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The Inertia

Few Hollywood efforts have ever sat well with the real surf world. To anybody who’s never spent an entire morning fussing with another grown human over who was closest to the peak and who backpaddled who, all surfers are Jeff Spicoli. But to those who actually surf, the typical dude next to them in the lineup is in fact, nothing like the Fast Times legend. But that’s also the beauty of the character Sean Penn created three decades ago: the guy is so over the top that he just couldn’t be real, right?

Penn himself has long admitted that Jeff Spicoli was based on an actual living, breathing human he knew as a teenager in Malibu. Funny enough and true to character, he’s also pretty sure the real-life version of Spicoli has no idea he inspired an icon that resonated with actual surfers and Hollywood alike.

“Part of that may have to do with him not knowing where he was,” Penn says.

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Well, decades later, Sean Penn says he just ran into the real-life Jeff Spicoli while surfing in Malibu recently and it’s a pretty amusing tale.

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