Charlie Sheen says he’s not insane any more.
Instead, these are good days for the Anger Management star, he declares, with his sitcom half-way through its initial 10-episode run and poised to get an order for 90 more.
Sheen told reporters on Saturday that the prospect of continuing is as “exciting as hell”, and added cheerily, “I don’t think 90’s gonna be enough.”
With the expected pickup, FX plans to bring aboard Sheen’s dad, Martin Sheen, as a recurring cast member. He will play the father of Charlie Goodson, the anger-management therapist played by Charlie Sheen. The veteran movie actor, who also played President Jed Bartlet on the drama series The West Wing, is guest-starring on an Anger Management episode that airs in the US on August 16.
“I think that was the best episode we did,” his son said.
Adding Sheen’s father to the series “will give an extra dimension and make it a multi-generational family show”, FX boss John Landgraf said in making the announcement.
The production schedule would call for filming a total of 100 episodes in just two years. This kind of cost-saving routine means no time for rehearsals, said executive producer Bruce Helford.
“The actors get the lines, we see the scene, the writers make changes, the actors go to make-up, cameras are blocked, we come back together and shoot the scene,” he explained.
At first, the cast members “felt like basically they were on the ledge”.
“But by the third episode, everyone found the characters to the point that the writers were following their lead,” Helford said.
“I feel like how we started, we just scratched the surface — barely,” said Sheen, who arrived for his appearance at the Television Critics Association session clad in Bermuda shorts, a long-sleeve shirt and loafers without socks.
He likened his tumultuous departure from Two and a Half Men and the stormy aftermath last year to a dream he couldn’t wake up from. Or like “a train I couldn’t get off of, except that I was the conductor”, he added, speaking in quick bursts and fidgeting in his chair.
He said he learned a lot from that period, including “stick to what you know”. Referring to his disastrous My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option tour in spring 2011, he got laughs from the group when he advised, “Don’t go on the road with a one-man show in 21 cities without an act.”
He summed up: “I’m not insane anymore.”
What’s different now from Sheen’s angry stretch on Men, characterised by his much-publicised clashes with series creator Chuck Lorre?
Helford weighed in with a theory. On Men, he ventured, “Charlie didn’t really have a voice with creative input. It wasn’t built that way.”
On Anger Management, Helford said he’s forged a partnership with his star.
“We built this together,” he said. “And when Charlie’s on the stage, that’s his stage. When you feel that, your creative juices are flowing, everything is better for you, because you have a say in what you’re doing.
“When you don’t control your destiny, things get screwed up in your head,” he said as Sheen nodded.
On Anger Management, Charlie Goodson thrives on chaos. Sheen was asked if he does, too, or if he longs for a simpler life.
“I can wish every minute for a simple life. It’s not gonna happen,” Sheen replied. “But I don’t really look at it as chaos. I look at it as challenges.”