Charlie Sheen


  1. Ralph Machio, The Karate Kid, 1983.      The surprise hit had been  aimed at Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Jon Cryer, Robert Downey Jr, Kyle Eastwood, Anthony Edwards, Crispin Glover, Sean Penn,   Eric Stoltz, brothers Emilio Esteves and Charlie Sheen and the Initialers  Michael J Fox, C Thomas Howell,  D B Sweeney. At 22, looking 16, Macchio made  Daniel LaRusso (ex-Weber) his own in four  films and two video-games… and named his son Daniel.  The Character is claimed by many but  was based on the early life of scenarist Robert Mark Kamen. Sheen preferred to make Grizzly II: Revenge with George Clooney. D’oh!  Eleven years on and Clooney and Edwards became TV  superstars as doctors Ross  and Greene in the ER series, from among other companies, Steven  Spielberg’s Amblin. 
  2. Johnny Depp, A Nightmare On Elm Street, 1984.       Charlie was very keen on playing Glen, but Wes Craven’s horror squad could not afford Sheen’s shine.  So this became Depp’s debut. He’d simply accompaned pal Jackie Earl Haley to the auditions and the producer’s daughter found him dreamy. Ohio auteur Wes Craven agreed after seeing Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, C Thomas Howell, Brad Pitt and Kiefer Sutherland for the heroine’s boyfriend. 
  3. Michael J Fox, Back To The Future, 1984.      For producer Steven Spielberg, the ideal Marty McFly was Fox. But he could hardly quit his hit Family Ties series. So director Robert Zemeckis looked over the usual young suspects:  Sheen, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, and  C Thomas Howell, signed Stoltz, fired him after five weeks for not being enough of a screwball and Fox worked around the clock daily on his series and his breakthrough movie. And lived to make two sequels! 
  4. Andrew McCarthy, Pretty In Pink, 1985.       Sheen – and James Spader – tested for Blane… described on the casting call sheet as “a hunky, square-jawed jock. ” Not my type, moaned the third-time John Hughes star, Molly Ringwald. After the McAudiiton, she told Hughes: “That‘s the kind of guy I would fall in love with.”
  5. C Thomas Howell, The Hitcher, 1985.    Our young hero (who finds finds an amputated finger in his french fries) could have been Sheen, Tom Cruise, Charlie’s bro Emilio Estevez  or Matthew Modine – instead of Howell, scared stiff by the  titular Rutger Hauer.
  6. Tom Parsekian, Club Life, 1985.   Sheen tested for the smalltown guy moving to Hollywood as a bouncer in  Tony Curtis’ disco, surrounded  by drugs, girls, gangsters and waterbeds filled with goldfish.  No wonder they thought of Charlie.
  7. Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1985. Among those passing on cocky USNavy jet pilot Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell were: Kevin Bacon, Scott Baio,  Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr, Michael J Fox, Rob Lowe, Matthew Modine (took exception to the script’s Cold War politics), Patrick Swayze, Eric Stolz John Travolta (too pricey) and brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez.  Too young, at 20, Sheen sent the whole movie up in Hot Shots! 1990. Maverick became one of Cruise’s signature acts – still  took 34 years for a sequel!
  8. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.  Not often you find Charlie in the frame for the same role as Arnie or Sly…      In all, 39 possibilities for the off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs – not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!)  Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shootingAliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired: Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role inThe Fly), William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another cop duo in The Hidden),  Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don  Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops:  Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton.
  9. Tim Robbins, Bull Durham, 1987. Ron Shelton had one helluva  job trying to win backing for his directing debut. “Baseball? Get outa here. Ball movies don’t sell.”  But his producer Thom Mount was part-owner of the real Durham Bulls squad and recognised what Roger Ebert would call a sports movie that knows what it is talking about. – because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love.” For the team’s new, naive young (supoer) pitcher, Nuke LaLoosh (oh yeah!), Shelton juggled the suits’ choice of Anthony Michael Hall with his favourites: Robins, Davjd Duchovny and Charlie Sheen.  Robbins won the role – and the gal, Susan Sarandon. They lived together for 21 years. Sheen won three other ball movies: Eight Men Out, Major League I and II.
  10. Michael Keaton, Batman,   1988.

