Nationality: American. Born: Ramon Estevez in Dayton, Ohio, 3 August 1940; brother of actor Joe Estevez. Education: Attended Chaminade High School, Dayton. Family: Married Janet Templeton, 1961, sons: the actors Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and Ramon Estevez, daughter: the actress Renée Estevez. Career: Joined Julian Beck and Judith Malina's off-off-Broadway Living Theatre, New York, late 1950s; had a key featured role on stage in The Connection, 1961; made his Broadway debut in Never Live over a Pretzel Factory; also in The Subject Was Roses, 1964; made film debut in The Incident, 1967; appeared in the TV soap opera As the World Turns, 1967–68; played the title role in Joseph Papp's "mod" production of Hamlet, 1968; appeared in Then Came Bronson, the first of his many TV movies and mini-series, 1969; starred in the TV series The West Wing as Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, President of the United States, 1999. Awards: San Sebastian International Film Festival Best Actor, for Badlands, 1974; Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, 1998; Best Performance by an Actor in a Series-Drama Golden Satellite Award, Best Actor in a New Series TV Guide Award, for The West Wing, 1999. Agent: Innovative Artists, 1999 Avenue of the Stars, #2850, Los Angeles, CA 90067, U.S.A.
Films as Actor:
The Incident (Peerce) (as Artie Connors)
The Subject Was Roses (Grosbard) (as Timmy Cleary)
Then Came Bronson (William Graham—for TV)
Catch-22 (Mike Nichols) (as Lt. Dobbs); The Andersonville Trial (George C. Scott—for TV)
Goodbye, Raggedy Ann (Cook—for TV); Mongo's Back in Town (Chomsky—for TV); No Drums, No Bugles (Ware) (as Ashby Gatrell)
Pickup on 101 (Florea) (as Les Cavanaugh); Rage (George C. Scott) (as Major Holliford); Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (McCowan—for TV) (as Graytak); That Certain Summer (Lamont Johnson—for TV); Pursuit (Michael Crichton—for TV) (as Timothy Drew)
Crime Club (Rich—for TV) (as Deputy Wilson); Letters from Three Lovers (Erman—for TV); Catholics (Gold—for TV) (as Father John Kinsella); Message to My Daughter (Robert Michael Lewis—for TV)
Badlands (Malick) (as Kit); The Execution of Private Slovik (Lamont Johnson—for TV) (title role); The Story of Pretty Boy Floyd (Ware—for TV); The California Kid (Heffron—for TV)
The Legend of Earl Durand (John Patterson) (as Luther Sykes); The Last Survivors (Katzin—for TV); Sweet Hostage (Philips—for TV) (as Leonard Hatch)
The Cassandra Crossing (Cosmatos) (as Robby Navarro); The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (Gessner) (as Frank Hallett)
Eagle's Wing (Harvey) (as Pike)
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Capt. Willard)
The Final Countdown (Don Taylor) (as Warren Lasky); Loophole (Break In) (Quested) (as Stephen Booker)
Gandhi (Attenborough) (as Walker); That Championship Season (Miller) (as Tom Daley); In the Custody of Strangers (Greenwald—for TV)
Enigma (Szwarc) (as Alex Holbeck); Man, Woman, and Child (Richards) (as Bob Beckwith); The Dead Zone (Cronenberg) (as Sen. Greg Stillson); No Place to Hide (Johnson and Bird) (as narrator); Choices of the Heart (Sargent—for TV); In the King of Prussia (De Antonio—doc)
The Guardian (David Greene—for TV) (as Charlie Hyatt); Firestarter (Lester) (as Capt. Hollister)
Out of the Darkness (Jud Taylor—for TV) (as Ed Zigo); Consenting Adult (Gates—for TV) (as Ken Lynd); In the Name of the People (Christopher—doc) (as narrator); Broken Rainbow (Mudd—doc) (as narrator); The Fourth Wise Man (Michael Ray Rhodes—for TV); From Blitzkrieg to the Bomb (doc) (as narrator); The Real Thing (Schnall—doc) (as narrator); Shattered Spirits (Greenwald—for TV); The Atlanta Child Murders (Erman—for TV)
News at Eleven (Robe—for TV) (as Frank Kenley); Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story (Heffron—for TV) (as Mitch Snyder); State of Emergency (Bennett) (as Dr. Alex Carmody)
