Martin Sheen on TV Violence: "There's So Little Children Can See"

David Alexanian/Arc Entertainment

The 'Grace & Frankie' star talks with THR about the impact dramatized violence has on young audiences.

Hollywood actor and political activist Martin Sheen says there's too much violence on TV, and too little "wholesome" family-friendly shows.

"There's so much violence on television these days, and there's so little that children can see, pre-teens particularly," Sheen, who is starring in Grace & Frankie for Netflix, told the Hollywood Reporter. "And there's little wholesome children's entertainment, and so much cynicism and violence and adult-type entertainment for children," he added.

Sheen this summer took time out from Grace & Frankie to play Matthew Cuthbert in Breakthrough Entertainment’s TV movie Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne Of Green Gables, which shot in Canada for YTV. He said the classic kids tale, based on the Anne of Green Gables series of novels, is better suited than adult fare for young viewers.

"I can't think of a better, a more wholesome thing for kids to see, because it really reflects the sensitivity and the ideal kind of childhood story that all young audiences can relate to it," said Sheen. The veteran Hollywood actor, who had a memorable run on Aaron Sorkin's White House drama The West Wing as President Bartlet, performed opposite Ella Ballentine as a young Anne Shirley.

"It was a such a nourishment. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to work with such a wonderful character, this old guy who lived an honest life, but has a deep yearning deep within his spirit to realize his life more fully, and this little girl brought that out," he explained. Sheen plays the shy brother of straight-laced Marilla Cuthbert (Sara Botsford) in the two-hour movie.

The brother and sister on their Prince Edward Island estate Green Gables take in Anne Shirley from an orphanage to serve in their household, and forge a bond that changes their lives forever. "You don't get that many chances to play these parts these days, old guys like me. We're usually confined to playing grandfathers and people who don't have a much of a contribution left to make," he explained.

"But this guy became in a real sense a father to her, and I just couldn't get over the sense of humanity that this piece offered, and that's rare for me," said Sheen.