Charlie Sheen’s public rants against Two And A Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre ultimately got the actor fired from the hit comedy series. But if Lorre had his way, he would’ve left first, just as Sheen was going off the rails early year. “I offered to quit the show last winter,” Lorre told TV Guide in an extensive interview. “I said, ‘Listen, if for some reason I’m now the Antichrist, I’m happy to leave. It’s not in my interest to stop the show, and I certainly don’t want to put all these people out of work. Keep going. Get another guy. Don’t stop on my account.’ “
And that was not the first time Lorre thought about leaving the show. In the interview, he said he regretted not quitting the show after Sheen was arrested for allegedly threatening his wife with a knife on Christmas Day in 2009. “When he started attacking people with knives, that’s it,” Lorre said. “That should have been it. I should have walked. That’s unthinkable. No more. I’m done. But for some reason I thought that because she was willing to forgive him … we could emerge from this fiasco and be stronger and healthier.”
Despite their acrimonious divorce, complete with a $100 million lawsuit that has been settled, Lorre had a lot of praise for his former leading man, even comparing Sheen to Dean Martin. “Charlie is the epitome of cool and he made it look effortless,” Lorre said. “People never gave him enough credit for how skillful he was because he made it look so easy. There’s that element of Charlie that’s admirable and he was the kind of guy you wanted to hang out with. He was a special guy. But special guys are not immune to drug addiction.” Lorre also reflected on Sheen’s final months on the show. “Last January and February it was not working anymore,” he said. “You couldn’t do that much cocaine and work. It was heartbreaking to be around here last year.”
Despite numerous reports about years of underlying tension between Lorre and Sheen that bubbled up to the surface when Sheen’s inhibitions were suppressed by drugs, Lorre painted a rather idyllic picture of the duo’s relationship prior to Sheen’s public outburst earlier this year. “The man was my friend,” Lorre said. “I cared for him deeply. We had a great time. … We held hands and prayed when his sons were born prematurely.”
Other tidbits from Lorre’s TV Guide interview:
— Lorre first conceived Ashton Kutcher’s character as a hotshot Hollywood actor, but Lorre felt that was too close to Sheen’s Charlie Harper and made him an Internet billionaire instead.
— Lorre confirmed that he put pressure on the TV Academy and Fox to back out of a plan to have Sheen present the best comedy series actor award at the Emmys. “I thought it was really disrespectful to the nominees,” Lorre said. “That’s their moment, and it was somehow undermined by this melodrama that was happening on stage. I don’t have any regrets about making some phone calls and saying, ‘Really? You’re going to do this?’ ” Fox and Emmys executive producer Mark Burnett went ahead with the plan anyway, with Sheen presenting the award to Jim Parsons from Lorre’s other series, The Big Bang Theory.
— Kutcher, who was also interviewed, hinted that he would likely renew his deal for 2.5 Men, which is up at the end of this season. “Right now I’m still enjoying it,” he said. “And as long as I’m enjoying something, I’ll stick with it.”