SHEEN: Absolutely. There’s something about every spring when baseball season starts again. There’s a feeling that everything in the world is good again. When I was growing up, my bedroom was covered in baseball shit. I would tape baseball cards to the walls before I realized they would be valuable one day. That’s the kind of stuff I went to bed with and woke up with.
PLAYBOY: You were apparently pretty good at baseball in your teens. How close did you come to playing pro?
SHEEN: Not close at all. I went to a camp called the Mickey Owen Baseball School, in Miller, Missouri, and I got scouted my final year there. I had a good arm for a guy my size, and it always surprised people. I also had decent speed. But I couldn’t hit for shit. I remember contemplating all this when I was 16 or 17, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Chris Penn, who was my best friend growing up, had just done Footloose. I saw how much money he was making and realized I was in the wrong business.
PLAYBOY: Was money that important to you?
SHEEN: A lot of people will say, “Oh, I got into acting because I wanted to explore my craft.” They’re a bunch of liars, unless they’re Sean Penn, DeNiro or my dad. For the rest of us it was all about chicks and money. Seriously. It was about how I could get money so I could impress the girls and feel like I mattered.
PLAYBOY: You got to live vicariously as a ballplayer in some of your movies, such as Major League and Eight Men Out.
SHEEN: Yeah, but it never felt like the real thing. Shooting a movie can be so tedious. You’re trying to get 20 different angles on the same swing. You never get into a rhythm. But I took it very seriously. When I was working on Major League, I trained with [Dodgers catcher] Steve Yeager.
PLAYBOY: You were taking steroids during the shoot, right?
SHEEN: That’s right. I wanted to put a little zip on my fastball. I didn’t want to look like I was lily-arming it up there. I was always a hit-the-spots, low-zone pitcher. But my character, Ricky Vaughn, is a flamethrower. With steroids I went from a modest 78 mph to a decent 85, which on film can be made to look in the 90s.
PLAYBOY: But aren’t there health risks?
SHEEN: I got injured a lot afterward. Steroids build your muscles, but they don’t build your tendons or ligaments. Once you start altering your body’s blueprint, things start falling apart. Some players take steroids, and two years later, after they’ve broken records, suddenly they have back problems, shoulder problems, arm problems. They’re out of the game for good.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever have roid rage?
SHEEN: Oh yeah. That’s definitely a real thing. When you take steroids, you’re pissed all day long. About nothing. You just wake up and you’re fucking mad. But I had a trainer, Lyle Alzado, who was really smart. He’d been a defensive lineman in the National Football League. He knew enough guys who did steroids, and he knew enough doctors. I did steroids for only three months, and I never did them again. If there’s a safe way to do steroids, we tried.
PLAYBOY: Some people think steroids have tarnished the sanctity of baseball. Do you agree?
SHEEN: Hey, man, back in the 1920s everyone was allowed one spitball pitcher. Why not have one guy on each team who takes steroids? Then it’s even. People who are critical of steroids usually say the same thing: “Oh, it sends a bad message to the kids.” How about the parents worry about that? How about parents become more heroic and send the right message at home before the kid gets to the ballpark? When you were growing up, your biggest heroes were probably your parents, right?
SHEEN: They were bigger than life, they protected you, and they showed you things you wouldn’t have otherwise seen. They were our heroes. And then athletes become our heroes, because they’re superhuman. They do things nobody else can do. They’re better than 6 billion other people. It’s sad because there are a lot of inner-city situations where you have single-parent families. A dad or mom is working four jobs, taking eight buses and getting home at 11. They’re not able to have as much influence over their kids’ lives, because they’re not around. Their kids end up looking up to the guy with the thousand tattoos and the bad attitude who’s in the playoffs every year because he looks like a god and a hero. And yes, those people are gods; they are heroes. They’re better than anybody alive.
PLAYBOY: But you’re saying parents should still be the main role models for their children?
SHEEN: Exactly. If they’re worried about their kids using steroids, they should get to them first, before the athletes do.
PLAYBOY: Are you going to talk with your kids about drugs?
SHEEN: Probably, but I’m definitely not ready for it. What do you do? I have no idea. Do you tell them everything you did and then say “Don’t do any of that stuff”? At least one of them is going to say, “But, Dad, I read about you in this article. You were pretty gnarly. Why shouldn’t I have that kind of fun too?” What the hell do you say to that? Because it’s not safe? Because you deserve a better life?
