To say it's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Charlie Sheen over the last 30 years would be an understatement. It's hard to believe now that the wild-eyed, conspiracy theory-spouting, tiger blood-drinking maniac who shocked the world with his bad boy antics back in 2014 was once the toast of Tinsel Town after turning in critically-acclaimed performances in movies such as 'Red Dawn', 'Platoon' and 'Wall Street'. Once the highest paid actor on American television, Sheen's fall from grace was spectacular. His subsequent public reveal that he was HIV+ didn't exactly come as a surprise to fans who had witnessed his very public downfall, but it did go some way to winning back some much-needed sympathy and offered an explanation for his astonishing meltdown.
Charlie Sheen was born in New York City. The youngest son of the West Wing actor Martin Sheen and his artist wife Janet Templeton, Sheen was christened Carlos Estevez. ‘Martin Sheen’ is just a stage name. Sheen’s real name is Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez, and all but Charlie have kept their father’s surname as their professional names.
Charlie is the youngest of the Sheen’s four children. He has two elder brothers, the Young Guns actor turned director, Emilio Estevez and the actor, Ramon. He also has a sister, the actress Renee Estevez.
In the early ’70s, Martin Sheen moved his young family to Malibu in California after landing the part in the stage play The Subject Was Roses. Carlos attended Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California alongside Robert Downey Jnr. and his childhood friends, the actors Sean Penn and Rob Lowe.
In his teens, Sheen was a keen baseball player, and it was thought that he would most likely go to university on a baseball scholarship after graduating from high school. He also developed an interest in acting when himself, Penn, and Lowe started making Super 8 home movies together. His first taste of the big screen was a brief appearance in 1974’s The Execution of Private Slovik, which starred his father, Ned Beatty and Gary Busey.
Sheen was expelled from Santa Monica High School for poor attendance and bad grades. As a result, any hopes of a baseball scholarship were dashed, and the young Carlos decided he decided to study acting instead. He took the stage name Charlie Sheen in honor of his father.
Sheen began his acting career in the explosive 1984 action thriller, Red Dawn alongside Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Garner. This led to him being cast alongside Garner in a cameo appearance in the smash teen comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Following these performances, it wasn’t long before Sheen was noticed by Oliver Stone, who cast him in the harrowing 1986 Vietnam War drama, Platoon. Sheen’s performance as fresh-faced soldier Chris Taylor was widely praised by critics. His performance in the following year’s Wall Street, where he starred alongside his father Michael and another famous son of a famous actor, Michael Douglas, was also enthusiastically received.
After being passed over for the lead role in Stone’s Born On The Fourth Of July, Sheen was cast alongside his brother Emilio in the blockbuster western Young Guns. A retelling of the Billy the Kid legend, the movie was a domestic and international success. Sheen followed up his role in Young Guns with appearances in the 1990 Clint Eastwood buddy cop movie The Rookie. He also made multiple appearances in the Major League and Hot Shots! comedy franchises. The work for this promising young actor, however, was starting to dry up.
As his movie career began to wane in the late ’90s, Sheen turned to television. He replaced Michael J. Fox for the final two seasons of Sin City after Fox dropped out due to his Parkinson’s disease. Sheen was lauded for his performance in the show, and his work earned him two ALMA nominations and his first Golden Globe win for Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
After Spin City ended in 2002, Sheen was offered what would become his most famous role as the womanizing Charlie Harper in Two And A Half Men. The show was a smash hit, earning huge ratings and earning Sheen an ALMA award, three Emmy Nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.
Sheen would star in Two And A Half Men for eight years. It was one of the most popular comedy shows on U.S. Television, and by Sheen’s eighth and final season, the actor was being paid an eye-watering $1.8 million per episode, making Sheen the highest-paid TV actor in the country.
In 2011, CBS announced that the show was being put on hiatus before the final four episodes of the eighth season could be made. It later emerged that Sheen had gone into rehab. CBS took the decision to cancel the final four episodes after Sheen made several disparaging remarks about the show’s producer, Chuck Lorre. It was the beginning of a very public meltdown.
Following further remarks (including a demand to double his salary from an already eye-popping $1.8 million per episode) CBS and the company’s holding company Warner Brothers decided to cancel Sheen’s contract, ending his tenure on Two And A Half Men. The actor responded badly to being given the push, and lurched into several months’ worth of bizarre behavior.
In a series of television interviews, YouTube videos and Twitter posts, Sheen lost the plot. Railing on his former employers, making bizarre claims of having ‘Adonis DNA’ and ‘tiger blood’ running through his veins, posting videos and pictures of himself cavorting with adult film stars and taking drugs; Sheen’s meltdown had the world hooked. It was clear the actor needed help, and luckily, he got it.
After another stint in rehab, Sheen reemerged in 2012 to star in Anger Management. Despite Sheen’s very public meltdown, the show was a modest success and the actor went on to star in 100 episodes before its eventual cancellation in 2014. During his time on Anger Management, Sheen also took on several small movie roles, including starring as the President of the United States in Machete Kills. In honor of the movie’s Spanish roots, Sheen was billed under his real name of Carlos Estevez – the only time he has ever been credited this way.
