Penthouse Retrospective

by Allan Sonnenschein Originally Published: January, 1993

Charlie Sheen

When he’s not playing baseball and reading everything written about it, Charlie spends hours watching videos of those he considers the masters of the game. He will describe every bat­ting nuance of greats like George Brett, Tony Gwynn, and Wade Boggs. “They are trying to hit a 100-mile-per-hour pill being shot out of a great cannon,” is how Charlie describes what they are up against. He admires their poise, hard work, and discipline under pressure and strives to emulate them.

While filming Major League, Charlie, over a period of a few hours, had to throw 300 pitches-about 27 innings, or three complete games of baseball. He permanently in1ured his left shoulder, and because of the severe and chronic pain was forced to become a left-handed batter. After a lifetime of batting the other way, Charlie ac­cepted the challenge and spent hours taking batting practice. “It’s amazing,” he explained, “but my vision’s a lot better, my bat’s a lot quicker, and in a year and a half I’m better than I ever was as a right-handed hitter.”

The great players are those who can go through a game striking out three times, but at that last at bat, with the game on the line, find something extra and deliver that winning hit. It’s that way with acting for Charlie: “Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s that something extra,” he explained. ’’I’m not going to lie to you, there are times you show up on the set and have two lines, and you simply walk through. It’s just work. Then there are certain scenes and moments, based on the intensity or intent of what you’re trying to pull off, that call for more of an all-out effort. That’s when you bring out your best.”

Doing your best is Charlie’s credo, but he recalled a time, during the filming of Wall Street, when it wasn’t always easy: “It was a rough time for me. I was living that New York nightlife. Fame had arrived, it was a fresh thing and every­body was my best friend. It didn’t mat­ter if I had a 6 A.M. call, as long as the bar was serving until 4 A.M. I was there. I had to learn to do more than just try to make it to lunch. Fortunately, I real­ized that I’ve got a job a million other guys would die for and the responsi­bility to the money-paying public to give it my best shot.”

In Fixing the Shadow, he had to spend two months living with real-life, hard-assed, biker-gang members. Al­though the character he plays is the good-guy cop, I asked him if he could get caught up in that free-fall, outlaw lifestyle: “I could never go as far as those guys because I have a pretty good idea of right and wrong, black and white. There’s a certain point where I would have to draw the line. I don’t think those guys draw that line and that’s what separates us. It’s a strange world, and once we were finished filming I was happy to be out of there.”

Are there any parts Charlie would turn down? “I couldn’t play a child-molester, rapist, or wife-beater,” he claimed. “I would have a hard time getting it in my head to understand why guys would do that.” Then with that mischievous glint in his eyes, added “Well, if it was the role of a lifetime, and it was the time to play a real scumbag, maybe I would.”

Until then, he’ll keep hoping for that mention in The Baseball Encyclopedia and try to console himself with his career, talent, success, good looks, daughter, siblings, parents, friends, et cetera. He’s okay. Charlie Sheen knows that some guys get all of the breaks.

Is Charlie Sheen the victim of tabloid sensationalism? Or is he just a sensation? Charlie speaks frankly about troubles that have plagued him in the past and opens up about some topics most wouldn't associate with him.