PLAYBOY: What happens if you find a bag of weed in their bedroom?
SHEEN: Well, I’d want to know about the quality and how much the damn thing costs—you know, just to make sure they’re not getting fucking ripped off. And my next question would be “Is it Charlie Sheen OG?”
PLAYBOY: What’s Charlie Sheen OG?
SHEEN: They now sell pot named after me in the dispensaries. And I’m not even a pot guy. I was so honored.
PLAYBOY: Do you stand by its quality?
SHEEN: Let’s just say I tried it.
PLAYBOY: And you approve?
SHEEN: The quality’s fine. There’s too much quality, if anything. I couldn’t feel my hands after a while. I smoked some with a friend, and she said, “What a trip. I’m with Charlie Sheen smoking Charlie Sheen.” I was like, “How do you think I feel? I’m smoking myself!”
PLAYBOY: Would you do that with your kids? If you caught them with weed, would you want them to smoke it with you?
SHEEN: Good God no. I don’t want to get high with my kids, because then everything is different forever. That’s so stupid, I think. No, if I found weed in their room, I’d take it and wait. They’re going to come to you at some point. They’ll notice it’s gone and go, “Oh shit. Where is it? Where is it?” Then when they fess up, I’ll try to have as open a dialogue about it as possible. I don’t want them to do any drugs, but weed is better than Adderall. That’s the worst drug ever. Everybody’s on Adderall now—kids, adults, tweeners. It’ll be the downfall of our society. That’s why rehabs are filled with 12- and 13-year-olds, because they’re all hooked on speed from the age of five.
PLAYBOY: Once they leave your house, you can’t really control what they do, what drugs they try.
SHEEN: Yeah, but I have a deal with them. They have one, maybe two chances to call me anytime, no questions asked, and I will come and get them. But if there are signs of any physical damage on their bodies, then there’s going to be gunplay involved. It’s a whole different story for whatever house they’re leaving. That shit gets burned to the ground. Period, the end. When it comes to my kids, I don’t play around.
PLAYBOY: You’ve mentioned you might want to retire after Anger Management. Is that because you want to be a full-time dad?
SHEEN: Yeah, that’s pretty much the reason. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve gotten at work: “He or she took their first step” or “He or she ate solid food” or “He or she rode a bike for the first time.” I’m the breadwinner and I have to do this so my kids can have a life, but I feel I’m missing too much.
PLAYBOY: You could do what your dad did and just take your family everywhere.
SHEEN: Yeah, but that gets tough too. Sometimes they have to see things you don’t want them to see. I remember when my dad was doing The Execution of Private Slovik. I was only nine at the time, and it was traumatic.
SHEEN: Because he was playing this character who’s falling apart. He’s so freaking good in that movie. You take the baddest dude in the world and put a camera on him and watch him unravel. But for a kid, you don’t want to see that kind of vulnerability in your dad.
PLAYBOY: You didn’t understand that he was just doing make-believe?
SHEEN: Not really. Growing up, there were times I thought my dad was insane. He’d always be in a corner, mumbling to himself. And we were like, “What’s up with Dad? Does he hear voices or something?” It turns out he was always running dialogue in his head. I had a moment like that a couple of years ago. Sam and Lola were at the house, and I was running dialogue. The amount of stuff you have to keep in your head, especially doing television, is mind-boggling. And I heard Sam say to her sister, “Why is Dad talking to himself?” [laughs] And there it was. It was like a generational passing of the guard. Once again, I had become my father.
PLAYBOY: There are some ways you probably don’t want to be like him, like having a heart attack at a young age.
SHEEN: I definitely don’t want that. It freaked me out for a long time, because I think I was projecting fears about my own mortality onto his situation. I was so desperate to make it to my 37th birthday.
PLAYBOY: Because your dad had a heart attack at 36?
SHEEN: Right. And it seemed like my life was mirroring his in a lot of ways. I was in the Philippines with him for eight months while he shot Apocalypse, and then I went back 10 years later to make Platoon, which was my Vietnam film, my Apocalypse. It’s a little strange, you know? It’s a little freaking odd. I was seeing a lot of parallels between my dad and myself. I told myself, When I’m 36 it’s going to happen.
PLAYBOY: You thought you were going to have a heart attack?