Secrets of the Titanic (Hurley—doc) (as narrator); Siesta (Lambert) (as Del, Claire's husband); Wall Street (Oliver Stone) (as Carl Fox); Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8 (Kagan—for TV) (as James Marion Hunt); The Believers (Schlesinger) (as Dr. Cal Jamison)
Da (Clark) (as Charlie); Judgment in Berlin (Leo Penn) (as Herbert J. Stern); Walking after Midnight (Kay—doc)
Beverly Hills Brats (Sotirakis) (as Jeffrey Miller); Beyond the Stars (Personal Choice) (Saperstein) (as Paul Andrews); Cold Front (Goldstein) (as John Hyde); Nightbreaker (Markle—for TV) (as Dr. Alexander Brown)
My Home, My Prison (Muñoz) (doc) (as Narrator); Original Intent (Marcarelli) (as Joe); Touch and Die (Solinas) (as Frank); The Water Engine (Schachter—for TV) (as chain letter voice); Blood on the Badge (McCormick)
Hear No Evil (Greenwald) (as Lt. Philip Brock); Gettysburg (Maxwell) (as Gen. Robert E. Lee); The Killing Box (Ghost Brigade) (Hickenlooper) (as Gen. Haworth); The Last P.O.W.? The Bobby Garwood Story (Georg Sanford Brown—for TV) (as Capt. Ike Eisenbraun); Hot Shots!, Part Deux (Abrahams) (as himself, uncredited); A Matter of Justice (Final Justice) (Switzer—for TV) (as Jack Brown)
Roswell (Kagan—for TV) (as Townsend); When the Bough Breaks (Cohn) (as Police Capt. Swaggert); Boca (Avancini—for TV) (as Jesse James Montgomery); Trigger Fast (Lister) (as Jackson Baines); Guns of Honor: Rebel Rousers (for TV); Running Wild (Humer—doc) (as Dan Walker); Fortunes of War (Notz) (as Francis Labeck); Hits! (Greenblatt) (as Kelly); One of Her Own (Armand Mastroianni—for TV) (as Asst. D.A. Pete Maresca)
Gospa (Sedlar) (as Jozo Zovko); The Break (Katzin) (as Gil Robbins); Les Cent et une Nuits (A Hundred and One Nights) (Varda) (as Furtive and Friendly Appearance);Dillinger and Capone (Purdy) (as Dillinger); Dead Presidents (Albert and Allen Hughes) (as The Judge, uncredited); The American President (Rob Reiner) (as A. J. MacInerney); Captain Nuke and the Bomba Boys (Demolition Day) (Gale) (as Jeff Snyder); Present Tense, Past Perfect (Dreyfuss—for TV) (short); Sacred Cargo (Buravsky) (as Father Andrew Kanvesky)
Project ALF (Lowry—for TV) (as Colonel Miltoil); The War at Home (Estevez) (as Bob Collier); Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (Michael Ray Rhodes) (as Peter Maurin); The Elevator (Bologna); The Crystal Cave (as King Arthur); The Great War (Byker, Goldfarb) (as voice); Marlon Brando: The Wild One (Joyce—for TV) (doc) (as himself)
Tudjman (doc) (as Narrator); Titanic: Anatomy of a Disaster (Elisco) (doc) (as Narrator); 187: Documented (Fong) (doc) (as Voice); Contagious (Napolitano—for TV); Truth or Consequences, N.M. (Kiefer Sutherland) (as Sir); Hostile Waters (Drury—for TV) (as Aurora Skipper); Spawn (Mark A.Z. Dippé) (as Jason Wynn); Medusa's Child (Shaw—mini for TV) (as U.S. President)
Voyage of Terror (Trenchard-Smith—for TV) (as Henry); Taylor's Campaign (Cohen) (as Narrator); Stranger in the Kingdom (Jay Craven) (as Sigurd Moulton); Snitch (Ted Demme) (as Hanolon); Shadrach (Styron) (as Narrator); No Code of Conduct (Michaels) (as Bill Peterson); Gunfighter (Christopher Coppola) (as The Stranger); Babylon 5: The River of Souls (Greek—for TV) (as The Soul Hunter); A Letter from Death Row (Baker, Michaels); Free Money (Simoneau) (as New Warden)
Texas Funeral (W. Blake Herron) (as Grandpa Starta); Ninth Street (Rebman, Willmott) (as Father Frank); Lucky Town (Beseth) (as The Red); The Darklings (Jeffrey Reiner—for TV) (as Ira Everett); Lost & Found (Jeff Pollack) (as Mr. Millstone); Storm (Done, Spano—for TV) (as General Roberts); D.R.E.A.M. Team (Hamilton—for TV) (as Garrison); Forget Me Never (Yelin, Longstreet—for TV) (as Jack); The Time Shifters (Azzopardi—for TV) (as Grifasi)
O (Nelson) (as Coach Duke); Seeing in the Dark
Babies Having Babies (d—for TV)
No Means No (Auerbach) (exec pr)
Cadence (Stockade) (d, co-sc, + ro as Sgt. Otis V. McKinney)
By SHEEN: article—
Interview with Emile De Antonio, in American Film (Washington, D.C.), December 1982.
