Sean Patrick Astin (né Duke; born February 25, 1971) is an American actor, producer and director. In the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Sean Astin played Samwise Gamgee, the faithful companion of Frodo Baggins. Astin also portrayed Rudy Ruettiger, whose story of overcoming tremendous odds to play football for Notre Dame was chronicled in "Rudy." Competing in an Ironman was a challenge Astin had never sought. He had often watched the race on TV and marveled at what the athletes could do, but it wasn't on his to-do list, until McGillivray put it there for him.