SHEEN: I was convinced of it. He survived his, but I wouldn’t survive mine. It’s just a story I wrote in my head. It wasn’t based on any fact. I just decided it was going to happen. And a lot of times you can manifest that shit.
PLAYBOY: Have you ever talked with him about it, how close he came to dying?
SHEEN: Oh yeah, a lot. And it’s a trip, man, because I’m more about science than religion, but he talks about seeing that light and being pulled to it. It offered him eternal comfort, is how he described it. Radical, right? And then the light moved and he saw his family and his work and his life. And he had a choice. You either go toward eternal comfort or stay here and be responsible. He leaned toward responsibility, and that’s when he came out of it and saw people around him.
PLAYBOY: Did hearing that make you less afraid of death?
SHEEN: It confused me deeply. I’ve always been a little skittish about death. On certain days I’m okay with it. On other days it’s like, “Really? I have to? No, man, not me.” It must be the biggest trip because they save it for last, right? Who the hell knows? I don’t know what to expect. I mean, I’m not in any way religious. I don’t go to church, but I consider myself spiritual.
PLAYBOY: Spiritual in that you think something happens to our souls after we die?
SHEEN: Yeah. But I’m not talking about a heaven in the clouds. I think it’s all around us. I think it’s here. I think we’re still here in some different dimension. I think it’s like gills. I don’t know how else to describe it. I think it’s like gills that you sort of slide through.
PLAYBOY: So it’s not like ghosts? There are no dead relatives hanging around?
SHEEN: Hey, we’re on a fucking rock flying 67,000 miles an hour through space, spinning on its own axis with a moon that won’t go away, around a star that’s burning out, and for some reason we’re positioned perfectly. Anything’s possible. Ghosts, sure, I’ve seen them. I’ve been in hotels with them.
PLAYBOY: Ghosts of people you know?
SHEEN: Sometimes. When my friend [Wild Orchid and 9½ Weeks writer] Zalman King died, I went to comfort his widow, Pat. We were making a toast, and I saw Zalman, who’d been dead for four hours, dance through the background. It was a trip. People are going to read this and go, “Pfft. More meds for Sheen.” Whatever, man. I know what I saw. Another dear friend of mine, Stephanie, her father died. I was at her house, and he walked past me on the stairwell one day.
PLAYBOY: The ghost of Stephanie’s dad?
SHEEN: Yep. I know it was him. I have no doubt. I’m not fucking high or experimenting with psychedelics and shit. I just accept stuff like that and don’t try to figure it out. I saw these people, or their spirits or whatever, for a reason. I don’t know what the reason is right now, but maybe it’ll be revealed some other time.
PLAYBOY: Are you planning to grow old gracefully?
SHEEN: Nope, no way. Because I refuse to grow up. I won’t become the adult guy.
PLAYBOY: But you can’t stop old age from happening, unless you check out early.
SHEEN: I don’t want that either.
PLAYBOY: Could you see yourself at 90 as the old guy whose life is pretty much over but who has the best stories?
SHEEN: That I’d be fine with. As long as I’ve got people I love who still want to hear my stories. It’s all about the stories we can tell 20 years from now. That’s been the good and bad of my life. I’ve been out with people who are like, “I’ve got to go home.” And I’ll say, “What’s a better story in 20 years, that you went home and slept or this night continued?” And they’re always like [sighs], “All right, I’ll go.” You can put people’s feet to the fire a bit just by reminding them that we’re constantly creating our own history.
PLAYBOY: Some of your stories probably sound like fiction.
SHEEN: I’m sure, yeah. Sometimes it feels like it all happened to somebody else. I’ll read about it in a magazine and it’s been run through this whole machine. It’s processed and propagandized and skewed. And then it has this life of its own, in addition to what it might’ve actually been.
PLAYBOY: But when you’re an old man surrounded by grandchildren, the only version they’ll hear is yours.
SHEEN: Yeah, I guess that’s true. I kind of like that romantic image of being in a rocker with my family gathered around, all these generations in one room, listening intently to my stories. “Tell us one more, Grandpa Sheen. Tell us about the time you got banned from the Radisson for putting a cheeseburger in the air-conditioning vent.” And I’ll be like, “Well, actually, there was a small fire involved too. But it’s getting late, kids. It’s almost six p.m. We’ll pick this up tomorrow.” [laughs] Yeah, I like that. [pauses and smiles] I think I’d be okay with that.