gripping honesty in his performances, and a desire throughout his work to pursue challenging subject matter.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
Robbins' political activism was something he learned from his parents. "They were very committed socially," he told CBS News' Serena Altschul. "and made sure their children knew what was going on in the world."
Tim's father, Gil Robbins, played folk music with The Highwaymen in the '60s -- and later, turned down a big job as a record company executive, to keep playing his music.
"Many years later, we were talking about it, and he said, 'You know, maybe I should have done that job,'" Robbins recalled. "And I said, 'Dad, if you'd done that job, I would not have the vocabulary to make the choices that I've made in my life. You taught me about artistic integrity. You taught me about courage. 'Pursue your dream. Pursue what's important to your heart.' "
Robbins guest-starred in several TV series in the 1980s, including "St. Elsewhere," "Hardcastle and McCormick," "Hill Street Blues," "The Love Boat" and "Amazing Stories," and appeared in the feature films "Toy Soldiers," "No Small Affair," "The Sure Thing," and "Top Gun."
In "Bull Durham" (1988), Tim Robbins playing talented, loopy "Nuke" LaLoosh, who learns some of pitching's finer points from Annie Savoy (played by Susan Sarandon).
"It was a blast," Robbins said of the film. "I met Susan, had kids with her and it was a great, great experience. And it changed my life in a professional way, too ... made me a viable candidate for being a lead in a movie."
Tim Robbins played a Vietnam veteran haunted by bizarre supernatural visions in the psychological horror film, "Jacob's Ladder" (1990), directed by Adrian Lyne.
In Robert Altman's 1992 satire, "The Player," based on Michael Tolkin's novel, Tim Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a cravenly ambitious studio executive who finds himself stalked by a screenwriter whose work he rejected.
"Bob Roberts" (1992), written and directed by and starring Tim Robbins, was a "mockumentary" about a right-wing conservative politician's run for the U.S. Senate.
The film was inspired by a "Saturday Night Live" skit Robbins performed in 1986. For the film he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor-Comedy/Musical.
Tim Robbins reteamed with director Robert Altman for the 1993 omnibus "Short Cuts," based on short stories by Raymond Carver. Robbins (left, with Madeleine Stowe) appeared as a cop whose brutality and venality is dramatized, in one instance, by his abandonment of the family dog.
Tim Robbins is a lower-tier employee who is miraculously promoted - becoming a pawn in a corporate shakeup - in the Coen brothers comedy, "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994), co-starring Paul Newman.
In "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), based on a story by Stephen King, Tim Robbins starred as Andy Dufresne, a man unjustly imprisoned for murder, whose friendship with fellow inmate "Red" (Morgan Freeman) proves key to both men surviving the prison's terrible conditions.
"I spent some time in solitary, to prepare for 'Shawshank,' " Robbins said. "I asked to be locked up. It gives you a good idea of what the isolation is, and what the loneliness of it is."
Nominated for 7 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), "Shawshank" is one of the most beloved and critically-praised films of all time.
Tim Robbins and Julia Roberts appeared in Robert Altman's "Pret-a-Porter (a.k.a. Ready-to-Wear)," (1994), a cameo-stuffed satire of Paris Fashion Week.
Tim Robbins wrote and directed the 1995 film, "Dead Man Walking." Based on a true story, it starred Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn as a nun and a convicted murderer on Death Row.
Sarandon won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Sister Helen Prejean (on whose book the film was based). Robbins later returned to the material for a stage adaptation, available to high schools and colleges around the country.
"It's not necessarily about convincing people that the death penalty is bad," said Robbins. "It's about, let's talk about it. This is a serious issue. If we're going to be putting people to death, let's really talk about it. And then an informed, young population can make its own mind up about it. But let's give them the tools."
In the 1997 comedy "Nothing to Lose," Tim Robbins played an ad exec who turns the tables on a carjacker (Martin Lawrence) and embarks upon a revenge plot against his boss.
Tim Robbins wrote and directed "Cradle Will Rock" (1999), a fictionalized account of Orson Welles' legendary performance of Marc Blitzstein's musical, a WPA project which in 1937 was blocked from production (ostensibly because of its "radical" content), forcing actors to perform their roles from the audience.
Tim Robbins and Marcia Gay Harden in "Mystic River" (2003). Based on Dennis Lehane's novel, the film told of a man (Robbins) haunted by abuse as a child, who becomes a suspect in a murder investigation.
Sean Penn won an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Tim Robbins won for Best Supporting Actor, as childhood friends in the murder mystery, "Mystic River" (2003), directed by Clint Eastwood.
Tim Robbins co-starred with Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning in Steven Spielberg's sci-fi flick, "War of the Worlds" (2005).
In "The Secret Life of Words" (2005), Sarah Polley played a nurse for an oil worker suffering from severe burns (Tim Robbins).
Actor Tim Robbins speaks at a labor rally supporting the Writers Guild strike in New York's Washington Square Park, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007.
Actress Susan Sarandon and actor/director Tim Robbins attend the premiere of "The Education of Charlie Banks," at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival on April 27, 2007, in New York.
Robbins and Sarandon had two children together before ending their domestic relationship in 2009.
Actors Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan are shown at "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief," on Friday, Jan. 22, 2010, in Los Angeles.
Actor Tim Robbins takes the ice for the Boston Bruins Legends Classic hockey game on the outdoor rink at Fenway Park in Boston, Saturday Jan. 2, 2010.
As part of a program created by The Actors' Gang (a theatre company he co-founded), Tim Robbins teaches acting to prison inmates at a medium security prison in Norco, Calif.
"It creates this place, particularly important in prison, where people can step outside of what's expected of them and try to explore new emotions, create new realities, create new truths for themselves," Robbins said. "It can get very physical and frantic. The core rule is you can't use the other actor - meaning you can't touch the other actor in any way. Respect is the first rule.
"What it does is create a safe zone for the person that is opening themselves up emotionally to this experience."
"It creates this place, particularly important in prison, where people can step outside of what's expected of them and try to explore new emotions, create new realities, create new truths for themselves," Tim Robbins said of the inmates' acting classes.
In a state where more than 60 percent of inmates return to prison after they get out, Robbins said, "No one that has gone through the program has come back to prison that we're aware of."