In 2015 Sheen admitted to Piers Morgan that he had been diagnosed as HIV+ in 2011. Many speculate that this may be what lay behind his very public breakdown. He continues to make movies despite his personal ups and downs, and as we head into 2017, his career and his life appear to be back on track, for now.
With his conventional good looks, Sheen fitted perfectly into the role of the clean-cut, all-American ‘every-man’ both on screen and off. Sheen was perfect for his role as the naive young soldier in Oliver Stone’s brutal Vietnam war epic, Platoon. This image was cultivated further in the public’s mind with roles as the gullible Bud Fox in Wall Street and Dick Brewer in 1988’s Young Guns.
Never as big a box office draw as contemporaries such as Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jnr. or Patrick Swayze, Sheen was still able to carve out a successful movie career thanks to an audience perception that he was a straight-laced, wholesome kind of guy. Hence, when it came to casting a new Three Musketeers movie for the 1990s generation, Sheen was called upon to play the deeply religious Aramis.
However, if audience perception of Sheen was that of a straight-up guy, his real life started to become anything but cool, calm and collected as his fame grew. Sheen became a heavy user of drugs and drink in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, his drug use was completely out of control, culminating in the actor suffering a stroke in 1998 at the age of just 33. The actor was found comatose in his beach-side apartment by a friend after Sheen injected cocaine directly into his bloodstream and overdosed. After a stint in hospital, Sheen entered rehab, but fled soon after, pursued by the police. He was forced back into rehab and put on probation by the court for a year. It would not be his last time in rehab.
Sheen began to fade from public notice as the 1990s drew to a close. Like a lot of actors from the 1980s and ’90s, his star started to wane as the new millennium dawned. However, a move into television at a time when it was seen as career suicide turned out to be exactly the right move to make.
Drawing on what was now firmly ensconced in the public’s mind as his bad boy image, Sheen was able to bring a lot of himself to his signature role in Two And A Half Men, and audiences loved him for it. However, nobody could have foreseen how the fame, fortune, pressure and possible knowledge that his health was failing would eventually lead to a very public nervous breakdown.
Sheen’s 2011 meltdown has passed into the stuff of legend. Cavorting with adult movie stars, taking huge quantities of drugs and making wild and outlandish claims that he had tiger blood running through his veins and ‘Adonis DNA’ made Sheen the number one talking point on social media and made him front page news all over the world. For a while, people were placing bets that he would not be alive by the end of 2011.
However, Sheen was able to drag himself out of the hell he had created for himself. Despite losing his lucrative sitcom role, he had gained a new audience of younger people (mainly young men) who had warmed to this roguish hell-raiser with a glint in his eye. Sheen took the story of his 2011 breakdown on the road, doing two live shows called ‘My Violent Torpedo Of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option’ to generally favorable reviews.
Sheen continued to rebuild his shattered career and limit the damage to his tarnished reputation with his successful stint in the sitcom Anger Management, and was keen to show he didn’t mind laughing at himself by agreeing to be the subject of a Comedy Central roast in September 2011.
His decision to reveal his 2011 diagnosis of HIV in 2015 went some way to explaining his behavior and earned him a fair amount of public sympathy, especially when the actor revealed he had spent over $10 million fighting off blackmailers who had threatened to reveal his secret.
Once seen as the most potent symbol of Hollywood excess, Charlie Sheen entered the second half of the 2010s being seen more as a victim of the system than a villain.
Charlie Sheen has led just as colorful a personal life as he has a public one. He has – to date – been married three times, and has five children and one grandchild.
Sheen’s relationships can best be described as ‘turbulent’. His first child, Cassandra Jade Estevez, was born in 1984. She was the daughter of Sheen’s high school sweetheart, though the pair never married.
Throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, Sheen dated a string of actresses, adult movie stars and models. His heavy drug use and chaotic lifestyle meant not many of these relationships lasted particularly long. For example, he managed to accidentally shoot his fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm in 1990, leading her to break off their engagement.
Sheen married for the first time in 1995 to the actress Donna Peele. In true Sheen style, he was very quickly named as one of the clients of the notorious Hollywood madame, Heidi Fleiss. The couple split in 1996.
Sheen met former Bond girl Demise Richards on the set of their 2000 movie Good Advice. They began dating in 2001 and married in 2002. They had two children together, Sam J Sheen and Lola Rose Sheen. It was a stormy relationship, with Richards eventually filing for divorce in 2005 citing Sheen’s drug use and a string of violent threats the actor had made towards her throughout the course of their rocky, four-year relationship.
Sheen next married actress Brooke Mueller in 2008. The pair went on to have two sons, Bob and Max. The relationship was again a stormy one, leading to Sheen being arrested and charged with assaulting his wife in 2010. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to attend rehab and a course in anger management. The pair split in 2010 and divorced in 2011.
During Sheen’s infamous public meltdown, he was cohabiting with pornographic actress Bree Olsen and graphic designer Natalie Kenly. He called these women his ‘goddesses’, and made several videos with them. Both would leave him the troubled star before the year was out.
In February 2014, Sheen announced his intention to marry former adult movie actress Brett Rossi. True to form, the pair had broken off their engagement by October of that year, with Sheen stating that he had decided to focus his attention on his children.
Sheen was last rumored to be dating British model Jess Impiazzi.
Written by: Ben Perry