Jon Cryer Recalls Wanting to End 'Two and a Half Men' Amid Charlie Sheen's Downward Spiral (Exclusive)
By Zach Seemayer
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It's been seven years since Two and a Half Men aired its series finale, and closed the book on a 12-season run filled with more behind-the-scenes drama than most soap operas. Now, star Jon Cryer is looking back at his time on the show, and the infamous high-profile blow-up with his longtime co-star Charlie Sheen.
Cryer recently sat down with ET's Kevin Frazier and looked back on the drama and downward spiral that almost brought the megahit sitcom to an untimely end.
"In the early years, the life with Charlie Sheen was great. We got along great, he had been sober for two years when we started the show, and it was really important to him to keep sober," Cryer shared. "And for those first few years, the show was also going so smoothly."
As Cryer recalled, he was "struck by how great Charlie Sheen was at performing in front of an audience," because being a movie star and being a TV star with a live audience to play to are very different skills. "He just had it straight out of the box like it was genetically programmed into his body. That was fun and very self-assured."
"For those first couple of years, it was, you know, an incredible joy," he shared.
Throughout the show, Cryer said Sheen had other projects and obligations, but he "understood that coming back to the show was home, and it was great."
"Then, in later years, when we started noticing things were getting stranger for him, and his marriage fell apart, he was still lovely to work with, he still showed up on time and knew his lines and was doing the job. But you could tell that there was some trouble brewing," Cryer said.
"He started to have issues with the writing and sometimes issues with the writing that I didn’t understand. I would say, 'This is the kind of joke you had no problem with a year and a half ago, and suddenly now it's an issue?' So, you know, it was very subtle," Cryer recalled. "It took it it took a while before it started really going off the rails."
"It was such a crazy firestorm. Even internationally, you know? It was like the biggest thing," Cryer said.
As Sheen's public statements got increasingly incendiary and unpredictable, Cryer said he and Lorre seriously considered ending the show, as to not facilitate his behavior.
"I think there was a moment where Chuck Lorre and I were looking at each other and we said, 'It's not worth this show going on if going on enables Charlie Sheen to kill himself. If giving him enough money to do whatever the thing is that ends his life, you know, we don't want to be a part of that,'" he explained. "And I think, actually, when Charlie was let go from the show, the first thought amongst most of us was, 'OK, we're done. This has been a great thing but we're done at this point.'"
However, Lorre had a different idea. The show ended up killing off Sheen's character and brought on Ashton Kutcher for some new blood.
"He was just so positive every day and just brought so much to the table that we were all a little shell shocked after the Sheen craziness," Cryer said. "We had forgotten how tense we were all the time we were all waiting for the next shoe to drop. And once Ashton came in with this just incredible positive energy, we all went, 'Oh, this can be fun again!'"
Despite the rollercoaster of drama and tension, Cryer explained, "There was never a moment where I said the show's not worth it for me. Because the show, for me, was great. I loved working on it."
Cryer says he still keeps in touch with Kutcher but not with Sheen.
"We went our separate ways, you know it’s, you kind of have to decide how much Charlie Sheen do I want in my life, you know?" he said with a laugh. "And I wish him well. I’m glad that his health has rebounded, I think that’s great, you know? I hope nothing but success for the guy."