Art Stranger Than Life

Charlie Sheen isn't a drug-addicted, porn-loving loser, but he plays one on TV. You call this acting? Sheen is starring in the May 13 Showtime movie "Rated X," a raunchy, dark film about the Mitchell brothers, the hell-raising creators of the 1972 pornographic classic "Behind the Green Door." The film itself is less interesting than the fact that Sheen made it despite all its eerie echoes of his own tangles with substance abuse and naughty women. "I did it to face my demons, to see if I had the balls to relive the things I had experienced," says Sheen, who's been clean since July 1998. He doesn't care if people call this a cruel sort of typecasting: "The guy I play is dead, and I'm not. That's kind of the bottom line."

But not everybody thought that Sheen should play a guy who lets drugs ruin his life. The big opponent was his father, actor Martin Sheen, who asked a judge to issue an arrest warrant for his son in 1998 to force him into rehab. "He was terrified I was going to lead Charlie down the path again into madness and darkness," says Emilio Estevez, who directed "Rated X" and costars with his brother. "Charlie and I talked about the dangers. The decision was just to meet it head-on." He means "head-on." In addition to their other troubles, the Mitchell brothers were also bald as potatoes. Sheen and Estevez shaved their heads. Who got clipped first? "We flipped a coin," says Estevez. "Charlie lost."

Yet he's on a winning streak now. In the fall, Sheen takes over for the ailing Michael J. Fox in ABC's "Spin City." "My responsibility is to show up, blend with the chemistry and not try to fill anybody's shoes," says Sheen. "After all I've been through, it's a tremendous opportunity to get back in the game."

Art Stranger Than Life | News