Opinion

Charlie Sheen And A Time Of Mercy

Mary Claire Kendall Author, Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends

“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” — G.K. Chesterton

Once upon a time in Hollywood, stars’ transgressions stayed out of the news.

If Jack Warner and other moguls said it ‘stays inside the studio gate,’ it did. Oh sure, there were the exceptions. But, by and large, the studio bosses dictated what hit the papers.

No need to pay money to keep the story under wraps, usually. Unlike today when money is god and mercy is gone.

Which brings us to Charlie Sheen.

He is, of course, the son of Martin Sheen, and is known for Wall Street (1987) and the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men (2003-2015).

Born Carlos Irvin Estevez on September 3, 1965, he came into this world at the height of the sexual revolution; rose to stardom when tabloid news had lost its last vestiges of propriety; and guzzled the kool aid. Now, he is dealing with the fallout. And, he’s doing it thoughtfully as reflected in his November 17th interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show in which he revealed his HIV positive status. His diagnosis four years ago was a “turning point,” he said.

Without question. What a difference five years makes.

Back in the fall of 2010, a prostitute and porn star Sheen was spending the night with stole his Rolex watch. Allegedly high on cocaine, he then trashed their Plaza Hotel suite, prompting a call to police.

TMZ wasn’t far behind.

On November 1, 2010, the thrice married, twice divorced star and father of five, (now a grandfather) filed for divorce from his third wife. By March, he was out of a job after the network canceled the last four episodes of his hit sitcom. While Sheen insisted his at-home rehab was working — the January trip to the hospital was for an unrelated ailment, he said — it was, in fact, the end of a long road of dissipation that included dating a porn star in the early 90s and being named in Heidi Fleiss’ court case in 1995 as a patron of her brothels.

Back in May 1998, when Sheen accidentally injected himself with an overdose of cocaine, also requiring hospitalization, his father issued a public appeal for prayers for his son. (He also reported him for violating his parole.)

The prayers seem to be working.

Then, too, his father has done more than pray. In 2010, just as Charlie’s problems were metastasizing, his other son, Emilio Estevez, and he, made The Way — their seventh such collaboration.

The Way is about a father, who travels to France to recover the body of his estranged son, who died in the Pyrenees during a violent storm — one day into his journey along  the 800 kilometer “El camino de Santiago,” i.e., “The Way of St. James.” His father, Tom, an American ophthalmologist, relives “The Way” to honor his son Daniel’s memory. His journey ends, Wizard of Oz-like, at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where, tradition has it, the remains of the apostle St. James are buried.

While a non-practicing Catholic at the beginning, by the end, after learning about the mystical meaning behind “The Way,” his father is alive with faith.

Martin Sheen, it seems, was imaging his own life and imagining the tragedy that could befall his son in a world where there is no mercy. Now, another kind of mogul, in the spiritual realm — Pope Francis — seeks to drench the world in mercy by calling for a “Year of Mercy” starting December 8.

Yes, the prayers seem to be working.

Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, is the author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends.