Who could resist the offer of An Evening with Charlie Sheen? Not me, that’s for sure – and especially not one being hosted by the man we all love to hate, Piers Morgan. After all, we’re talking about a member of Hollywood royalty, a man who’s had a life and career most of us can only dream of; who went to school with Sean Penn and Rob Lowe, for goodness sake. So it’s no wonder that there was such an air of expectancy around Theatre Royal Drury Lane as we sat waiting for the interview to begin.
And it did begin, eventually, albeit somewhat shambolically, after Piers Morgan had strolled on to the stage, greeted by pantomime hisses and boos, to promise us an evening of wild tales and refreshing honesty. And to introduce a video medley about Charlie’s career which…didn’t work. We waited and waited…but nothing. Oh dear. On with the show, though, and eventually Charlie appeared, looking – well, exactly like he does on TV. He’s 50 now and, despite Piers Morgan’s protestations to the contrary, looks it – but then it’s fair to say that he’s packed a lot into those 50 years, isn’t it?
This turned out to be a strange interview, really – similar in format to Piers’ ‘Life Stories’, but accompanied by X-Factor whoops & cheers from the audience every time Charlie said, well, pretty much anything. It didn’t take long for us to realise that this was not going to become an interview celebrated for its penetrating insights. While friendly enough, Charlie evaded most of the questions (in some cases fairly: at one point Piers asked Charlie which of his three ex-wives he would most wish to be stranded with on a desert island and Charlie’s response was that all of them were excellent mothers to his children – you can’t blame him for not engaging in that particular line of questioning).
He admitted to having been badly affected by his father, Martin Sheen’s, heart attack aged 36 whilst in the Philippines filming ‘Apocalypse Now’ and he was honest about his initial shock and disbelief at being diagnosed HIV-positive, saying that now he’s come to terms with it, he hopes he can be a role model to others afflicted by the disease.
And yet, I came away feeling that I’d learned very little about Charlie as a human being. When asked who he would most like to be if he could wake up tomorrow as anyone but himself, he responded, “Um – I don’t want to come across as arrogant, but I’m happy being me” – which may well be true, and is lovely, sort of, but not particularly interesting for the audience. The same goes for his response to “Of all the roles that you’ve played, which is your favourite?” Charlie’s response? “I’d like to think that my best work is still in front of me”. GROAN. A journalist friend once told me that actors can be the dullest people to interview – and I think she may have had a point.
Of course, it may just be that Charlie can’t remember much of what he’s done. He did manage to go begin a story about an 11-day bender that he once went on – before conceding that, actually…he couldn’t remember much about it. Faulty memory or not, I suspect that humility isn’t Charlie’s strong suit. Although confessing that the way in which he left (was sacked from) ‘Two and a Half Men’ is his biggest regret, he wouldn’t admit to ever having behaved badly, instead going off on a rambling tangent about how he was the only person involved with the show who had a sense of humour. Hmm. I suspect the show’s writers, and quite possibly its other actors, may have something to say about that…