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Sean Penn

Araya Diaz/WireImage.com

Oscar winner Sean Penn assumed the role of real life hero Friday, aiding in the release of two American hikers who had been held captive in Iran since July 2009. Boy, this is going to drive the Penn haters at Fox News crazy!

According to Reuters, Penn actively took part, flying to Venezuela to ask president Hugo Chavez to intervene with Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, urging the hikers' release.

"Penn was very committed to the case...he flew to Caracas several months ago to raise it with Chavez and he kept on it," a source told Reuters. 

Both hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, 29-years-old, were released Wednesday on $1 million bail from a prison in Tehran.They insisted they got lost while hiking, but were convicted of espionage and originally sentenced to eight years in prison.

As for the close connection between the Milk actor and President Chavez? Penn has long been a Chavez backer, though many pundits in the U.S. have been hostile to the South American's increasingly autocratic rule. The actor and the politician have clearly bonded. Case in point: Back in January, Chavez lightheartedly recommended the actor be made the next U.S. ambassador to Venezuela.