Chris Penn was a highly-rated character actor who developed a tough guy image through roles in two Quentin Tarantino films.
Chris Penn gave an "extraordinary performance" in Reservoir Dogs
The younger brother of acclaimed actor Sean Penn, he had built up a solid body of work since his debut in the 1983 gang movie Rumble Fish.
Born in the early 1960s in California, he was the son of television director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan.
He began studying acting at age 12 at California's Loft Studio.
After Rumble Fish, Penn played the hero's best friend in 1984 hit dance movie Footloose and went on to secure further supporting roles during the 1980s.
It was, however, his roles in two Quentin Tarantino films that brought him to public prominence and cemented his image as a movie tough guy.
He delivered what The Washington Post called an "extraordinary performance" as gangster Nice Guy Eddie in Tarantino's 1992 cult drama Reservoir Dogs and followed this up with a role as a drugs officer in True Romance in 1993, which was written by Tarantino.
His success continued during the 1990s with roles in films such as the Robert Altman film Short Cuts and The Funeral, for which he won a best supporting actor award at the 1996 Venice International Film Festival.
He also provided the voice of Officer Eddie Pulaski for 2004's best-selling video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
He was scheduled to attend the premiere of his latest film, The Darwin Awards, on Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in which he appears with actors Winona Ryder, Joseph Fiennes and David Arquette.