Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen's latest role: Acting normal

The warlock Adonis calms down -- just in time for his big return to TV

Mary Elizabeth Williams
September 16, 2011 11:17PM (UTC)

Of all the crazy stunts Charlie Sheen has pulled, this one takes the cake. Lately he's been acting … normal. Sober. Nice, even. What in the name of wizards and tiger blood is going on around here?

Making the talk show rounds in anticipation of his aptly named new sitcom "Anger Management" and his Monday evening Comedy Central roast, the Vatican assassin is revealing a more sedate side of himself this week. On the "Today" show Friday, Sheen insisted he's "a lot calmer, a lot mellower," and said, "I think it's important that people see that ... was just one crazy chapter, one weird phase, and that I was this guy before it started so I could be that guy again afterward." And discussing his "Two and a Half Men" flameout this week with Jay Leno, Sheen confessed that "I would've fired [me] too." He even admitted he'd "be completely on board for" a guest shot on his old show  This from the guy who mere months ago called his boss Chuck Lorre a "contaminated little maggot."


With his two "goddesses" out of the house and newly, "absolutely" sober, Sheen may not be entirely motivated by recovery and profound new wisdom. The guy has a show to sell -- both to the viewers and his new corporate overlords. The man who last winter was referring to his "Two and a Half Men" bosses as "turds" and "losers" may have enjoyed a groundswell of sticking-it-to-the-man support and a sold-out "comedy" tour earlier this year, but the public memory is short, and its tolerance for exhausting levels of wackiness is only so great. The fact is, you can claim to be "winning" all you want, but going from being the highest-paid man on television to dodging beer cans at the Gathering of the Juggalos is something of a comedown.

Though his bank account is no doubt still formidable, it's Sheen's ego that's always been the biggest thing about him. The last thing he could bear right now would be for the newly revamped "Two and a Half Men," which premieres opposite his Comedy Central roast, to outshine his own exploits. For Sheen, whose work ethic is so fierce he allegedly had a "no crack for 12 hours before shooting" rule, the real possibility that his zany antics -- and his history of domestic altercations  -- might no longer be quite so charming may well indeed have proven "absolutely" sobering.

"I'm seeing my kids a lot more, mending fences with Denise and Brooke, just trying to move forward and prioritize what matters," he says now. "I think that's where the life is, you know, it's in those quiet moments. It's not the giant TV deal or the big party or the award or whatever, it's the memory of your child's smile at the end of the day that sort of brings that one lonesome tear, you know?" But for Sheen, a man whose addictions have always included work and adulation, the idea of being lonesome -- unadored, unwritten about, untelevised, getting less attention than Ashton Frickin' Kutcher -- is likely unthinkable. In fact, for a guy like him, it probably sounds downright nuts. 

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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