Michael Peña was born and raised in Chicago, to Nicolasa, a social worker, and Eleuterio Peña, who worked at a button factory. His parents were originally from Mexico. After graduating from high school, he went to an open casting call for the Peter Bogdanovich feature Учителю с любовью 2 (1996), and to his surprise, beat out hundreds of other young men for a role. After relocating to Los Angeles Peña quickly booked a succession of roles in features including Star Maps, Мои дорогие американцы (1996) (opposite Jack Lemmon and James Garner), La Cucaracha (1998) (winner of the Best Picture in the Austin Film Festival), Bellyfruit (1999), and the Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer feature Угнать за 60 секунд (2000). Michael resides in Los Angeles, where he plays bass guitar with his band, plays golf, and boxes for relaxation.