Martin Sheen Movies
has appeared in a wide variety of films ranging from the embarrassing to the sublime. In addition to appearing in numerous productions on stage, screen, and television, Sheen is the father of a modern dynasty of actors and a tireless activist for social and environmental causes, particularly homelessness. Born Ramon Estevez
on August 3, 1940, he was the seventh of ten children of a Spanish immigrant father and an Irish mother. Growing up in Dayton, OH, Sheen wanted to be an actor so badly that he purposely flunked an entrance exam to the University of Dayton so he could start his career instead. With his father's disapproval, he borrowed cash from a local priest and moved to New York in 1959.
While continually auditioning for shows, Sheen worked at various odd jobs and changed his name to avoid being typecast in ethnic roles. "Martin" was the name of an agent/friend, while he chose "Sheen" to honor Bishop Fulton J. Sheen; until his early twenties, the actor had been a devoted Catholic. He joined the Actor's Co-op, shared a loft, and with his roommates prepared showcase productions in hopes of attracting agents. For a while he worked backstage at the Living Theater alongside aspiring actor Al Pacino
, and it was there that he got his first acting jobs. Around that time, Sheen married, and in 1963 broke into television on East Side West Side; more television would follow in the form of As the World Turns, on which he played the character Roy Sanders for a few years.
In 1964, Sheen debuted on Broadway in Never Live Over a Pretzel Factory, and that same year won considerable acclaim for his role in The Subject Was Roses, which in 1968 became a film in which he also starred. After making his feature film debut as a subway punk in The Incident (1967), Sheen moved to Southern California in 1970 with his wife and three children. During the beginning of that decade, he worked most frequently in television, but occasionally appeared in films as a supporting actor or co-lead. His movie career aroused little notice, though, until he played an amoral young killer (based on real life murderer Charles Starkweather) in Terrence Malick
's highly regarded directorial debut, Badlands
(1973). Further notice came in the mid-'70s, when the actor was cast by Francis Ford Coppola
to star in a Vietnam War drama filmed in the Philippines. Two years and innumerable disasters later -- including a near-fatal heart attack for Sheen -- the actor's most famous film, Apocalypse Now
(1979), was complete, and it looked as if he would finally become a major star.
Although the film won a number of honors, including a Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, and Sheen duly gained Hollywood's respect, he never reached the heights of some of his colleagues. This was possibly due to the fact that during the 1970s and 1980s, he appeared in so many mediocre films. However, Sheen turned in memorable performances in such films as Ghandi (1982) -- from which the actor donated his wages to charity -- and Da
(1988), in which he took production and starring credits. He also did notable work in a number of other films, including Wall Street
(1987), The American President
(1995), and Monument Ave.
(1998). In 1999, he could be seen in a number of projects, including Ninth Street
and Texas Funeral
, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival that year; O, a modern-day adaptation of Othello; and The West Wing, a television series that cast him as the President of the United States (a role for which he would win the Best TV Series Actor in a Drama Award at the 2000 Golden Globe Awards).
Sheen took a supporting role in legendary director Martin Scorsese's crime drama The Departed, and joined the cast of Talk to Me, a 2007 comedy drama directed by Don Cheadle. In 2009, Sheen starred in The Kid: Chamaco, a boxing drama following a father (Sheen) and son's attempt to reconcile their differences to turn a fierce streetfighter into a boxing champion. The following year he would join son Emilio for The Way, an adventure drama featuring Sheen as a grieving father determined to make the pilgrimage to the Pyrenees in honor of his late son. The actor took on yet another lead role in Stella Days (2011), a drama that takes place in the 1950s and stars Sheen as a progressive Irish priest who causes a stir by opening a local movie theater.
