Monday, February 28, 2011

Charlie's interview

I just listened to Charlie Sheen rant on a "Today" show interview about how special he is. He thinks his $2 million per episode salary on “Two and a Half Men” should be bumped up to $3 million. When I heard that I thought that it’s really not Charlie’s fault that he believes he’s so freaking special. He’s a product and a victim of the cult of celebrity, the deification of stardom, and everybody from the public to producers and studio executives have bought into it and reinforce it. They seem to think a series lives and dies with its star. Tell that to the producers of the many James Bond films. And exactly how many actors have successfully played Doctor Who?

Don’t they know that a star, no matter how talented and hard working, is just a product of collaborative efforts of dozens – in Charlie’s case, hundreds – of writers, directors and technicians? I’m a writer, so naturally I’m biased, but I think that’s where it all starts. With the script. Without the script nobody would laugh at the antics of Charlie Harper (Sheen’s character for those who don’t watch the show). Charlie just repeats the words the writer wrote, and he does it in the way the director tells him to. So what’s the big deal?

OK, I know that often actors contribute to the writing. They sometimes write their own scripts or offer helpful changes or even improve scripts through improvisation. And yes, a star can bring a certain charisma to a role. But I don’t believe any actor is irreplaceable. For example: Was it just John Wayne’s magnetism that made the first “True Grit” a great movie? Apparently the Cohen brothers didn’t think so.

There are many actors whom I greatly admire, from Oscar winners like Sean Penn and Jeff Bridges to local actors such as Christian Doyle and Scott C. Brown and Dennis Rolly and many others. And you know what? I think any one of them plus at least a half dozen other actors from Olympia and Tacoma could play the part of Charlie Harper and the sitcom would be just as funny. Why heck, you could put Lauren O’Neill in the part of one of Charlie’s girlfriends and the show would be immeasurably better. And none of them get $3 million per gig. They all work day jobs to make ends meet.

One other thing: Charlie’s father – another actor I admire – should tell his son to get over himself.

Charlie Sheen paraphrased from various statements made during the NBC interview: I'm tired of pretending I'm not special. I’m a total freaking rock star from Mars with tiger blood and Adonis DNA You can't process me with a normal brain.

Watch the interview.

1 comment:

Michael Dresdner said...

IMO, being cast to type is far and away the easiest sort of acting, and unless I've misread the papers, Charlie Sheen is Charlie Harper. We actors tend to be most impressed with one another when one is playing way outside one's own reality and comfort zone.