On SHEEN: books—
Riley, Lee, and David Schumacher, The Sheens: Martin, Charlie and Emilio Estevez, New York, 1989.
Hargrove, Jim, Martin Sheen: Actor and Activist, Chicago, 1991.
On SHEEN: articles—
Current Biography 1977, New York, 1977.
Vallely, J., "Martin Sheen: Heart of Darkness, Heart of Gold," in Rolling Stone (New York), 1 November 1979.
Hingley, Audrey T., "The Luster of Martin Sheen," in Saturday Evening Post, December 1983.
McGillivray, David, "Martin Sheen," in Films and Filming (London), December 1985.
Kellner, Elena, "All in the Family" (cover story), in Hispanic (Austin, Texas), May 1994.
Mooney, J., "Martin Sheen in Badlands," in Movieline (Escondido), December 1994.
Doucette, Len, "Cameo: Citizen Sheen," in Modern Maturity (Lakewood, California), March/April 2000.
* * *
Martin Sheen is a prolific, reliable actor whose versatility has been evident from the very beginning of his screen career. In his first two films, he offered fine performances as altogether different characters: a thug who terrorizes the passengers in a New York City subway car, in The Incident; and a young World War II veteran who becomes immersed in his parents' marital problems, in The Subject Was Roses (a role for which he had won acclaim on Broadway).
Early on, Sheen—along with a seemingly endless list of actors who, over the decades, have been able to strike nonconformist poses—was heralded as a "new James Dean." He gave his most Dean-like performance in Terrence Malick's cult classic, Badlands, playing an alienated and amoral young rebel-on-the-run who, joined by a female counterpart, goes on a killing binge. Badlands is a film that serves as a major link in a cinematic chain that includes They Live by Night, Bonnie and Clyde, Thieves Like Us, and Natural Born Killers. Unlike so many James Dean clones who quickly proved to be flavors-of-the-month, however, Sheen has had a substantial career. Yet his early, flashy roles never did propel him to major screen stardom. By far, the major body of his best work came in made-for-television movies and mini-series, including That Certain Summer, Catholics, The Execution of Private Slovik, Sweet Hostage, Kennedy (as John F. Kennedy), The Missiles of October (as Robert Kennedy), News at Eleven, The Long Road Home, and Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story.
Far and away the penultimate Sheen screen appearance—and most consequential credit of his career—is in Francis Coppola's much-publicized, much-analyzed Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now. Sheen has the pivotal role of the fatigued Captain Willard, who is dispatched to seek out and kill the renegade officer Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Sheen even suffered a heart attack during the film's endlessly exhausting shoot in the Philippines. Still, with regard to its actors, it was the controversial presence and performance of Brando that was the most discussed upon the film's release, and remains so to this day. This focus on Brando does not reflect on Sheen's talent, but it does symbolize his inability to break through as a major movie star.
As he aged, Sheen has maintained a high profile by constantly accepting roles in TV movies, and in 1999 was cast as the U.S. President in the TV series The West Wing. But he has not been absent from the big screen. He has had nice supporting roles in films ranging from Oliver Stone's Wall Street (playing the father of real-life son Charlie Sheen) to Rob Reiner's The American President, with his role in the latter (as President Michael Douglas's chief of staff) providing a nice segue into The West Wing. He has been one of the cast members of prestigious epics (Gandhi and Gettysburg, playing General Robert E. Lee in the latter), and has narrated an endless number of documentaries and features (including Stone's JFK). Also of note is his political activism. Sheen is a humanist and progressive who has never avoided being at the center of an organized protest; in April 1996, he was one of 20 people arrested during a Good Friday demonstration outside the Riverside Research Institute, a Manhattan-based nuclear research facility. Sheen has translated his politics to the screen via his involvement in such projects as Maria Florio's and Victoria Mudd's Broken Rainbow, an Oscar-winning documentary about the resettling of Navajo Indians, and Emile De Antonio's In the King of Prussia, about a trial of Roman Catholic activists in Pennsylvania.
Around the late 1980s and early 90s, it could be said that Sheen's identity was related as much to his being the father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez as to his own professional accomplishments. In this regard, he joined the likes of Henry Fonda, John Carradine, Lloyd Bridges, Kirk Douglas, and others as the senior member of a Hollywood acting family. Yet by the late 90s, the younger Sheen and Estevez had not established screen careers to rival a Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges, or Michael Douglas—and, with the success of The West Wing, Sheen Senior had jump-started his own career by becoming a high-profile television star.