He rose to fame as the star of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
His childhood friends included actors Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, whom he created short films with.
He won an Academy Award for Milk, and directed the film Into the Wild.
He married pop star and actress Madonna in 1985. Their relationship ended in 1989. He later married actress Robin Wright, but divorced her in 2010.
He dedicated his film The Crossing Guard to Charles Bukowski.
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