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Michael Peña
Michael Peña TIFF 2015.jpg
Peña at the premiere of The Martian at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival
Michael Anthony Peña

(1976-01-13) January 13, 1976 (age 48)
  • Actor
  • musician
Years active 1995–present
Brie Shaffer
(m. 2006)
Children 1

Michael Anthony Peña (/ˈpnjə/; Spanish: [ˈpeɲa]; born January 13, 1976) 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), Gangster Squad (2013), American Hustle (2013), Fury (2014), Frontera (2014), The Martian (2015), Collateral Beauty (2016), CHiPs (2017), My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Ant-Man (2015) and its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), A Wrinkle in Time (2018), 12 Strong (2018), Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019), Fantasy Island (2020), Tom & Jerry (2021) and Moonfall (2022). Peña had the title role in Cesar Chavez (2014) and played DEA agent Kiki Camarena in season one of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico (2018).

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

Early life

Peña was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Nicolasa, a social worker, and Eleuterio Peña, a factory worker. 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. 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. 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 Oscar-nominated films.

Michael Peña Labor Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Auditorium
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.

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

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"). In 2020, Peña took a turn as the mysterious and enigmatic Mr. Roarke in the critically panned prequel Fantasy Island (Film)


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

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 Jan. 12, 2022.

Personal life

Peña has been a member of Scientology since 2000.

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



1998 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 Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Luis Post-production


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
1998 Sentinel, TheThe Sentinel Johnny Episode: "Night Shift"
Credited as Michael A. Pena
1998 7th Heaven Roger Episode: "Let's ..."
Credited as Michael A. Pena
1999 Tracey Takes On... Busboy Episode: "Scandal"
1999 Moesha Alejandro Episode: "Life Imitating Art"
1999 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
2001 Men, Women & Dogs Miguel 2 episodes
2002 American Family 2 episodes
2002 Andy Richter Controls the Universe Patrick Episode: "Wedding"
2003 The Twilight Zone Noah Episode: "Sunrise"
Credited as Michael A. Peña
2003 ER Police Officer 3 episodes
1997, 2004 NYPD Blue Ferd
Wilmer Lopez
2 episodes
2005 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Juanito Concha Episode: "Snakes"
2005 Shield, TheThe 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
2014 Gracepoint Mark Solano 10 episodes
2018 Narcos: Mexico Kiki Camarena Main cast; 10 episodes (Season 1)

Video game

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

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Michael Peña para niños

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Influential African-American Artists:
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