In 2010 Charlie Sheen earned a stunning $1.8 million an episode for his role in Two and a Half Men. Eight years later, though, the actor would claim that the industry had since iced him out. And as a result of his lack of work, he could no longer afford to pay child support for his four young children.
Sheen was almost destined to become a star, however, as he was born into an acting family. His father Martin’s career took off just after Sheen’s birth, with the veteran actor arguably best known for The West Wing and Apocalypse Now. Meanwhile, Sheen’s brother, Emilio Estevez, would become part of the 1980s Brat Pack, with roles in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire.
Sheen also nabbed his first film role at just nine years old, but he had an in: his dad was also in the 1974 film The Execution of Private Slovik. From there, Sheen explored acting and filmmaking at Santa Monica High School with his brother and two of his friends from school – future stars Rob Lowe and Sean Penn.
So, although Sheen was expelled just before graduation, he had an alternate career path planned already: acting. That was when the man born Carlos Estévez picked up his stage name – a combination of the English version of his first name and his father’s professional surname.
And Sheen’s film career began in earnest with roles in Red Dawn, which starred Patrick Swayze, and the 1986 hit Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. His first major part came the same year in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War.
The next year saw Sheen – along with his father – in another Stone flick, Wall Street. After that, he landed a role in Clint Eastwood-directed cop film The Rookie, directed some movies of his own, made audiences laugh in the Major League series and even starred as himself in Being John Malkovich in 1999.
Then, at the turn of the millennium, Sheen made the jump from the silver screen to TV. Specifically, he joined the cast of Spin City, a sitcom once led by actor Michael J. Fox. But after Fox revealed that he would be retiring from his role, Sheen stepped in as the series’ star. He later won a Golden Globe for his turn in the show.
The show also happened to spark a change in Sheen’s personal life. Actress Denise Richards came on set as a Spin City guest star, and the two started a relationship in October 2001. Then, at the end of December that year, the pair decided that they would be getting married.
And after Sheen and Richards’ June 2002 wedding – held at creator of Spin City Gary David Goldberg’s mansion – the couple seemingly settled into married life. They subsequently welcomed two daughters, Sam and Lola, who are just one year apart in age.
But it wasn’t happily ever after for Sheen and Richards, as she filed for divorce after her husband allegedly threatened her with violence and abused alcohol and drugs. The terms of the divorce would stipulate that Sheen could not come within 300 feet of Richards and their children at all times unless he was having a supervised visit with them.
At the same time, though, Sheen’s professional life was thriving. In 2003 he first appeared in the role of Charlie Harper on CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, and the series became a very popular one. Indeed, when the sixth season of Two and a Half Men aired in 2008, it was the tenth-most watched show in the country.
And in 2008 Sheen also remarried. This time, the woman walking down the aisle was Brooke Mueller, a real estate investor and former actress. But the pair’s union would quickly become contentious – perhaps even more so than Sheen’s marriage to Richards.
First, though, Sheen and Mueller shared some happy times. Just ten months after they said their “I dos,” the couple welcomed twin boys, Bob and Max. And during that period, the actor’s rep said to E! News, “He’s a family man – now he has… two sons. He’s a wonderful father.”
But Sheen and Mueller’s relationship would soon turn sour. Sheen was arrested for domestic violence at Christmas in 2009, after which both he and Mueller each had spells in rehab. But while Sheen’s sentence for his actions included probation and counseling, along with his treatment, that wasn’t enough to save his marriage; the couple still found themselves filing for divorce in November 2010.
At the time, Sheen was raking in some serious cash for his part on Two and a Half Men. In fact, he was the biggest-earning star on TV, making $1.8 million an episode of the show. As such, the $55,000 a month in child support he promised Mueller was clearly not a huge ask for the star – even with an equal monthly payout to Richards on the books too.
But Sheen agreed to that payment scheme while apparently on the brink of a personal crisis. In January 2011 – just one month before the actor’s divorce with Mueller became final – filming of Two and a Half Men halted. At the time, Sheen was checking into rehab for the third time in a year. And when he found out that CBS had canceled the rest of the show’s season, he had plenty to say.
Sheen’s statements on the matter included scathing remarks about Chuck Lorre, who had created Two and a Half Men. And from there, it was all downhill: Sheen was prohibited from entering the production lot, with the star in turn ordering that he receive a 50 percent increase in salary. At that point, though, the network had had enough, ending Sheen’s contract and substituting him with Ashton Kutcher.
After his firing, Sheen was able to find more work in TV; he starred in Anger Management on FX, which lasted from 2012 to 2014. In the years since, however, the one-time A-lister has seemingly struggled to gain another high-profile role. Then in 2018 he requested a cut in his child support payments to Richards and Mueller.
By that time, Sheen was paying Richards $20,000 each month and $55,000 to Mueller. However, he hoped to reduce these figures because he had, he said, “been unable to find steady work and [has] been blacklisted from many aspects of the entertainment industry.” Sheen also claimed to be down to his last $10 million.
In the meantime, Sheen had put his $10 million Beverly Hills abode on the market – presumably to ease financial strain. But his father is seemingly accepting of his son’s struggles. “You always hope that things will continue to improve, but you can’t control anything, and that’s the ego,” Martin told Us Weekly in September 2018. “You just give thanks and praise every day for what is there, and you embrace it.”