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Sean Penn and Fidel Castro? The actor's top 5 forays into journalism.

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5) Iran. In 2005, Penn traveled to Iran to cover that country's elections for the San Francisco Chronicle. The result: A five-day series. Here's a sample:

Back at the hotel, I went for coffee and scrambled eggs at the downstairs buffet. A canned, Muzak version of "I Will Always Love You" plays. The scene downstairs reminded me of similar scenes in Iraq, at Baghdad's Al Rashid and Palestine hotels. International journalists with that "What the [bleep] are you doing here, Mr. Penn?" look on their faces.

4) Iraq. In 2004, Penn reported for the San Francisco Chronicle that the occupation by US forces there "could ignite a powder keg." This came a little more than one year after he used an ad in the Washington Post to ask former President George W. Bush not to go to war in Iraq. "I beg you, help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror," Penn wrote in an open letter to Bush.

3) Cuba. Weeks before President Obama was elected last year, Penn had dinner and drinks with Cuban President Raúl Castro during a seven-hour conversation in Havana. Mr. Castro told Penn he'd be open to meeting with Mr. Obama, if he won the election. Penn wrote the visit up for The Nation, a liberal news magazine.

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