It's hard to believe that Charlie Sheen is about to star in another television show. It's hard to believe that roughly one year after he was fired (1) from an immensely popular and insanely lucrative role on "Two and a Half Men". It's hard to believe that Charlie Sheen is still alive.
And yet there he was, vigorous looking if still wild eyed, calmly unwinding (2) beneath a tent outside the remote Sun Valley studio here, where he was shooting his new FX series, "Anger Management," having finished a full day's work on its 10th episode.
On his nearby tour bus, a celebratory Sheen in the company of his publicist, Larry Solters; his social-media manager/hanger-outer, Bob Maron, had been explaining why he considers himself a retired (not a recovering) gambler (3); and why, despite his history of substance abuse, rehabilitation and relapses, he should not have to provide his newest employers with any assurances of his continued health.
"Then they shouldn't have hired me," he said with a laugh, repeating the line and swearing for emphasis. "They knew what they were getting. And they know it's not always going to be easy." There are many compelling reasons Sheen should want "Anger Management," which began in the US on June 28, to succeed without incident, and not just because he owns a portion of the show. It is his chance to restore his legacy after his troubled exit from "Two and a Half Men" - his last chance, if the new show is to be, as he vows (4) , the " swan song (5) " to his acting career.
But there is an unpredictable and uneasy energy to being around Sheen for even a short while; you are never sure if you're his new best friend, his audience or his hostage. The experience is like being in that remote village his father, Martin Sheen, reaches in "Apocalypse Now," where a madman rules over followers who worship him unquestioningly. Everyone around Charlie Sheen listens to what he has to say, but who is he listening to?
This workday was remarkable for Sheen because it proceeded unremarkably, like any other at sitcoms shot throughout the city. He arrived around 9:30 a.m, joining his cast mates (6) to read through the script. Over the next 12 hours he shot six or seven scenes, all focusing on his character, Charlie Goodson, and some opposite Martin Sheen, who has a guest role as Charlie's estranged father.
"Anger Management," loosely adapted from the 2003 movie with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, casts Charlie Sheen as a once-promising baseball player who, in a tantrum (7) , tried to break a bat over his leg and instead broke his knee, forcing him out of the game. Now he works as a therapist, counseling (8) a misfit group of patients while trying to maintain a healthy relationship with his ex-wife (Shawnee Smith) and their teenage daughter (Daniela Bobadilla) and occasionally getting intimate with his own therapist (Selma Blair). Sheen said it was important to him that the series have "a theme of atonement (9)". "A lot of people were supporting him, and he ended his career with his own anger."
And Sheen knows he has plenty to atone for. After a 15-month span in which he was arrested for assaulting his wife at the time, Brooke Mueller, and ejected from a ransacked (10) Plaza Hotel suite after what his publicist said was "an adverse allergic reaction to some medication," he was fired in March 2011 from "Two and a Half Men," the hit CBS sitcom he had starred on since 2003. His dismissal (11) ended with a declaration from Warner Brothers Television, which produces "Two and a Half Men," that Sheen's conduct had become "dangerously self-destructive."
A substance-abuse spiral followed, and Sheen was urged to enter Alcoholics Anonymous, which the actor made clear he would not do, even though AA meetings were held at the studio. The AA manual, Sheen said, "was written by a drunk who was a plagiarist and took acid and" had sex with "everybody's wife." ("It's true, dude," he added. "Sorry.")
Mark Burg, Sheen's manager since the 1990s, said that though he feared Sheen could be harming his career, he had to let the situation resolve itself. "He was acting out," Burg said, " but eventually the dust settles (12). I had to let himdo his thing, and sooner or later we'd get together and be like, 'All right, what next?"'
When he found himself available, a deal was struck for the independent studio Lionsgate to produce 10 episodes of "Anger Management" and show them on FX. If these installments meet certain ratings benchmarks, which none of the parties would disclose, then 90 more episodes of the series will be produced.
Finding performers willing (13) to appear with Sheen in "Anger Management" was apparently no challenge. Smith, his co-star, said that she lived "in a hole with three kids" and was unaware of Sheen's misdeeds (14) when she was offered an audition. As she recalled, "I saw Charlie, and I said, 'Oh, Father, please give me this prayer"' that she be cast. Blair, who in July gave birth to her first child, said she was "pregnant, so I was in my own world" when Sheen was visibly unraveling. "To me it was a huge study in performance art," she said.
As Martin Sheen spoke by phone a few weeks after filming his "Anger Management" episode, it was clear that Charlie's public meltdown (15) and his reaction to it were still tender subjects. "You can imagine how I felt," Martin Sheen said, adding that "we were very concerned, but we had to let it play out." He recalled Charlie as a talented young baseball pitcher with his eyes on the major leagues until early acting successes like "Red Dawn" and "Platoon" set him on a different course. With pride he noted that Charlie's brother Ramon Estevez is a producer on "Anger Management" and his sister, Renee Estevez, is a writer on the show. "He certainly does not need my approval, but he chooses my company, and that is very satisfying," Martin Sheen said. "He's nurtured (16) and loved and cherished by all of us. We're very gratified that he's included us in this new project."
Under his tent Charlie Sheen was adamant (17) that he did not need to be subjected to drug tests while working on the show. "It's an invasion of privacy, man, a total invasion of privacy," he said. (Maron added that Sheen had passed random drug tests during his live tour, "and at a certain point, he just said, 'Enough."') Asked if he felt he could remain clean going forward, Sheen replied, "I don't know what clean is."
He was confident that his fans would follow him to "Anger Management" and had forgiven him not only for his meltdown but also for the threats of violence he had made against Mueller as well as a previous wife, Denise Richards, whom he divorced in 2006.
"I'm making those situations right again," he said of his ex-wives. Sheen seemed certain that when he finished "Anger Management," he would move on from acting and his life would be "about soccer games and amusement parks" with his daughters, Sam, 8, and Lola, 7, by Richards, and twin sons, Bob and Max, 3, by Mueller. (Sheen also has a 27-year-old daughter, Cassandra, from a previous relationship.)
When Sheen was asked what he would do after "Anger Management," Maron mimed pointing a gun to his own head and pulling the trigger (18). But Sheen said it would be simple to walk away from acting, and even easier to shed a celebrity status that he did not perceive. "Inside here," he said, "regardless of what the persona may be, I'm still the 7-year-old kid in the back of the class, afraid to raise his hand. I don't want this - all of this - to extinguish that child, because it can, and I refuse to grow up."
1. to fire: acomiadar
2. to unwind: relaxar
3. gambler: jugador
4. to vow: prometre
5. swan song: cant del cigne
6. cast mates: companys de repartiment
7. tantrum: enrabiada
8. to counsel: donar consell
9. atonement: expiació
10. to ransack: saquejar
11. dismissal: acomiadament
12. eventually the dust settles: finalment tot es calma
13. willing: disposat
14. misdeed: malifeta
15. meltdown: crisi
16. to nurture: nodrir
17. adamant: totalment segur
18. trigger: gallet
Find the following words in the glossary.
1. uncontrolled anger of a child
2. to promise
3. somebody who bets money
4. absolutely certain
5. prepared/disposed to do something
6. to relax after a hard day
7. to tell somebody they have lost their job
8. the part of a pistol which fires it.
Complete these sentences adapted from the text with the correct preposition.
1. I don't want to stop being a child - I refuse to grow _______.
2. He shot seven scenes, all focusing _______ his character.
3. The series wasn't shown _______ Fox TV.
4. The character was forced _______ of baseball after he broke his knee.
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