  11. George Carlin,  Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1988.  Shooting had moved from Arizona to Italy, but no one had been found for Rufus,  mentor of the time-travelling duo. “We reached out to all sorts of people, included, but we were… not on anybody’s radar,” director Stephen Herek told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. “We went through 20-25 people – Ringo Starr included, probably Roger Daltrey.” “They just couldn’t find anybody,” reported Alex Winter/Bill. “Imagine that opening monologue with Charlie Sheen, Sean Connery…  these are the names that were being bandied about. None of them are really comedians. It seemed fairly logical to land on a comedian… and I’m very glad that they did. George was a happy accident.That whole moviewas a happy accident. No one thought it would ever see the light of day.
  12. Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July1989.
  13. Keanu Reeves, Point Break  1990.   The search for young FBI agent Johnny Utah, infiltrating a gonzo surfer gang of bank robbers in ex-President masks – and falling under the spell of their guru-ish leader – covered  Matthew Broderick, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Val Kilmer,  Charlie Sheen and even Patrick Swayze (who played the guru),  But director Kathryn Bigelow  said Reeves had to be Utah or she wouldn’t  make the movie.
  14. Andy Garcia, The Godfather: Part III, 1991.
  15. Gary Oldman, JFK, 1991.
  16. Val Kilmer, The Doors, 1991.     Despite their Platoon/Wall Street films, it was not scenarist-director Oliver Stone, but others seeing Sheen as Jim Morrison during the decade long history of the film.
  17. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  18. Woody Harrelson, White Men Can’t Jump, 1991.   First choice Sheen  just didn’t feel connected to basketball. “At least, when I do a baseball movie, I know I’m gonna have a good time.” So he was not reunited with his Major League baseball movie co-star Wesley Snipes. Also in the Billy Hoyle mix: David Duchovny and Keanu Reeves.
  19. Emilio Estevez, The Mighty Ducks (UK:Champions),  1992.  From January 22 to April  11 to be precise.  With  Estevez beating  bro’ Charlie Sheen, plus Tom Cruise, Michael J Fox, Tom Hanks,  the way too old Bill Murray and even the scenarist  Steve Brill, himself,  to  the seen-it-all-before sports movie. The one, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert,  “about the misfit coach who is handed a team of kids who are losers, and turns them into winners while redeeming himself.”
  20. Keanu Reeves, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992.     William Baldwin, Johnny Depp, , Christian Slater were also seen for the mild-mannered. Jonathan Harker. The Columbia suits voted Reeves. He was hot, the others were not. D’oh!   Slater famously fled, opining: “If you’re not going to play Dracula in Dracula, why bother? I’d already been Robin Hood’s brother.”

