Sheen, Charlie: 1965—: Actor
Charlie Sheen: 1965—: Actor
Charlie Sheen has been a prolific entertainer ever since he began acting as a child alongside his famous father, Martin Sheen. Although at first he thought he might be a baseball player—he was the star pitcher on his high school team—he eventually ended up following in the footsteps of his family. His first big break came when he got a part in Oliver Stone's Platoon, and since then, despite a period of wild behavior that effected his entire life, he has worked steadily in Hollywood and is known and loved by moviegoers everywhere.
First Introduced to Acting
Born Carlos Irwin Estevez to Ramon (Martin Sheen) and Janet Estevez on September 3, 1965, in New York City, the ability to entertain was something that all the Estevez clan seemed to inherit. Sheen's siblings also became entertainers—Emilio Estevez and Renee Estevez were also actors and Ramon Estevez was a songwriter. The family moved to Malibu, California, when Sheen was two because Sheen's father had begun to make a movie career for himself and needed to be closer to Hollywood. Sheen became friends as a youth with such later-known actors as Sean and Christopher Penn, and Rob and Chad Lowe, and the boys were often found making home movies rather than the other things young boys are wont to do. He made his screen debut at age nine in 1974 in The Execution of Private Slovik, a movie which starred his father, Martin Sheen. He was also seen as an extra in Martin Scorcese's Apocalypse Now, a movie his father also starred in. The movie made a lasting impression on Sheen because the whole family moved to the Philippines during filming. They had to suffer through typhoons and other natural problems, and then his father, Martin, suffered a near-fatal heart attack while filming the movie. Even with all these issues the experience left him with a positive view of the movie-making business.
Growing up Sheen was involved in various drama clubs, but it was baseball in which he really excelled. He went to baseball camp for four summers in a row and by the time he was a senior in high school he had become the lead pitcher. He was even offered a baseball scholarship by the University of Kansas, but he started skipping school and by the time his senior year ended, it was estimated that he missed two-thirds of the year. According to Hollywood.com, "The bad boy side of him also surfaced early with arrests for marijuana possession and credit card forgery coming prior to his unceremonious failure to graduate from high school." His parents were not happy with Sheen's failure to graduate—something that happened not because he wasn't good at school but because of his missed classes—and were worried when Sheen decided, rather than going back to school to get his degree, that he wanted to attempt a career as an actor. He only managed to pacify his parents with the promise that if he failed to launch a successful career soon he would return home, get his high school degree, and go on to college.
At a Glance . . .
Born Carlos Irwin Estevez on September 3, 1965, in New York, NY; son of Martin Sheen and Janet Estevez; married Donna Peele, September 3, 1995 (divorced); married Denise Richards, June 15, 2002; children: Cassandra (with Paula Profitt).
Career: Actor 1974–; screenwriter, 1989–; film producer, 1989–.
Memberships: Screen Actors Guild.
Awards: Golden Globe, best performance in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy, for Spin City, 2002.
Address: Agent— ICM, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Phone: (310) 550-4000.
He started out making a few small movies that didn't do much to bring him to the attention of the public, but did get Sheen his Screen Actor's Guild card and some recognition by the industry. In 1985 Sheen had a daughter named Cassandra with Paula Profitt, his childhood sweetheart. They chose not to marry. In 1986, however, he played a small part in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as a rebellious boy who gave advice to Ferris Bueller's sister in jail. The part was endearing and won Sheen a lot of attention, even though it was small. It was this appearance that Oliver Stone saw that made him think that Sheen had something special and he cast him in his movie Platoon.
Career Took Off After Platoon
Platoon is considered the movie that launched Sheen's career. In the movie he played a young man going to war in Vietnam, a difficult part, but one that won Sheen critical acclaim, especially after the movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1987. It was also this movie that led to Sheen being listed as one of twelve promising new actors of 1986 in John Willis' Screen World. Stone so admired Sheen's portrayal of Private Chris Taylor in Platoon that he decided while the film was still in production that he'd like to work with Sheen again. There was later a debate about what movie to do next, a sequel to the then popular Platoon or a movie set in the fast-paced world of Wall Street. The next year Sheen was seen in the movie Wall Street alongside Michael Douglas, with his own father playing a small part as his character's father.
