Michael Peña has distinguished himself in Hollywood as an actor with a wide range of performances who has worked with an impressive roster of award-winning directors. Peña earned notable recognition for his performance in Paul Haggis' provocative Oscar® winning film Crash, alongside Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon and Terrence Howard. Critically-acclaimed for the film's interpretation of complex race relations in contemporary America, Peña has garnered multiple best ensemble nominations for his role as "Daniel the Locksmith" winning awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the Broadcast Film Critics Association for the cast’s performance.
In September 2012, Peña was seen in the critically-acclaimed End of Watch which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. The film is about two young officers in South Central LA who are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel, during a routine traffic stop. For his role as "Officer Zavala" he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and the film was recognized by the National Board of Review as one of the Top 10 Independent Films of the year.
In March of 2014 Peña can be seen as civil right and labor organizer Cesar Chavez in Chavez. The film is directed by Diego Luna and produced by Canana and Mr. Mudd. He has currently re-teamed with director David Ayer for the Sony feature Fury starring opposite Brad Pitt.
Peña has been seen in a range of films in the past year, including the independent film Everything Must Go alongside Will Ferrell and Rebecca Hall; Gangster Squad opposite Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling and in the FOX animated feature Turbo.
Peña's film credits include The Lucky Ones, co-starring Rachel McAdams and Tim Robbins; Jody Hill's comedy Observe and Report with Seth Rogen; Robert Redford's political drama Lions for Lambs, along with Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep; and Werner Herzog and David Lynch's psychological thriller My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done with Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe and Chloe Sevigny.
Peña's other noteworthy credits consist of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, which chronicled the heroism of American servicemen in the direct aftermath of the September 11th attacks; Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby; Matthew Ryan Hoge's The United States of Leland; Gregor Jordan's Buffalo Soldiers; Antoine Fuqua’s Shooter; Brett Ratner's Tower Heist and Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel.
On television, Peña also starred in the HBO film Walkout. Based on the true story of a young Mexican American high school teacher who helped stage a massive student walkout in the mid 1960s, Peña received an Imagen Award for Best Actor in the television category for his performance. He recently re-teamed with Danny McBride on HBO's Eastbound & Down and also appeared on the FX drama The Shield for its fourth season as one of the central leads opposite Glenn Close and Anthony Anderson. Other television credits include Steven Spielberg's NBC series Semper Fi.
Raised in Chicago, Peña began acting when he beat out hundreds of others in an open call for a role in Peter Bogdonovich's To Sir, With Love 2, starring Sidney Poitier.