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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Charlie Sheen

Could Charlie Sheen become the next Robert Downey Jr.?

March 8, 2011 |  7:30 am


A talented but troubled actor potentially suffering from a bipolar disorder is fired from a hit TV show after one too many embarrassing incidents involving substance abuse.

And less than a decade later, Robert Downey, Jr. goes from a tabloid story and "Ally McBeal" sideshow to the second-highest grossing film of the year.

It's far too early (and pat) to suggest that Charlie Sheen is headed for a career revival along the lines of Downey's "Iron Man" comeback or anything else possibly portended by Sheen's cameo in Downey's "Due Date."  First, Sheen (like Downey, 45) has to demonstrate he wants a comeback. Unlike the Iron Man's fall from grace in the late 1990s, which seemed to contain a certain amount of private shame, Sheen has embraced the dysfunction. Downey at his lowest moments seemed at least nominally interested in rehab, or not outright disdainful of it. Sheen's heal-thyself attitude doesn't exactly scream 12-step program.

Still, here are five reasons why an "Iron Man"-style resurrection isn't out of the realm of possibility for  Sheen in the years to come.

The comeback factor:
Americans love a public comeback almost as much as they love a public spiraling. In fact, "Different Strokes" cast members aside, it's hard to think of actors with substance-abuse problems who weren't given second and third chances. (Allegations of misogyny and anti-Semitism are a separate issue.)  Whether Sheen seizes the comeback opportunity is an open question. But he should get one.

The talent show:

Sure, you can mock the "I wasn't even trying" quip Sheen made to "20/20" about his early acting roles. But long before he bolstered a prime-time sitcom by playing a thinly disguised version of himself, Charlie Sheen had some promising film roles, including "Wall Street" and "Platoon." In fact, stack Sheen's early-career filmography against Downey's (best known in that era for "Less Than Zero" and "Chaplin") and the actor formerly known as Carlos Estevez probably comes out on top.

Producer push:
Right now, Sheen must seem like plutonium to anyone casting a movie, not least because of the insurance issue. Lindsay Lohan could probably get bonded more easily. But solve that conundrum and producers could make a case. Putting Sheen in a movie gets you instant attention that even millions of dollars in marketing couldn't buy. And sure, there's the distraction factor -- but the actor by most   accounts showed up for work on "Two and a Half Men" no matter how hard he was partying the night before. What's more, unlike TV, you wouldn't need a major commitment from Sheen to cast him -- just his willingness to step up for a few months of shooting and promotion.

Cash grab:
Sheen's got plenty in the bank now. But unless Mark Cuban pays him Dirk Nowitzki money to appear on HDNet, he'll will need some cash at some point in the next few years. And celebrities have a strange way of straightening out when their bank accounts are on the line.

Public platform:
Downey fought his way back to respectability the old-fashioned way -- semi-privately and with a steady diet of film roles. Sheen has far more potent and fast-acting tools at his disposal. As much as Twitter and the 24-hour news cycle have sped up and made public the actor's unraveling, they can also hasten his return, if and when he chooses to make one.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Rebooting Charlie Sheen: His famous roles, through a 2011 prism

Has anyone ever out-Sheened Charlie Sheen?

Critic's Notebook: Charlie Sheen's last straw

Photo: Charlie Sheen leaving a Colorado courthouse last summer. Credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters


Rebooting Charlie Sheen: His famous roles, through a 2011 prism

March 4, 2011 |  7:44 pm


Before he became a circus act, late-night punchline and beacon of self-parody, Charlie Sheen was actually a pretty good actor. He thinks so, too, reminding us on "20/20" this week that, “Guys, IMDB, right there, 62 movies and a ton of success. Come on, bro, I won Best Picture at 20. I wasn’t even trying."

And indeed, he's had a number of acclaimed hits over years. But Hollywood always loves a good reboot, which makes us wonder how some of the movies would look if Charlie Sheen circa 2011 tackled them. We went to IMDB and did a little revisionist fiddling.

"Major League"
A new owner has taken over the Cleveland Indians, but a talented young pitcher with a mean fastball and poor eyesight doesn't like him. The pitcher calls the owner names in a postgame press conference and refuses to take the mound unless he's paid $3 million per pitch. The team goes on to lose 12 games in a row, but the pitcher utters the word "winning" every five seconds anyway.