He was next seen in the 1989 comedy Major League, where he was able to put his old baseball skills to use, playing a near-blind pitcher. With his success at comedy proven, he was next seen in Hot Shots! which spoofed action flicks like Top Gun and then Hot Shots! Part Deux which spoofed the Rambo movies. In 1993 Sheen was seen in the remake of The Three Musketeers, in which he played a dreamy and romantic Aramis. The following year, while Sheen was seen onscreen in Major League II, he was awarded a star on the illustrious Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It was at this time that Sheen's profligate behavior began to come to the public's notice as he was sent to court for a few infractions. He married Donna Peele in 1995, saying that she was the angel he needed to help him recover. They divorced six months later. Sheen gave the reason, according to The Buffalo News, that "I couldn't breathe. I like breathing too much. I had to come up for air." Just before his divorce in 1996, Sheen had his name come to light in connection with infamous Hollywood Madam, Heidi Fleiss.
Returned to Healthy Living
Even though his life was in turmoil, however, Sheen was still seen in movie after movie, including All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 and Loose Women in 1996, and Money Talks and Mission to Mars in 1997. In 1998 Sheen's substance abuse problem came to a head when he overdosed on drugs. When he was released from the hospital, he checked himself into Promises, a rehab center. He stayed there, however, for only one day before he was out on the street drinking and taking drugs again. The police ordered him to return to Promises. According to the Herald Sun, this happened after "his father … reported his son's drug overdose to a Los Angeles judge and demanded he be 'locked away.'" This seemed to do the trick, because Sheen began cleaning up his act. In 1999 he was seen playing a funny cameo of himself in the movie Being John Malkovich, and he told cast members at the time that he had been sober and clean for a year. About his return from his downward spiral, Sheen told ET Online, "I'm just excited to be back in the game. I don't just mean the entertainment game; I mean the game of life. I'm excited to have been given a second shot … I've never had more fun."
In 2000 Sheen co-starred in the movie Rated X, alongside his brother Emilio Estevez. In the movie they played the real Mitchell brothers, Jim and Artie, who were famous for producing the porn movie Behind the Green Door, a movie that took porn movies into mainstream consciousness. Sheen and his brother had barely spoken in the past ten years while Sheen was ensconced in his rather questionable world of drugs and sex, but now things between the brothers seemed to be improving. Estevez told The Fresno Bee, "The experience of making this picture together probably brought us closer together than we had been in the last 10 years. And we went from sporadically conversing to really talking every day. So I feel like, if nothing else, this movie really brought us closer together and I'm thankful for that." There were some fears that people would compare the lives of the Mitchell brothers with Sheen and Estevez, or that the act of pretending to take drugs would increase Sheen's desire to return to his wilder lifestyle. Sheen told Entertainment Weekly, however, that this was not the case, "I was reminded why I didn't want to live that lifestyle anymore."
In 2000 Sheen was given the opportunity of his newly cleaned up life—he took over as lead on the sitcom Spin City after Michael J. Fox was forced to quit because of his battle with Parkinson's disease. Producers approached him about playing a rather colorful character on the show, and Sheen jumped at the opportunity to, as he told the Herald Sun, "deal with my notoriety head-on." According to Hollywood.com, "While there were naysayers who weren't sure that the intense actor could pull off working in a weekly comedy series, he more than proved them wrong, developing a nice rapport with the cast. Not only did he reinvigorate his own career, but he also rejuvenated the flagging series." He told ET Online about working on the show, "There's such a good camaraderie. It is such a warm and groovy place to work, a lot of laughs, a lot of fun, a lot of freedom.… It's the best working environment I've ever encountered in my 18 years in the business." In 2002 Sheen won a Golden Globe for best actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy.