In 1986, Sheen made his directorial debut with the Emmy-winning made-for-TV movie Babies Having Babies
. All three of his sons, Emilio Estevez
, Ramon Estevez
, and Charlie Sheen
(whom he directed in 1991's Cadence
), as well as his daughter, Renee Estevez, are movie and television actors. His brother, Joe Estevez
, also dabbles in acting. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
Frank D. Gilroy's Pulitzer-winning "kitchen sink" theatrical piece The Subject Was Roses was given a no-frills film transference in 1968. Martin Sheen and Jack Albertson re-create their stage roles as a returning serviceman and his alcoholic father. Patricia Neal takes over from the play's Irene Dailey as Nettie Cleary, Timmy's (Sheen) overly protective mother, long at odds with husband John (Albertson) over his drinking. Mother and Father try to put on a facade of happiness for the benefit of their son, but soon the three of them are squabbling again, just as if the boy had never been away. With the exception of adding a few extraneous characters, the film version of The Subject Was Roses is essentially the same as its 1964 Broadway counterpart. The film helped establish the career of Martin Sheen, launched a whole new dramatic career for Jack Albertson, and represented a triumphant comeback for Patricia Neal, who'd recently recovered from a debilitating stroke. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Patricia Neal, Jack Albertson, (more)
The FBI launches a search for the thieves who stripped the abandoned car owned by wealthy kidnap victim John Graham (Jim McMullan). Inspector Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) hopes that the thieves may have witnessed the crime and will be able to identify the abductor. Meanwhile, efforts to negotiate Graham's safe release hit a snag when the victim's brother Philip (Russell Johnson) refuses to pay the $300,000 ransom. In a fascinating bit of casting, the uncle-and-nephew team of kidnappers is played by Edward Asner and Martin Sheen. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
This pilot film for the 1969-1970 TV series Then Came Bronson stars Michael Parks in the title role. A young, ambitious journalist, Bronson realigns his priorities after his best friend (Martin Sheen) commits suicide. Borrowing a page from Kerouac, Bronson gives up the rat race for the road. He mounts his friend's motorcycle, speeding up and down the California coastline in search of life's meaning. Along the way, he meets a runaway bride (Bonnie Bedelia) who briefly joins him on his odyssey. The best sequence takes place in a nomad encampment, presided over by Zorba-like Akim Tamiroff. Everyone who grew up in the late-'60s seems to have fond memories of the series; why, then, was the show canceled after only one season? ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Bonnie Bedelia, Akim Tamiroff, (more)
Martin Sheen may be the Grey Eminence of movies nowadays, but back in 1967 he often as not played switchblade-wielding punks. This he does, in the company of Tony Musante, in The Incident. After mugging a helpless old man, Sheen and Musante take over a subway car, terrorizing its occupants. In Stagecoach fashion, all the best and worst qualities of the passengers are brought to the surface by the presence of danger. Among the passengers are angry black man Brock Peters and his supplicative wife Ruby Dee, ex-alcoholic Gary Merrill, timorous Jewish couple Jack Gilford and Thelma Ritter, blowhard Ed McMahon, and homosexual Robert Fields. It is furloughed army private Beau Bridges who puts an end to Sheen and Musante's reign of terror. Based on Ride with Terror a 1963 TV play by Nicholas E. Baehr, The Incident is an unpleasant but undeniably fascinating character study. And yes, that cute young blonde playing Alice Keenan is Donna Mills. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Tony Musante, Martin Sheen, (more)
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Jack Landau directed this 1966 televised production of Tennessee Williams' fantastical one-act play. In it, Martin Sheen stars as Kilroy, an American GI who finds himself in the surreal landscape of a fictitious Latin American nation where he interacts with several characters who have fallen into meaningless and destitute lives. The play also features performances by Tom Aldredge, Michael Baseleon, Albert Dekker, Hurd Hatfield, Kazimir Kokich, and Lotte Lenya. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi
- Martin Sheen
In the tenth volume in a collection culled from the 1963-1965 science fiction anthology television series, a group of international strike-force soldiers is captured by an alien culture. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
Engineer Alan Maxwell (Cliff Robertson) is using his commercial radio station's antenna to probe into deep space in experiments of his own, in the course of which he makes contact with a being (William O. Douglas, Jr.) from the great nebula in the constellation Andromeda. Through an accident, the alien is transported to Earth, where its radioactive emanations prove lethal to all who come in contact with it. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi