Martin Sheen Recalls Feeling "Powerless" During Son Charlie Sheen's Meltdown in 2011

"You try to be as present as possible, but you have to be aware of the circumstances," he says

By Francesca Bacardi May 26, 2015 6:22 PMTags
Martin Sheen,Charlie SheenJeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

While Charlie Sheen was going through a very public meltdown in 2011, his father, Martin Sheen, felt like he couldn't do anything to help his son.

In an interview with Radio Times, the West Wing star revealed that he and his family felt "powerless" when it came to handling Charlie, who was fired from his hit sitcom, Two and a Half Men, there wasn't much they could do except pray.

"What he was going through at that time, we were powerless to do much. Except to pray for him and lift him up," he said. "You try to be as present as possible, but you have to be aware of the circumstances. You have to be aware of many things that the public is not aware of."

The Grace and Frankie actor revealed that his son was also struggling with steroid abuse and was trying to do anything he can to help himself—including broadcasting his hardships in the public eye.


"Only those of us that knew him understood what was going on. I'm talking about steroids, at that time. He was in a very desperate situation," he continued. "And he was doing what he felt would get him out of it – going public. And it was very painful. No less painful for him."

Martin also understands what it's like to struggle with addiction. He used to drink so much that he had a heart attack on the set of Apocalypse Now in 1977, but has been sober for almost 30 years. With the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, Martin learned what works and doesn't work while trying to help someone in need.

"You can assure them you're there and you love them, but you cannot effect change. That's your ego, for the most part," he explained. "You pray for a moment of clarity, you trust in a higher power and you never, ever give up hope. Because that is a measure of despair."

The elder Sheen, who worked with Charlie on Anger Management, which premiered to bad reviews, admitted in hindsight that the series was too rushed for the sake of its cast. "Anger Management didn't set the bar that high," he confessed.

"I was delighted to work with Charlie – I adore him, and he asked me to do it. But we all knew that it was pulled together very quickly to get Charlie [involved], rather than to have a more interesting theme," he added. "It was too surface."