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Martin Sheen Has HUGE Regrets After 60 Years in the Industry

In 1968, a young up-and-coming actor by the name of Martin Sheen appeared in a groundbreaking adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in New York City.

That show was the creation of Free Shakespeare in the Park founder Joseph Papp, and it’s aim was to revolutionize the timeless tragedy with a contemporary spin and hip rock music soundtrack.

This performance, which was called The Naked Hamlet or Hamlet as a Happening, was met with glowing praise and ultimately helped launch Sheen’s acting career. In the following years, he would appear in successful films such as Badlands and Apocalypse Now.

On TV, he would play the US President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing and, more recently, as the character Robert Hanson in the Netflix original series Grace and Frankie, which just wrapped up it’s 7-season run in April 2022.

Sheen was born in Dayton, Ohio, and was originally named Ramon Estevez.

Both of his parents were immigrants. His father hailed from Spain, while his mother was born in Ireland. He later adopted his stage name to help him gain acting parts, but that would be one – among many – career decisions that he would later come to deeply regret.

Join Facts Verse as we take a look back at Martin Sheen’s six-decade career in the entertainment industry while revealing what he says are some of his biggest regrets.

Martin Seen Was Persuaded To Change His Name

Martin Sheen had a challenging upbringing. During birth, his left arm was crushed by forceps, leaving him with a condition called Erb’s palsy that severely limited the lateral movement of that arm. It also resulted in his arm being three inches shorter than the other.

Sheen’s father was a factory worker at the National Cash Register Company. Being an immigrant from Spain, Sheen’s dad knew that he had to work hard if he wanted to provide a decent life for his wife and ten children.

For a while, Sheen’s father’s work required him and his family to live in Bermuda. After returning back to Dayton, Ohio, Sheen contracted polio and was bedridden for a year. In time, his doctor was able to help him regain use of his legs.

When Sheen was 11 years old, his mother suddenly died, and he and his siblings suddenly faced the possibility of having to split up and live in foster homes and orphanages. It was through the help of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dayton that his family was able to stay together.

Sheen felt drawn to acting from an early age, but his father wasn’t approving of his interest in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. Martin doesn’t blame his dad for this, however, as he knew that he only wanted what he thought was best for his son. And being an immigrant, he knew how difficult it was for someone of his ethnicity to succeed in America at the time.

Sheen borrowed a bit of money from a Catholic priest and made his way out to New York City when he was in his early 20s. He hoped that once he was in the Big Apple, he would be able to make it as an actor.

For two years, he performed with the Living Theatre company. It was around this time that he was persuaded to adopt his stage name, Martin Sheen. The name came from a combination of the name of the CBS casting director that gave him his big break, Robert Dale Martin, and a Catholic televangelist archbishop named Fulton J. Sheen.

Sheen would later explain that he chose to change his name after experiencing several instances in which he would call for an audition appointment only to experience some hesitancy after stating his name. Once he would actually make it to the appointment, however, and the casting directors would realize that he was ‘white passing’, all of that initial hesitancy would be gone.

So, figuring that he already had enough trouble getting acting jobs, he went ahead and invented the name Martin Sheen.

Officially, his name is still Ramon Estevez, as he never had it legally changed, but after he started making a living using his stage name, there was no going back.

Sheen says that one of his biggest regrets is that he didn’t keep using the name that was given to him. He further revealed that the fact that he had chosen another name was something that always bothered his father while he was still alive.

Martin’s Son Kept His Name

Emilio Estevez is best known for being a member of John Hughe’s famed Brat Pack group of teen actors who appeared in coming-of-age films like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles.

Other members of that iconic group of teenage actors include Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall.

In The Breakfast Club, Estevez played Andrew Clark, a young jock in his high school’s wrestling program, alongside other Brat Packers, including Judd Nelson, who played the rebellious bad-boy, John Bender.

Besides The Breakfast Club, Estevez has also appeared in film’s like St. Elmo’s Fire, The Mighty Ducks, and The Outsiders.

