Martin Sheen Felt "Powerless" During Son Charlie's Public Meltdown


"What he was going through at that time, we were powerless to do much. Except to pray for him and lift him up," he said.

Martin Sheen said he felt "powerless" during his son Charlie's very public meltdown in 2011, revealing that all he and the family could do was "pray for him and lift him up."

In a frank interview with the Radio Times, Sheen discussed his son's unraveling that led to him being fired from hit show Two and a Half Men, numerous public outbursts and calamitous one-man show My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option.

The West Wing star said he did not see the live show but could only look on as everything played out publicly and painfully. "What he was going through at that time, we were powerless to do much. Except to pray for him and lift him up," he said. "You try to be as present as possible. But you have to be aware of the circumstances. You have to be aware of many things that the public is not aware of." 

Sheen added: "Only those of us that knew him understood what was going on. I'm talking about steroids, at that time. He was in a very desperate situation. And he was doing what he felt would get him out of it – going public. And it was very painful. No less painful for him."

The elder Sheen has struggled with addiction, too, notoriously suffering a heart attack brought on by his heavy drinking on the set of Apocalypse Now in 1977, and his experience of being sober for almost 30 years has helped him in the way he has supported Charlie. "You can assure them you're there and you love them, but you cannot effect change. That's your ego, for the most part. You pray for a moment of clarity, you trust in a higher power and you never, ever give up hope. Because that is a measure of despair."

Sheen also discussed working with Charlie on the FX show Anger Management, which was billed as the younger Sheen's comeback as one TV's biggest stars but suffered scathing reviews and ended at the end of 2014. "Anger Management didn't set the bar that high.... I was delighted to work with Charlie – I adore him, and he asked me to do it. But we all knew that it was pulled together very quickly to get Charlie [involved] rather than to have a more interesting theme. It was too surface."

Sheen is currently starring in the Netflix original show Grace and Frankie, which also stars Jane FondaSam Waterston and Lily Tomlin and is written by Marta Kaufman.