In 2001 Sheen was seen in the movie Good Advice alongside Angie Harmon and Denise Richards. Richards also appeared on Spin City, guest starring as Sheen's girlfriend. Sheen and Richards had met years before, but it was the Spin City spot that brought them together. In 2002 the two were married. Sheen's future projects include a new CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men, with Jon Cryer and Blythe Danner, scheduled to begin airing in the fall of 2003. Sheen has returned to Hollywood like the prodigal son and has managed to retain his bank of supporters and fans. Sheen told the Sunday Herald Sun that he had always kept faith that Hollywood would forgive him, despite his temporary ban from the A-list. "It's a hard place, but it's a company town. If you work hard and get the ratings (on TV) they will forgive you almost anything." And things are only looking up from here, with a new wife, a refurbished career, and a Golden Globe under his belt, Sheen should be an exciting person to watch in Hollywood.
The Execution of Private Slovik, 1974.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986.
Eight Men Out, 1988.
Major League, 1989.
Navy Seals, 1990.
Men at Work, 1990.
Hot Shots!, 1991.
Hot Shots! Part Deux, 1993.
The Three Musketeers, 1993.
The Chase, 1994.
Major League II, 1994.
The Arrival, 1996.
Loose Women, 1996.
Money Talks, 1997.
Mission To Mars, 1997.
Being John Malkovich, 1999.
Rated X, 2000.
Good Advice, 2001.
The Chase, 1994.
No Code of Conduct, 1998.
Tale of Two Sisters,, 1989.
Mission to Mars, 1997.
No Code of Conduct, 1998.
Spin City, 2000-2002.
Two and a Half Men, 2003.
Almanac of Famous People, 7th edition, Gale Group, 2000.
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"Sheen and Fox on Spin City, " ET Online, www.et online.com/television/a6719.htm (June 9, 2003.)
"The Sheens on Spin City!, " ET Online, www.et online.com/television/a8716.htm (June 9, 2003).
"The Ultra Lean Charlie Sheen!," ET Online, www .etonline.com/celebrity/a2811.htm (June 9, 2003).
—Catherine Victoria Donaldson
Sheen, Martin: 1940—: Actor, Activist
Martin Sheen: 1940—: Actor, activist
A powerful, versatile actor, Martin Sheen is equally convincing in roles as diverse as the rebel killer in Badlands, a homophobic father in Consenting Adults, and President Kennedy in the television miniseries JFK. In his film roles Sheen has often played the loner or outsider, whereas many of his television portrayals are of historical or political figures. His political activism is at least as important to him as his acting career; he is tireless in his appearance at rallies and protests for nuclear disarmament, homeless rights, opposition to the death penalty, and other causes.
Martin Sheen was born Ramon Estevez on August 3, 1940 in Dayton, Ohio, the seventh of ten children. His father, Francisco, was a Spanish emigre; his Irish-American mother, Mary Ann, died when he was 11. The family was quite poor and at times had to turn to local Catholic organizations for assistance.
Young Ramon decided to become an actor after a small role in The Caine Mutiny at Chaminade High School. This led to a prize-winning appearance on a local television talent show. His father wanted him to go to the University of Dayton rather than attempting to become an actor. To avoid directly defying his father's wishes, Ramon deliberately failed the college entrance exam.
Proud of Hispanic Heritage
Sheen's parish priest gave him bus fare to New York. He took the usual variety of low-income jobs such as clerking while pursuing his acting dream and going on casting calls. At this time he changed his name because jobs for Hispanic actors were almost nonexistent. He chose Sheen in honor of prominent televangelist Fulton Sheen. In an interview with Horizon Magazine, Sheen said, "I'm very proud of my Hispanic heritage … I never changed my name. I never will. In the context of the business, I had to adapt to a way of nonconfrontation 40 years ago, so I invented myself. I invented Martin Sheen. Within my heart I'm still Ramon."
Sheen never took formal acting lessons. He began working with the experimental theater groups—The Actors' Co-op and The Living Theater—and did custodial work at the theater and sometimes was an under-study before moving up to appearing on stage. Early roles included ones in Yeat's Purgatory and the controversial Connection, a play about drug addiction. At this time Sheen met Janet Templeton, an art student who became his wife in 1961.
At a Glance . . .