Both of Emilio’s parents, along with his three siblings all found success in Hollywood, but some might not realize this fact due to Estevez’s contrasting last name.

While his father, Martin Sheen, adopted a stage name to avoid being type-cast and his siblings, Ramon and Charlie, both chose to adopt the Sheen professionally, Emilio never considered following suit.

Charlie’s birth name was actually Carlos Estevez, but by the time that he was getting into acting in the early 80s, his father Martin had already become a well-known figure in Hollywood. Instead of trying to pave a way for himself under a different name, Charlie decided to go with the flow so to speak, and adopt his dad’s name as well.

The former Two and a Half Men star, however, would later decide to drop his stage name when appearing in Robert Rodrguez’s 2003 film Machete Kills.

Unlike his brother, Emilio decided against using the last name Sheen for his acting work. In 2020, he told the Guardian that while his father ‘earned his name’ he hadn’t. He also expressed that he liked the way his double E initials looked.

Even though he refused to adopt his famous father’s stage name, Emilio still was able to find success in the film industry. While his brother Ramon initially used the last name Sheen professionally, he has since reverted back to using his birth name.

Emilio’s sister Renee likewise has chosen to follow his example by using the name Estevez in her professional career.

Emilio can be seen as Billy the Kid in the upcoming neo-Western film Guns III: Alias: Billy The Kid, which is slated hit theaters on August 3, 2022.

Martin Sheen Still Regrets Turning Down Silence Of The Lambs

Despite having a prolific Hollywood career, Martin Sheen has a few regrets about some of the roles he has either chosen to do or has turned down over the years.

Sheen was originally offered the role of Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, but he turned it down because he was concerned about potential violence that might ensue.

He told Page Six that he was really torn at the time because while he loved the script, he was worried that someone would be inspired by the film to actually kill someone and use their skin to make a lampshade.

He had the foresight to know that the film would be an ‘enormous hit’, but after starring in Apocalypse Now, he wanted to instead go with a lighter-hearted role.

Sheen explained to Page Six that he had already felt like he had killed enough people in Apocalypse Now. Incidentally, the role of Jack Crawford instead ended up going to his co-star in that film Scott Glenn.

Besides Silence of the Lambs, Sheen has also turned down roles in Blade Runner and Anthony Hopkin’s Magic. He turned down the latter because the script called for the actor to bash his agent’s brains out with a puppet.

Instead of going with Silence of the Lambs, Sheen instead signed on to appear in Ann of Green Gables.

The Apocalypse Now Scene Sheen Regrets

Apocalypse Now has been called one of the best war films of all time. But apparently, it wasn’t an easy film to make. Constant production setbacks coupled with rampant alcohol and substance abuse on set made things very difficult for everyone involved in the movie.

In fact, it was one booze-fueled scene involving Martin Sheen that the actor says he regrets filming. The scene in question introduced the audience to Captain Williard having a drunken breakdown in a hotel room.

The character proceeds to break a mirror and smear blood on himself. It’s a pivotal scene that sets the mood for the rest of the film and immediately clues the audience in on the character’s troubles.

Behind the scenes, however, Sheen had his very own on-set meltdown while filming the scene because he was actually drunk at the time of filming it.

After returning back to the hotel room the day after the scene was filmed, Sheen felt intense shame and terror at the sight of the shattered mirror and the blood-covered bed. Francis Ford Coppola insisted that he review the footage, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Sheen has said, however, that he finally saw the scene after Apocalypse Now premiered.

Martin Sheen has appeared in over 70 films throughout his career. But just recently, he told The Mirror that 9 out of 10 of his movies weren’t any good. He went on to tell the UK outlet that he had done the majority of his film roles purely for the money.

Even if that’s true, there simply is no denying that Sheen has appeared in some truly fantastic films and television shows. From Apocalypse Now to Gandhi and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Martin Sheen’s list of career credits are pretty impressive.

What’s your favorite Martin Sheen film? And do you think he should have stuck with his birth name, or do you think that would have held him back from becoming the star that he is today? Let us know in the comments section down below.

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