'Anger' a Sheen family reunion

JORDAN RIEFE, Special to QMI Agency

Charlie Sheen didn't need much inspiration to play a guy with issues. But -- his goddesses long gone -- he did require support.

So his new sitcom Anger Management -- debuting Sunday on CTV following the Olympics closing ceremony -- marks a family reunion for Sheen after 2011's Two-and-a-Half Men debacle and his ridiculously public meltdown.

His father, Martin Sheen, has signed on for a recurring role as his son's fictional father. And even his ex-wife Denise Richards is guest-starring on the series, which premiered to record ratings this past June in the U.S.

Sheen stars as a disgraced baseball player who is forced to undertake an anger management class and then becomes a therapist himself.

"I brought it to Dad and he said, 'Whatever you need,' " the younger Sheen tells journalists in a Beverly Hills hotel. "A couple weeks later we had a script, and we loved it and shot it. I think it's the best episode we did."

One memorable scene features Martin reciting a speech from the Vietnam War classic Apocalypse Now, in which he starred.

Charlie, who was 13 at the time, remembers an extended visit to the shooting location in the Philippines where his father suffered a heart attack, holding up production for several weeks.

"I learned a lot about filmmaking. I learned a lot about life," Sheen says. "I learned a lot about survival, and yeah. It was just one of the experiences you can't plan or ever really completely understand why it happened."

Richards and Sheen married in 2002 and had two daughters before their 2006 divorce. Now, with their formerly irreconcilable differences reconciled, Sheen and producer Bruce Helford are planning to write her into future episodes.

"It was really nice to have Charlie's family on the set," Helford says. "The hours are horrifying "¦ So if we can bring our families there, it helps us to assuage some of the guilt."

Series television is usually appealing to actors because it affords them a steady job with regular hours. So why must Sheen and company endure such a grueling schedule? Because if the show gets picked up (which looks likely), their deal with FX in the U.S. calls for 90 episodes due over the next 18 months.

"I don't think 90 is gonna to be enough," Sheen says, laughing. "I said that outloud, didn't I?"

While shooting two episodes a week is a daunting task, the producers and cast -- including Selma Blair as Sheen's ex-therapist, and Shawnee Smith as his ex-wife -- feels it's energized the production.

"We didn't have time to over think it," Sheen says. "I'm amazed the damn thing's in focus."

As for the question of whether he's put his demons behind him, Sheen says, "It was a crazy time. And it was sort of like a dream I couldn't wake up from or some runaway train I couldn't get off of, but I was the conductor.

"So my life's different now that I'm not insane anymore."