Born Ramon Estevez on August 3, 1940, in Dayton, OH; married Janet Templeton, 1961; children: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Ramon Estevez, Renée Estevez. Religion: Catholic. Politics: Democrat.
Career: Actor's Co-op/Living Theatre, New York, 1961; numerous films, including: The Incident, 1967; Catch-22, 1972; Badlands, 1974; Apocalypse Now, 1979; Gandhi, 1982; Firestarter, 1984; Wall Street, 1987; Cadence, 1989; The American President, 1995; Spawn, 1997; Not Another Teen Movie, 2001; Stockpile, 2001; The Apostle Paul, 2001; The Confidence Game, 2002; Catch Me If You Can, 2002; We the People, 2002; tv series: The West Wing, 1999-.
Awards: Tony nomination, Subject Was Roses, 1964; Golden Globe Best Television Actor, Blind Ambition, 1979; Emmy, Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, Murphy Brow, 1993; Imagen Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, 1998; Golden Satellite, Best Actor in a Television Series (Drama), The West Wing, 1999; TV Guide, Favorite Actor in a New Series, The West Wing, 2000; Golden Globe, Best Actor in a Television Series (Drama), The West Wing, 2000.
In 1964 Sheen received critical acclaim on Broadway in The Subject was Roses in which he played a soldier returning home to his fractured family. He was nominated for a Tony award and also received a Golden Globe award nomination for his lead in the film adaptation. Throughout much of his career, Sheen has continued to work sporadically in theater.
Sheen first appeared in film as a teenage hoodlum who hijacked a subway in 1967's The Incident. He gave an arresting performance as the amoral teen killer in 1973's Badlands, but was less than stellar in the horror movies Spawn, Firestarter, and The Dead Zone. More recently, he has done excellent supporting work in respected films such as Gandhi, 1982 and The American President, 1995, in which he played the Chief of Staff. In the 1987 movie Wall Street, he played opposite his son Charlie.
Heart of Darkness
Of his film work, Sheen is best-known for his mesmerizing role in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979), even though he was not the actor Coppola wanted for the part. The story is based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness. The film takes place during the Vietnamese conflict and Sheen plays the pasrt of Captain Willard, a man leading a secret mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade officer, played by Marlon Brando. Sheen's character was often drunk, which was mirrored by the actor's growing problem with alcohol. His over consumption of alcohol, combined with extraordinarily difficult filming conditions in the Philippines (including a typhoon), may have contributed to the heart attack he suffered on location. He was stricken while alone in the wilds and had to drag himself almost a mile for help. Sheen prayed to Mary for strength and vowed to "change my life from this day forward." He has followed up on his vow. His strong religious beliefs as a Catholic have also contributed to many of his political convictions, including his anti-death penalty stance.
Sheen is also well-known for his television work. His early television work included playing a wife-beater in the series East Side, West Side and appearances in The Outer Limits, The Defenders, Route 66, and other dramatic series. In 1967 he was a regular on the soap opera As The World Turns. In 1974 he starred as Robert F. Kennedy in The Missiles of October, a show about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The same year, he was acclaimed for his work in The Execution of Private Slovik. In Blind Ambition, a 1979 miniseries, Sheen portrayed John Dean, special counsel to President Nixon, for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Actor. In 1993 he turned in another widely lauded performance as John F. Kennedy in the miniseries JFK.
Sheen's other notable television roles included the ground-breaking 1972 television movie That Certain Summer, in which he played the lover of a gay father revealing his homosexuality to his son. Ironically in 1985 Sheen gave a convincing rendition of a father unable to accept his son's homosexuality in Consenting Adult. He gave strong performances in Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story, about a champion of homeless rights, The Andersonville Trial, and Gettysburg, in which Sheen played General Robert E. Lee. Expanding outside the field of actor, Sheen won a daytime Emmy in 1986 for his directorial debut of Babies Having Babies, a CBS Schoolbreak Special.
