Charlie Sheen knows both the highs and lows of fame – going from $1.8 million an episode on the sitcom Two and a Half Men to off the rails and out of control.
But the Charlie of today seems relatively normal. For the man who became known for his drug-fuelled outbursts, where better to reflect on the madness of all that than on a calm Pacific Ocean. Sunday Night’s Matt Doran went on a fishing expedition – something Charlie has loved since he was a kid – to discuss the star’s past, present and future.
“My dad took me [fishing] when I was a child, quite a bit,” Charlie explains. “He just did it, he just did it for me, you know.”
Charlie’s Sheen’s father is actor Martin Sheen, star of Apocalypse Now. Charlie had a privileged upbringing and, thanks to his famous dad, there were plenty of opportunities to pursue a career in Hollywood.
Charlie’s breakout role came he was just 21 in the Oscar-winning movie Platoon. A year later, he starred in another big-budget blockbuster, Wall Street – this time with his dad playing his father on the big screen.
Yet Charlie’s biggest role would come on the small screen in Two and a Half Men, playing a free-wheeling, often out-of-control uncle – a role that fit him like a glove.
And over the eight years he starred in the series, Charlie’s real life became a drama of its own. He was earning a fortune and spending it on drugs, parties and prostitutes.
“You just get to a point where it just gets it gets shameful, you know, it gets embarrassing,” Charlie reveals. “You’re better than that, and you deserve better than what you’re giving yourself and what you are delivering upon others.”
When a porn star and a model moved in to his home, Charlie’s life became a TV soap opera – but the truth was Charlie was hitting rock bottom. He was diagnosed with HIV, and began his recovery by going public.
“I felt hopeless and I never believed in anything being hopeless, everything was always, ‘Don’t worry, we got this, we will figure a way out of this,’” Charlie remembers. “Then it just got to a point where it was like, oh… there’s no route towards extraction.”
“It’s frustrating, because when you live a life where you’ve managed solutions on so many fronts and suddenly you just don’t have one, it’s frustrating.”
It took time, but Charlie found a solution – quitting drugs and alcohol – and doing all he could to repair the damage he caused to his family.
“I’ve got five kids, three granddaughters,” says Charlie. “I’ve got responsibilities everywhere and it’s nice to know that any time that phone rings, day or night, that I’m available at the drop of a hat.”
Reporter: Matt Doran
Producers: Kristy-Lee Lorraway
Charlie Sheen will be visiting Australia next month for a speaking tour. He’ll be at The Plenary at the Melbourne Convention Centre on 3 November, and in Sydney on 4 November at the ICC’s Darling Harbour Theatre. Head to www.charliesheenlive.com.au for more information and tickets.