A young recruit in Vietnam is blamed for the injuries of a wounded soldier. It looks like the soldier will bleed out, but fortunately a passing tiger is able to provide his blood, and a transfusion is performed. The recruit nurses the soldier back to health, and in a climactic battlefield speech, he tells the soldier that dying is for fools and amateurs. Then the two bang 7-gram rocks.

"Wall Street"
A corporate raider takes a young stockbroker under his wing. Friction soon develops, however, when the broker tires of pretending he's not special, so the broker cooperates with the Feds to defeat his mentor. In the final scene, the broker tells off the raider, saying he has converted his tin-can stocks into gold and has improved his skill at a pace that the raider's unevolved mind cannot process.

"Young Guns"
A fight between rival ranchers in the late 19th century results in the formation of a group of outlaws, who create havoc as they go on the lam. Their violent rampage is abruptly halted, however, when one of the outlaws is unable to go more than two hours without giving an interview.

"Hot Shots"
A Navy pilot is brought out of retirement for a secret mission. It appears to be going well until it's revealed the the commander is a Vatican assassin warlock who wants the pilot to sabotage the operation. It turns out not to matter, though, when the pilot joins Twitter and get his own satellite radio show.


Has anyone ever Out-Sheened Charlie Sheen?

Charlie Sheen steps up fights with public tirades 

Critics Notebook: Charlie Sheen's last straw

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Charlie sheen in "Hot Shots." Credit: 20th Century Fox


Has anyone ever out-Sheened Charlie Sheen?

February 24, 2011 |  8:34 pm


Yes, Charlie Sheen, you set the bar pretty high for actors badmouthing their directors or creators when you called "Two and a Half Men" show runner Chuck Lorre a "clown," a "charlatan" and a man with an "un-evolved mind" Thursday, after Lorre joked recently in a title card that he'd be upset if you outlived him.

But the actor is hardly the first star to bite the hand that feeds. (We don't count Mel Gibson, who has offended many, but, wisely, not a director he's worked with, at least not by name.) Below, some of the other incidents in recent memory that give Sheen versus Lorre a run for their money. Feel free to write in with others we've forgotten, and thoughts on His Sheen-ness himself.

Megan Fox vs. Michael Bay
Fox has fallen ill with foot-in-mouth disease multiple times. One instance had the former "Transformers" star telling Entertainment Weekly that working with Bay is "not about an acting experience" and, in a magazine called Wonderland, compared Bay to Hitler on set. Not the smartest thing to do when Bay is a) responsible for your career and b) could replace you and cut off your big payday, which he wound up doing with the next "Transformers". Bay replied by telling the Wall Street Journal, "Nobody in the world knew about Megan Fox until I found her and put her in 'Transformers.'" Coolly handled, though we're still waiting for a Decepticon to be called the Megan in this summer's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Sumner Redstone vs. Tom Cruise
The mogul didn't mince words in the summer of 2006 when he ended Cruise's Paramount production deal with comments to Vanity Fair that the actor, who was not far removed from the Matt Lauer and Oprah couch-jumping incidents, was "embarrassing the studio. And he was costing us a lot of money.... He turned off all women, and a lot of men." The two since patched things up. But there's still promotion for the new "Mission: Impossible" to get through.

Kevin Smith vs. Bruce Willis
The ball-cap-wearing director is known for his brutal honesty . He had harsh words for Linda Fiorentino earlier in his career, and last year spared Willis little quarter while promoting their movie "Cop Out." "It was difficult. I’ve never been involved in a situation like that where one component is not in the box at all. It was ... soul crushing," Smith said on Marc Maron's podcast of his working relationship with Willis. "I had no ... help from this dude whatsoever." Smith's diss was tempered by the fact that he praised Tracy Morgan in the same interview. Willis was silent.

Shia LaBeouf vs. Steven Spielberg
LaBeouf set off a mini-firestorm when he dissed Spielberg to about a dozen reporters, a group of which we were a part, at the Cannes Film Festival last year after we asked him what he thought of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" two years removed. He called the movie a four-letter synonym for excrement, then said, "There was a reason it wasn't universally accepted." He added, "When you drop the ball you drop the ball." Not so smart, but there was something honest about LaBeouf's manner that made it less stinging than it played back home. Plus some fans kind of agreed.


Shia LaBeouf: We botched the last Indiana Jones

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Charlie Sheen leaves a Colorado courthouse this summer. Credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters


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