Charlie Sheen and ‘Apocalypse Now’: A Lasting Obsession

Charlie Sheen and Apocalypse Now: A Lasting Obsession
Martin Sheen says he understands the recent hell his son Charlie has been going through, because he’s been there. As he told the U.K.’s Telegraph March 21, he’s experienced his own “psychotic episodes,” including some in public.

“One of them was on camera: the opening scene of Apocalypse Now,” the elder Sheen said. “And when you do something like that, that is out of control, that’s the most difficult thing.”

“Out of control” might be a good way to describe Charlie Sheen’s behavior in recent weeks. After tales of drug abuse, parties with porn stars and trashed hotel rooms led to his getting fired from the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, the actor went on the offensive. In recent weeks he’s given a series of erratic interviews, started a massively successful Twitter feed and announced a 22-city tour, launching this weekend in Detroit, called “Charlie Sheen LIVE: My Violent Torpedo of Truth.”

But to close observers it is his father’s words that might reshape the current Charlie Sheen discussion. Indeed, a striking number of Sheen’s recent antics can be tied in one way or another directly back to the 1979 war epic that made his father famous.

Consider: In a late-February interview, Sheen showed off a tattoo on his stomach reading “Death from Above,” a phrase on the playing cards that Robert Duvall’s character, Lieut. Colonel Bill Kilgore, threw on his victims. Sheen has claimed that he has a TV in his house that plays the movie on a continuous loop. “I have what I call the Apocalypse Now channel,” he said on the debut of his Ustream show, Sheen’s Korner. “People might think it’s a DVD — [it’s not]! It’s just streaming Apocalypse Now all day long.”

Then there’s the startling photo of Sheen wielding a machete on his rooftop, eerily similar to the movie’s final scenes in which his father’s character, Captain Benjamin Willard, uses the weapon against the mad Colonel Walter Kurtz . Or the Sheen tweet quoting Kilgore’s now famous line about the smell of napalm in the morning. Sheen also reportedly wants to title his autobiography Apocalypse Me: The Jaws of Life. Meanwhile the term ApocaSheen Now has already been added to the Urban Dictionary website.