Host: Piers Morgan
Reviewer: Andy Moseley
Charlie Sheen could almost be a throwback to a bygone era, the devil-may-care actor living a life of whisky and womanising with the occasional bit of acting thrown in for good measure. The supposed nadir of his career, when he was pictured with two porn stars and a seemingly endless amount of drugs and alcohol while proclaiming himself to be ‘winning’ was a ‘where did it all go wrong?’ moment that even surpassed George Best’s similar one four decades earlier, and like Best, there remains a lot of affection for him. He could have been up there with the likes of Richard Burton had he not sacrificed serious roles for comedy and self-parody long before the career sabotage that he either deliberately engineered or was helpless to prevent in 2011.
In an era of clean-cut stars, rehab and super injunctions, Sheen is a reminder of the past. He is also HIV +. Can there be a more interesting guest? As long as he’s soberand willing and able to open up about his life, the answer would have to be no. Thankfully, Sheen was all of this and more in An Evening with Charlie Sheen.
As host, Piers Morgan struck the right balance between probing for deep insight, and encouraging wild and salacious anecdotes without trying to place them in a context of regret or remorse. This was entertainment, not therapy, and both Morgan and Sheen sounded like they wouldn’t want it any other way.
Their conversation inevitably began with Two and a Half Men, the sitcom Sheen earned around $2 million an episode for before he was fired. Sheen is not backwards with giving the reasons that lead to the events that lead to his sacking. He was on the biggest comedy in the world, and he was the only one laughing, everyone else was taking it too seriously. He gets your sympathy with his explanation. When he goes on to say that his last day was the only time he was offered the use of Warner’s private jet, and it was to fly him to rehab – an offer he rejected in favour of rehab at home – it’s clear that he finds as much humour in his life, but is less outraged by it, than any of his critics.
Via anecdotes about growing up, and very touching moments when he talks about his father and his recovery from a heart attack while filming Apocalypse Now, the conversation eventually reached the subject that more recently brought Sheen into the news – the announcement that he’s HIV+. It’s tactfully handled and non-judgmental. Sheen is not making a martyr of himself or begging forgiveness from anyone, he’s honest about what he did and his personal failings, but also won’t deny that along the way he had a hell of a good time and would probably do it all over again. This is what ultimately makes this such a refreshing alternative to the usual celeb confessionals, the remorse and regret is there, but the fun and enthusiasm remain.
Once the main interview was concluded, the microphone was turned over to audience members in what was the only ill-conceived move of the evening. The flow was broken, and we learned little about Sheen as fans asked him to marry them, sleep with them or star in their movies. Only the last question on the subject of cannabis felt like a worthy addition to what had gone before and, in a phrase that has seldom been used, it would have been nicer to hear a bit more from Piers Morgan to round things off
Reviewed on 19 June 2016 | Image: Contributed