Screen hunk Sean Penn has quit alcohol but still finds it hard to conquer his shyness without it.

The MYSTIC RIVER star, 44, admits that even after therapy he continues to struggle in social situations, because he's banned from turning to alcohol to mask his desperate shyness.

He says, "I still can't go into a crowd sober. You know that saying, 'You are always loneliest in a crowd?' Well, I would call a crowd anything but my six closest surfing buddies, my family.

"I think I've learnt how to carry on a short time as though I'm not shy, based on remembering how I behave when I've got a lot of alcohol in me. But it's never been comfortable."

06/04/2005 17:32