TCA: Charlie Sheen Begins Casting 'Anger Management'
“I just didn’t want [Two and a Half Men] to be my television legacy. I wanted to do something that ended better. “
That was Charlie Sheen’s response when this reporter asked why after nearly a decade and a tumultuous exit from the CBS comedy, he is now throwing himself back into the primetime grind. And a grind it will be: while Sheen’s next effort, comedy Anger Management, will air on FX, it won't have anything resembling a cable schedule. Instead, the series, which is set to start production in March, will be greenlit for a jaw-dropping 100 episodes assuming the first 10 hit a certain undisclosed ratings threshold. The comedy is likely to be paired with Men repeats in the network's Thursday 9 p.m hour this summer, providing a lead-in to half-hours such as Wiflred and Louie.
Both Sheen and Management showrunner Bruce Helford confirmed Sunday at a Television Critics Association event that they will begin seeing actresses this week, but were tight-lipped about who is on what Sheen calls the “fantasy list and the A list.” The two lead roles yet to be cast belong to Sheen’s therapist and his ex-wife, according to Helford. “They’re in their late 30s to mid 40s,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter of the roles, adding: “So it will probably be someone who had experience and that you’ll know."
Among the other roles parts that still need to be filled in the coming weeks are that of Sheen's 13-year-old daughter and his two groups of anger management patients, both a traditional therapy group and one in prison. (To have a group of inmates as patients was Sheen's idea.) “Everyone in the world calls to say they want to do that show,” says Helford of the interest the project has sparked within the talent community. “Everyone wants to come in and play a therapy patient.”
As for Sheen’s character, Helford insists it will be “considerably more complex” part than any of the others the actor has played in the past. "I just wanted to do a show and play a character that dealt with more mature themes and stuff that actually exists in the real world," Sheen tells THR. "A lot of times on the other show I felt like we were servicing the comedy and not allowing it to come out of character situations."
The freedom that cable, in particular, allows is viewed as a strong advantage to both Sheen and Helford, who are eager to explore a character who they claim is deeply conflicted. Working in the actor's favor is his own experience as well, although Helford is careful to note that he is not in any way playing a version of himself. "I spent a year in anger management, so I’ve already done my research," says Sheen, laughing as he shifts between serious and self-deprictating with the ease of a pro.
These days, Sheen insists he's signficantly mellower, spending much of his time with his family and getting back into work mode now. "I'm not crazy anymore," he says, before being forced to field a question about the performance of his Men replacement Ashton Kutcher. "I think he's doing a great job," he adds, "[but] it's a different show."
Sheen goes on to call the moment in Men's premiere episode where his character's ashes are thrust from the urn and Kutcher's is revealed "one of the great television moments of all time." Of course, if Sheen were at the helm, he says the episode would have ended right there as opposed to continue as it did. But that kind of input was not something he ever had at Men, and something he's thrilled to have on his next comedy. "I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and its nice to finally be in a situation where the people that I’m working with are excited about my input," he says, noting: "That wasn’t the case for a long time."