Dedicated to Social Causes
In 1999 Sheen began his portrayal of another President on the very successful television show The West Wing. He plays New England Democrat President Josiah Bartlet, a role that has won him Emmy nominations. Although his character was a very decent, moral man, the role sometimes required Sheen to champion causes to which he was personally opposed. Sheen, however, is able to separate his very strongly held beliefs from his acting career. His dedication to anti-nuclear weapons, anti-death penalty, workers' rights, and other causes have lead to his arrest on approximately 70 occasions.
Sheen didn't just show up at rallies, either. Sheen donated his income from the motion picture Gandhi to Mother Teresa. He helped pay for medical care for three young survivors of a massacre at a church in Mexico. Other favored causes included the United Farm Workers and the rights of the homeless.
Sheen was a strong supporter of the Democratic party. Despite his dedication to social causes and his frequent portrayals of political figures, Sheen says he has no interest in running for office himself. He is forthright about other conflicts between his acting career and his beliefs. In 1999 he stated his agreement with the views of Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, who decried Hollywood's obsession with sex and violence. He will not accept roles that contain unnecessary sex or violence. Sheen believes that he has probably lost jobs because of his activism, but that he may have been hired for others by people who supported his views.
Sheen has been nominated for and has won awards in all fields of acting, from Tonys to Emmys. In 1998 Sheen received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Imagen Foundation, an organization that honors positive portrayals of Latinos in film, television, and advertising. He received Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for Kennedy and for Best TV Actor for the miniseries Blind Ambition. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series on Murphy Brown. He has also received awards for his social activism, including the 2001 Peacemaker Award from the Physicians for Social Responsibility.
An Acting Dynasty
Unlike many celebrities, Sheen and his wife Janet have been happily married for four decades. Three of their children, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, and Renee Estevez, are actors; son Ramon is both an actor and a songwriter. Like his father, Charlie Sheen has had a much publicized struggle with alcohol and drugs. According to acquaintances, Martin felt a strong sense of responsibility for his son's problems, feeling that he was not there for his son growing up and gave Charlie too many material things. Martin has taken a "tough-love" approach to Charlie's problems. He called on Charlie's fellow actors Rob Lowe and Clint Eastwood to participate in a confrontation demanding that Charlie straighten up. Sheen stated in The New York Times, "Pray for my boy, he has appetites that get him into trouble." Finally he alerted authorities that Charlie had broken the terms of his probation by using drugs. Charlie then attended a rehabilitation center, which has helped him stay sober.
Martin Sheen has appeared with his children in film and television. Most notably, Martin directed himself and sons Charlie and Ramon in the well-intentioned if heavy-handed Cadence. Charlie plays a young private thrown into the stockade. Martin plays the racist stockade commander. Martin Sheen both directed and acted in the television movie Beverly Hill Brats with son Ramon. His wife Janet was the producer. Martin had a small role parodying Apocalypse Now in Hot Shots Part Deux, which his son Charlie starred in. Martin also guest-starred on Charlie's hit series Spin City. Daughter Renee has a regular role on The West Wing with her father. The head of such a successful acting dynasty is certain to act in many more laudable roles, alone and with his family, and it is certain that his fans will follow him with the avid interest he deserves.
The Incident, 1967.
The Subject Was Roses, 1968.
The Andersonville Trial, 1970.
Apocalypse Now, 1979.
The Final Countdown, 1980.
The American President, 1995.
Not Another Teen Movie, 2001.
The Confidence Game, 2002.
We the People, 2002.
Catch Me If You Can, 2002.
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Gale Who's Who in the Theatre, 17th edition, Gale Research, 1981.
Hargrove, Jim, Martin Sheen: Actor and Activist, Children's Press, 1991.
Riley, Lee, and David Schumacher, The Sheens: Martin, Charlie and Emilio Estevez, New York, 1989.
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Sorkin, Aaron, Sheen, Martin, The West Wing, Pocket Books, 2002.
The American Feminist, Spring, 2001.
The Guardian (Manchester), November 2, 2001.
Horizon Magazine, December, 1999.
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Fresh Air, NPR Interview Transcript, http://freshair.npr.org/guestInfoFA.cfm?name=martinsheen
Physicians for Social Responsibility, http://www.psrla.org/sheen.html