Regrets, Charlie Sheen has had a few. But this week, several politicos brought him to mind, causing one outlet to reach out to Sheen to talk about his infamous public media meltdown of 10 years ago.
In a Yahoo! Entertainment interview, Sheen reflected on how he traded early retirement for a hashtag in a series of mishaps, interview meltdowns and bizarre behavior that burned a lot of bridges.
“People have [said to] me, ‘Hey, man, that was so cool, that was so fun to watch. That was so cool to be a part of and support and all that energy and, you know, we stuck it to the man,” Sheen said. “My thought behind that is, ‘Oh, yeah, great. I’m so glad that I traded early retirement for a f***ing hashtag.'”
A decade ago, Sheen was the highest-paid actor on TV, earning nearly $2 million per episode on Two and a Half Men, a hit comedy for CBS. But he started to spiral downward when he pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in August 2010 and had a public battle with drug addiction. Stories of massive amounts spent on prostitutes and partying emerged, culminating with Sheen later publicly revealing a positive HIV diagnosis.
Two and a Half Men went on hiatus so Sheen could seek professional help. Then-CBS Chairman Les Moonves got involved, but Sheen opted for home treatment.
Sheen then engaged in a public battle with show creator Chuck Lorre.
In a series of interviews in 2011, Sheen became known for his memorable snippets in response to the public strife, including “winning,” “tiger blood,” “warlock” and “Adonis DNA.” He made sure to attack Lorre in nearly all of the chats.
He was officially fired from his sitcom on March 7, 2011, with Sheen staying in the news for the next few years off that notoriety.
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Today, he admits, it didn’t have to end like that.
“There’s a moment when [former CBS CEO] Les Moonves and his top lawyer, Bruce, were at my house and they said, ‘OK, the Warner jet is fueled up on the runway. Wheels up in an hour and going to rehab, right?’ My first thought was sort of like really … there’s some comedy value to what my first thought was,” Sheen says. “In that moment, when I said, ‘Oh, damn, I finally get the Warner jet.’ That’s all I heard. But if I could go back in time to that moment, I would’ve gotten on the jet. And it was that giant left turn in that moment that led to, you know, a very unfortunate sequence of public and insane events.”
Sheen now admits he was not a team player.
“There was 55 different ways for me to handle that situation, and I chose number 56. And so, you know, I think the growth for me post-meltdown or melt forward or melt somewhere — however you want to label it — it has to start with absolute ownership of my role in all of it,” Sheen explains. “And it was desperately juvenile.”
He added, “I think it was drugs or the residual effects of drugs … and it was also an ocean of stress and a volcano of disdain. It was all self-generated, you know,” Sheen says of what prompted the incident. “All I had to do was take a step back and say, ‘OK, let’s make a list. Let’s list, like, everything that’s cool in my life that’s going on right now. Let’s make a list of what’s not cool.’ You know what I’m saying? And the cool list was really full. The not cool list was, like, two things that could’ve been easily dismissed.
“I was getting loaded and my brain wasn’t working right.”
Today, the novelty of public celebrity meltdowns is looked at differently. No longer is it cool to sit back and watch someone set their life on fire.
“I was really a guy that needed someone to reach out to and say, ‘Hey, man, obviously there’s a ton of other s*** going on. How can we help?'” Sheen says. “And instead they showed up in droves with banners and songs, all types of fanfare and celebration of, you know, what I think was a very public display of a mental health moment.”
Today, Sheen is focused on developing a new show. “I just, I have absolute faith that the things I’m going to do professionally in Act 3 are going to put a muzzle on all that stuff and people can celebrate me again for what I actually do for a living.”