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Charlie Sheen is picking the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series, obviously.
Ever since he played Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the 1989 hit Major League, the 51-year-old actor has had a soft spot for the Cleveland team and its fans. And they love him back, many pushing for the former Two and a Half Men star to throw out the first pitch for the Fall Classic, an honor that ultimately went to former Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton.
Now, Sheen, who rarely grants interviews, is catching up with The Hollywood Reporter from his home in Los Angeles to talk baseball, a possible new R-rated Major League film and his health.
“What a freaking game!” Sheen begins, discussing Cleveland’s dominance during their shutout performance in game one of the World Series on Tuesday. “If you look at what Cleveland has done in the post-season so far, it’s incredible; to sweep Boston, beat Toronto in five [games] and then last night’s ass-whooping.”
Sheen is a lifelong, die-hard Cincinnati Reds fan (his mother was born there), but the Cleveland Indians — which last won a World Series in 1948 — are a close second, and that’s why he is so disappointed he didn’t get to throw that first pitch.
“I had this crazy fantasy that they would play that [“Wild Thing” by The Troggs] song, the bullpen door would open, and I would do that long walk, which I think would have put that place on its freaking ear,” says Sheen. “It kind of felt like Major League Baseball let its fans down — and that’s not a shot at Lofton or anybody.”
The actor added that he didn’t want to “ruin any surprises,” but he would definitely attend a game if invited. Still, all the commotion around that first pitch — which the Indians had to clarify for upset fans was not a decision that was up to the team — led to another offer, says Sheen.
“ESPN invited me to do some in-game stuff and some post-game stuff after they found out I wasn’t going to throw out the first pitch,” he says, adding that he passed. “I was honored by that, but it would have felt like I was there after the fact.”
Of all the films he has made, Major League — but not so much the PG-13 sequel (“I was pretty drunk both times I saw it just to ease the pain”) — has resonated with fans the most. In fact, Sheen stopped attending ball games because he would be bombarded by autograph seekers and couldn’t watch the action.
“There are some people in and around baseball who think the excitement from the movie found its way into the actual Cleveland franchise. I don’t think that’s too far-fetched to say,” he says, pointing out that closing pitchers didn’t have intro songs until his character did in Major League.
Now, it’s time for a new film in the franchise, Sheen says. And not just any film — certainly not one like the poorly received 1994 sequel, which he did star in, and the even worse Major League: Back to the Minors (1998), which only featured two original castmembers — but a quality product.
“David Ward [who wrote and directed Major League] wrote the script for Major League 3, which is as good as the first one,” says Sheen. “ML3 has as much heart, as much comedy as the original.” Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen and Wesley Snipes, among others from the first film, are on board, according to Sheen.
“We have been trying to get it done for a few years,” he says. “There have been some hang-ups with the rights.”
The film will be rated R, like the original movie, and would “bookend” the series the proper way, Sheen says, before going into the premise: “You find the Vaughn character selling cars and his arm is so shot that if you buy a car from him, he’ll play catch with your kid in the parking lot. And then there is an ex who shows up, who he had a tryst with a couple decades ago, and she has a twentysomething kid, who is now in the Cleveland organization, throwing about 102 mph. So, the story pretty much focuses on that. The kid does not like me. We do not like each other. It bookends our story, but it also passes the torch.”
Morgan Creek Productions owns the rights to the film and so far, nothing has come to fruition, which has frustrated Sheen.
“I would love to do it with Morgan Creek, who owns the rights, but if they don’t want to do it, then I am sure there is a way that they could be involved and everybody wins,” he says. “The script that we’ve all been sitting on is pure gold and absolutely shootable. It’s David Ward at his best. I mean, this is the guy who won the Oscar for writing The Sting. We could be in preproduction tomorrow.”
Sheen, who revealed last November that he contracted the HIV virus, says he feels “excellent” and is ready for the project.
“I am part of an FDA study right now, which I have been involved with for 24 weeks, and there is a new drug that is on the fast track for FDA approval ” Sheen says, candidly. “It’s called PRO 140 and the company is Cytodyn. It’s a global game-changer. There are no side effects. None. It is one shot every week, instead of a handful of toxic pills every day. It is the closet thing to a cure that we could possibly have right now. You can live a completely normal life. You can self-administer. The other shit, it kept me alive, sure, but it had hideous side effects — migraines, stomach problems, liver damage. But this stuff is the future of treatment for this condition, and I am excited as hell to be a part of it. I don’t mind talking about that at all because it is going to give a lot of people hope and something to look forward to and really wrap their arms around it.”
While reminiscing about the first Major League film, Sheen shared some behind-the-scenes stories.
“There were these exploding baseballs, full of chalk, and there is this moment when [former Major League catcher] Steve Yeager, who plays a coach, was trying to teach Wesley [Snipes] a couple of things about how to look like a hitter,” relates Sheen. “And Chelcie Ross, who played [starting pitcher] Harris, mixed in one of those exploding baseballs. I don’t think Yeager has ever hit a ball harder — and he suddenly vanished into a fog bank. He came out of it laughing his ass off.”
As for the actor playing a pitcher, he was a natural having played the game growing up, much to the delight of Ward, he says.
“I pitched in high school and went to a baseball camp out in Miller, Missouri, for three summers in a row,” says Sheen. “I had decent mechanics. I could locate really well and somehow develop a knuckleball. But then I start auditioning [for acting jobs], so I decided to hang up the cleats.”
Although he couldn’t throw as fast as his Vaughn character, Sheen still had some heat, he says.
“There were a couple of days [on set] where I got up to 85 mph, which is not terrible,” says the actor. “And the first time David [Ward] saw me throwing at the spring training stuff, he said, ‘Oh yeah, I can make it look like 100 mph. No problem.’ They used angles and editing. But he was really happy he could show me full figure. He could show the entire windup. If you notice in some baseball films, when they show the pitcher, they only show him mid-windup, because he doesn’t have a clue.”
As for the iconic scene when Vaughn walks in to save the day at the climax of the film, it wasn’t nearly as raucous a sold-out stadium as it appears on camera.
“That was at about four in the morning,” Sheen recalls. “We had about 30 extras left, and that was one of the last shots of the night in basically an empty stadium. The grass was set, I was exhausted and all I could think was, ‘Don’t trip.'”
Up next for the actor is the Crackle comedy Mad Families, in which he will star and executive produce. Also starring in the film are Leah Remini, Finesse Mitchell, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Charlotte McKinney and Naya Rivera. Sheen, who is repped by APA, also stars opposite Whoopi Goldberg in Nine Eleven, an action-drama about five people trapped in a World Trade Center elevator on Sept. 11.
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