Charlie Sheen after the meltdown
LOS ANGELES—Charlie Sheen had just sat down for a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel when a siren, probably from a police car, started wailing outside. “That’s my ride, sorry,” he quipped with an impish smile.
That joking reference to his brushes with the law reflected the very candid, humor-tinged interview we had with the controversial actor.
Charlie came to promote his new hit series, “Anger Management,” but he gamely and openly answered questions, including his meltdowns. He offered an “olive branch” to Chuck Lorre, the creator of “Two and a Half Men,” with whom he feuded and led to his headline-grabbing dismissal from the show.
In his new show cocreated by Bruce Helford, produced by Lionsgate and shown in the United States on the FX network, Charlie plays a namesake character, a nontraditional therapist whose specialty is anger management.
Charlie said he spent 10 years in therapy so he was able to draw “on a lot of that” in portraying his new character. “Are you talking specifically about the meltdown?” he answered when asked if he was in therapy when that controversy with Chuck erupted.
Replying that he was not seeing a therapist that time, Charlie added, “That whole thing. Yeah, it was pretty silly. I’ve taken the high road recently. I’m trying to sort of olive-branch that situation with Chuck and hopefully, some of the stuff I’m saying makes it into print … ”
On whether he “understood” where he was at the time, Charlie admitted: “It’s hard to. I think a lot of it was fueled by injustice because I know what a certain somebody had done was completely wrong. I was going to tell and show the world. That part of it probably could have stayed at home … ”
“Not really,” he replied when asked by a reporter if he had any self-doubt that he may not recover professionally from the meltdowns. “That sounds arrogant or grandiose. And arrogant I’m not.”
With a winking smile, he quipped: “Grandiose I am because my life is grandiose, let’s face it.”
Then he dropped the word “winning,” one of his catchphrases in weird media interviews he gave last year. “I knew it’s very bizarre when you think about the word ‘winning.’ I am not trying to create a pull quote here. If you think about winning, there was an energy that I had grabbed into. I said on a show the other night that I’d pretty much lost everything. How could I possibly be winning?
“I was flat broke. I was just trying to make some dough by going on that tour. That wasn’t just about getting out there and showing what a fool I was. It’s about having to generate some commerce. I never really thought it was over because the second you believe that, then it’s over … ”
“They were wrong,” Charlie commented about certain media folks who declared him dead professionally after his meltdowns. “I don’t know how else to put it. There are always going to be haters, naysayers, and people who want to write your eulogy. I tip my hat to FX, Lionsgate and Bruce for rolling the dice and not knowing what this could have been …”
While the show is earning solid ratings, the reviews have not been favorable in general. “I don’t read a lot of reviews because my dad taught me that if you believe the good ones, you got to believe the bad ones, too,” Charlie said.
We asked about his dad and brother Emilio Estevez’s dual memoir, “Along the Way,” which includes portions of the family’s experiences when they were in the Philippines to shoot Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” Martin brought along his kids as did Francis, who flew in his children.
Asked to recall how it was to be a kid during the “Apocalypse” filming and returning to the Philippines as a young man for Oliver Stone’s “Platoon,” Charlie said: “I spent eight months in the Philippines on ‘Apocalypse Now’ as a 10-year-old. I had my 11th birthday there. It was an incredible experience as you can possibly imagine.”
He recounted returning to Manila for “Platoon” on the cusp of the People Power revolution in 1986. “I left the Philippines a day early. Oliver made sure that my shots were all done because he told me there was going to be a revolution. He wanted to be in the streets filming it. He wanted me to join him. I asked, ‘What time is this going on?’ He said, ‘About 7:00 a.m.’ I said, ‘It’s all right, man. You got it. I’ll be there.’ I was at the airport at 6:00 a.m. and left the country. I wasn’t going to be there for any type of revolution for any reason.
Rooting for Pacquiao
“But I remember weeping as we lifted off. I was thinking, I survived it again. I have not been back since. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want to go back. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think your greatest treasure (Manny Pacquiao) was robbed a few weeks ago in Vegas … Anyway, if you talk to him, tell him I’m pissed and I’m rooting for him.”
On the difference or similarity between him and his dad, Charlie pointed out: “I guess if my dad were a carpenter, I’d have wound up banging nails. I don’t know. I don’t think you can really explain that easily.”
Then he dropped a revelation: “He told me not to do ‘Platoon.’ True story. He thought the country (Philippines) was in a state of civil unrest, that I wouldn’t make it home alive. I don’t think it had anything to do with like, he didn’t want to have his Vietnam film trumped, which we didn’t. ‘Apocalypse’ is the greatest film ever made, still to this day.”
Asked about love, Charlie—who’s had two ex-wives and several companions—said: “I heard about it, yeah. It’s there with my children, my family, my amazing group of best friends. As far as a relationship, I don’t know what that looks like … I think I might be polyamorous, who knows?”
Regarding his alleged drug use during the meltdowns, Charlie stressed: “I wasn’t in drugs last year … Do you mean during the whole run? I had drug tests during the run to prove it. I was on some other chemical misfiring in my brain, I am sure.”
Talking about the controversial show that he launched at the height of his controversy last year made him grin again and say, “Stick to what you know. I booked a 21-city, 33-day show with no act.”
He confirmed a newspaper quote that he’s considering retirement in a few years: “I don’t want to say I’ve peaked but I feel like my work is ahead of me. I think it’s going to be this show. People might dismiss it because it’s a sitcom or it’s on television, but this is the best material I’ve ever dealt with as an actor. You can include ‘Platoon’ and ‘Wall Street.’”