A collected, contrite Charlie Sheen appeared on “The Tonight Show” Thursday and told Jay Leno that the defining moment of realizing he had gone too far — during his spree of meltdown interviews and crazed Web videos — was the day he was officially terminated from CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.”
“Yeah, it was the day I got fired,” Sheen said in as calm a tone as if he was telling a story about being stuck in a really long line at the bank. “Yeah, from my big television show.”
“Okay,” said Leno, probably hoping for a more exciting answer. “So was that — “
“I thought I could come back,” Sheen said thoughtfully, adding: “Kind of like you did.”
“At least one of us got their job back,” Leno shot back.
That was about as controversial as it got. Sheen appeared markedly different from the chain-smoking, rambling man who captured headlines for weeks back in the spring during and after his “Men” firing with a series of ranting radio interviews and live-streaming webisodes.
Cool and collected, Sheen chuckled good-naturedly about being out of control at the time, along with some of his more famous lines: such as announcing he had “tiger blood and Adonis DNA” (they were just jokes, Sheen explained) and being “a rock star from Mars.”
“Well, maybe Mars was a little far,” Sheen agreed. “I don’t know what that was all about, Jay. I wish I could come out here and just explain it all to you and all these good people.”
After commercial break, Leno grilled Sheen on if he was still angry at CBS execs and producers for kicking him off the show.
“No,” Sheen insisted. “I would have fired my [heinie], too.”
“Do you feel maybe it got a little personal, and crossed the line?”Leno pressed.
Sheen agreed. “It was bad, and I own my part in that, and I just want to make everything right,” Sheen said emphatically.
The audience really liked that one — they burst into applause.
But Leno isn’t someone to just let a topic die. “Why would you have fired you? You said you would have fired yourself, why?
“I should have been a little more responsible about the condition I was showing up in,” Sheen admitted. “I was hitting my marks, I was delivering, but — maybe at a subpar level, you know?”
After Leno poked and prodded the subject a little longer — no, Sheen can’t get anyone from “Men” to return his phone calls, and yes, he would give his replacement, Ashton Kutcher, a hug and say “Make me proud, dude” — they moved on.
Mainly, to Sheen’s new show, “Anger Management,” which still doesn’t have a network, or really, it turns out, any details.
Leno wrapped up with a plug for Sheen’s highly publicized Comedy Central roast airing Monday night (right after the debut of the new, Sheen-free “Men”). Given his “roastable” life, Sheen said nothing was off-limits. Except for a joke about his mother — Sheen made the producers edit that part out.
UPDATE, Friday morning:
Charlie Sheen’s NBC media tour continued Friday morning with a previously-taped sitdown with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show. NBC’s Jeff Rossen, who conducted interviews with Sheen while he was on his meltdown interview spree earlier this year, somewhat gleefully replayed the events of the last year.
After a rehash of everything, (the goddesses, the tiger blood and Adonis DNA, the custody battle, the “Two and a Half Men” firing), a very mellow Sheen told Lauer he had no idea how his “episode” caused so much frenzy.
“I said some stuff, and it caught such traction globally...that I couldn’t really put out the fire, so I had to keep fueling it,” Sheen explained, seemingly bewildered. “It took on a life of his own...it was so silly, and people took it so seriously.”
After enough of that, Lauer zeroed in on his being fired from “Men”:
“Was there a thought in your mind, though, that they needed you so badly that you could behave pretty much any way you wanted and at some point they would have to come back in the end and mend fences?” Lauer asked.
“I thought for sure, ‘They can’t do this without me.’ I mean, come on, The show’s about this guy...” Sheen started to say, then switching gears to the first bit of annoyance. “Which is a little confusing, Matt, when you think about it. They create a show about a guy who’s a partier, that guy starts partying, then gets fired.”
“It’s like, make up your mind, people!”Sheen added, sounding like he was joking, but not really.
“Well, one’s a role, and one’s real life here,” Lauer pointed out, scoring a few laughs from people offstage.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Sheen agreed emphatically. “I guess the lines can get a little blurred, you know?
Assuring Lauer that he had just been joking about the tiger blood and Adonis DNA, and the whole thing was just a phase, Sheen continued to pleasantly explain that he’s a changed man who just wants to be with his family.
“You seem like a very different guy,” Lauer said, sounding somewhat disappointed.
“Sane?” Sheen guesed.
“I didn’t say that,” Lauer said. “But I’ll be perfectly honest, this wasn’t what I expected.”
Just like on “The Tonight Show,” Sheen went on to plug the Comedy Central roast and new show and his replacement Ashton Kutcher’s “charisma,” though expressed interest in appearing in “Men” again.
“The potential is there for one amazing guest appearance down the road,” Lauer said.
“I’ll be in the final episode,” Sheen predicted. “There was no body at the funeral. There was no urn,” he added, referring to the fact that his character has apparently been killed off on the show.
Lauer appeared confused, then caught on to Sheen’s train of thought. “We're talking about the character. You had me nervous for a second. I was thinking, ‘I thought we got past that, and you’re okay.’”