  21. Woody Harrelson,  White Men Can’t Jump, 1992.      “I didn’t feel it would be any fun. I don’t feel connected to basketball. When I do a baseball movie, I know I’m gonna have a good time.”
  22. Tom Cruise, The Firm, 1992.   Sheen and Jason Patric were both on the wish-list for Mitch McDeere,author John Grisham’s latest young lawyer hero. This one discovers his law firm is run by the Mafia.
  23. Woody Harrelson, Indecent Proposal, 1993.    Sheen, William Baldwin, John Cusack, Val Kilmer…  None of them had Harrelson’s guts to accept the role of a husband  selling  his wife for $1m to a zillionaire for one night.(He’d even walked out of Benny & Joonto play David – costing Paramount $400,000). Didn’t matter which lady played the missus – Irene Jacob, Andi MacDowell, Sophie Marceau, Demi Moore, Julia Roberts  – the film had a fatal flaw. Mr Money Bags was Robert Redford. ’Nuff said?  Well, no Charlie wants a word. Or two… “I didn’t want to have my wife in the movie snatched by Robert Redford. Besides, to show, in the end, that the million dollars didn’t mean anything to the guy by having him buy an elephant, or whatever the fuck it was… I mean, the millionaire’s already jammed your wife, man, keep the cash!”
  24. Oliver Platt, The Three Musketeers, 1993.     He turned down Porthos – he had the humour, just not the build anymore.   Slim enough for Aramis.   Platt was offered Porthos in two of the three Dumas frolics jockeying for a complete quartet.  And Sheen just hated horses. 
  25. Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993.  In love with the script, Sheen offered to make his own 30-minute test and make the movie for scale (the lowest possible actors’ salary). Too late, writer-director Frank Darabont had already booked Robbins as Stephen King’s prisoner #37927, from: Jeff Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner (drowning in Waterworld), Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks (busy Forrest Gumping) were in the loop for clever Andy Dufresne – the jailed banker once handled the finances of Kurt Dussander, according to Apt Pupil, another of the filmed short stories from Stephen King’s 1982 collection, Different Seasons.  The Shawshank title baffled the public (until it smashed DVD records). It had been Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and director Frank Darabont was swamped by agents touting their glamour pusses to play Rita… in the 43rd of King’s staggering 313 screen credits. Charlie’s Dad, Martin Sheen, had filmed another King novel, The Dead Zone, ten years previously – and brother Emilio Estevez writer-director-starred Maximum Overdrive, 1985.
  26. Peter Greene, The Usual Suspects, 1994.     Jeff Bridges, Johnny Cash, Tommy Lee Jones, Al Pacino, James Spader, Christopher Walken were also seen for Redfoot, the LA fence.  The New Jersey actor  got the part – but no credit. 
  27. Woody Harrelson, The Cowboy War, 1994.   He who once called himself “a high-priest Vatican assassin warlock,” passed three in a row to Woody…
  28. Sean Penn, Carlito’s Way, 1994.      When Charlie passed, Sean grabbed it  – he needed   money for his second film as a director, The Crossing Guard,  1995.
  29. Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island, 1995.   All the guys (Jeff Bridges, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Douglas, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Keaton, Liam Neeson, Keanu Reeves) loved the idea of playing pirates – just not with the leading lady Geena Davis’ husband, Renny Harlin, directing.   Who was gonna getthe best looking close-ups!
  30. Val Kilmer, Wings of Courage, 1995.      French realisateur Jean-Jacques Annaud had to search elsewhere for his Imax movie lead when Sheen refused a drug test.

  31. Patrick Swayze To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, 1995.     Matt Dillon, Robert Downey Jr, Rob Lowe, Wesley Snipes, James Spader – they also entered the drag race.   Only Snipes won a role.
  32. Christian Slater, Murder in the First, 1995.      Director Marc Rocco decided to  thank Slater for his uncredited cameo in Rocco’s breakthrough, Where The Day Takes You, 1992.
  33. Guy Pearce, Memento, 1999.      After Alec Baldwin foolishly passed on the hero with massive short-term memory loss, director Christopher Nolan (adapting his brother Jonathan’s short story)looked at Sheen, Aaron Eckhart, Thomas Jane, Brad Pitt. None could have matched the moving work of Pearce, who also had the advantage of being lesser known and, therefore, more credible as Leonard…forever talking fast to stop forgetting what he’s talking about!
  34. John C Reilly, Chicago, 2001.
  35. Russell Crowe, A Brilliant Mind, 2001.   The choice of the right actor to portray the schizophrenic Noble Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr was vital.  Which had me wondering why Keanu Reeves, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta and Bruce Willis   were on the short-list!   Then again they might have proved as surprising as Crowe. Director Ron Howard’s other candidates included  Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson,  Jared Leto, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt. Nash liked the  six-Oscar-winner. “But it wasn’t me.”  Well, Charlie sure wasn’t… 
  36. Michael C Hall, Dexter, TV,  2006-2013.      Everyone from Charlie and his brother Emilio Estevez to – quite stupidly, – Tom Cruise,  Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, were listed for TV’s most unlikely hero. Dexter Morgan was  the Miami PD’s  blood-splatter expert moonlighting as a serial killer… of other killers.  Charlie was busy enough earning the TV’s biggest salary – $1.25 million per episode  of Two And A Half Men, 2003-2010.
  37. François Arnaud, The Borgias, TV, 2010.   The Italian Caligula director Tinto Brass told me he offered Cesare Borgia to Sheen… long before  Irish director Neil Jordan got his film  off the ground  – as a TV  series.






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  37