Profile: Charlie Sheen, actor

CHARLIE Sheen was the busiest out-of-work actor in Hollywood last week. The former star of the CBS sitcom Two And A Half Men whipped up a media firestorm when he appeared on television and radio to insult his boss and defend his degenerate lifestyle.

He signed up to Twitter, calling himself an "unemployed winner" and reached one million followers in a record 25 hours and 17 minutes.

Outwardly Sheen appeared to be upbeat and basking in the attention. But his bizarre outbursts and erratic behaviour have given rise to fears that the highest paid actor in American television is self-combusting in spectacular fashion.

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In the past seven days, Sheen has publicly attacked his former boss, Chuck Lorre, describing him as a deplorable charlatan; boasted that he lives in a polygamous relationship with a porn star and a marijuana magazine cover girl; had a restraining order taken out against him by his former wife, who claimed he threatened to cut off her head; and videotaped police taking away his twin sons for their own protection.

His anti-Semitic rant against Lorre, the creator of Two And A Half Men, lost him his job when CBS announced the cancellation of the rest of the season of one of America's top-rated shows. Sheen was unrepentant. "I have defeated this earthworm with my words - imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists," he said.

The 45-year-old actor, who has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, went on to brag about the amount of cocaine he consumed. "I probably took more than anyone could survive. I was bangin' seven-gram rocks and finishing them because that's how I roll. I have one speed, one gear," he said. "The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards look like droopy-eyed, armless children."

Now he insists he is clean, agreeing to be tested on TV to prove it. He also refutes suggestions he is suffering from a mental illness. "I'm not bipolar," he said. "I'm bi-winning. I win here and I win there."

His father, the actor Martin Sheen, said he is praying for his troubled son. "The disease of addiction is a form of cancer and you have to have an equal measure of concern and love and lift them up, so that's what we do for him," he said. His son was scathing in his response. "I have a disease? Bullshit. I cured it with my mind," he said.

Sheen's current meltdown began last October when police found him drunk and naked in a trashed New York hotel suite with a porn star. His spokesman blamed his actions on an allergic reaction to medication. The following month, Brooke Mueller, Sheen's third wife and the mother of his twin sons, filed for divorce.

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In January this year the internet was abuzz with reports that Sheen had gone on a three-day bender in Las Vegas and hadn't shown up for work. Nina Tassler, the head of entertainment at CBS, said the network had "a high level of concern" for the star. Five weeks ago he was rushed to hospital suffering severe abdominal pains. His spokesman said it was a hernia injury, but reports soon emerged of a 36-hour drink and drugs-fuelled binge at his home. Production of his television show was suspended and Sheen voluntarily entered rehab for the third time in 12 months. When he resurfaced last week he was defiant. "I'm tired of pretending I'm not special. I'm tired of pretending I'm not a total bitchin' rock star from Mars," he said.

Carlos Irwin Estevez was born in 1965 and grew up in Malibu with two brothers and a sister. He was a gifted baseball player but a poor student. He got expelled from Santa Monica High School a few weeks before graduation for bad grades and skipping classes.

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Winning his first role at the age of nine in his father's 1974 film, The Execution of Private Slovik, he took his time deciding to pursue acting full time, but once the choice was made he adopted the same stage surname as his father. Early in his career Sheen showed promise. He won critical acclaim for appearances in Platoon, Wall Street and Hot Shots! But the big film roles dried up when his personal life started to overshadow work.

His former fiance, Kelly Preston, broke off their engagement in 1990 after he accidentally shot her in the arm. He had a series of relationships with porn stars. Heidi Fleiss, the Hollywood madam, told a court that Sheen had spent 31,000 in her brothels. In 1996 he was arrested for assaulting a woman. Two years later he overdosed on cocaine, prompting his father to report him for a parole violation.

In 2002 Sheen married the actress Denise Richards. They have two daughters, Sam and Lola. In 2005, while pregnant with Lola, Richards filed for divorce, citing Sheen's drinking, drug abuse and threatening behaviour. The couple fought an acrimonious custody battle. Three years later, Sheen married Mueller, and their twin sons, Bob and Max, were born 23 months ago.

Away from the domestic drama and addiction issues, Sheen does fundraising work for the charity, Aid for Aids. More contentiously he has also become a prominent supporter of the 9/11 Truth Movement, a group of conspiracy theorists who believe the American government was behind the attack on the Twin Towers.

With his film career stalled, Sheen found his niche in television. He appeared as a charming womaniser in the comedy, Spin City, and went on to star in Two And A Half Men, where he earned a record 1.1 million per episode.

As last week's scandal escalated, Sheen was handed a court order stating he must stay 100 yards away from Mueller and their sons. The boys, who had been staying with Sheen and his two girlfriends Bree Olson and Natalie Kenly, were removed from his home by police officers on Tuesday. Afterwards Sheen vowed to get the boys back, adding: "My fangs are dripping tiger blood."

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For now Sheen appears to be on a collision course that could destroy him. But his friends and family must hope that he can still turn his life around, as so many disgraced celebrities have before him. After all, in Hollywood everyone loves a good comeback.

Facts of life

• As a boy, Sheen made amateur films with school friends Rob Lowe and Sean Penn.

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• His father, Martin Sheen, adopted his stage name and the name that his son was later to use in honour of the Catholic archbishop and theologian, Fulton J Sheen.

• Oliver Stone, who directed Wall Street and Platoon, approached Sheen to star in his film Born On The Fourth Of July, then changed his mind and cast Tom Cruise, right. Sheen learned from his brother, Emilio Estevez, that he'd lost the role.

• Sheen began raising money for Aids charities to show support for Ryan White, an American teenager who became a spokesman for Aids awareness after contracting the infection through a blood transfusion.

• For several years Sheen was the celebrity judge at the Aid for Aids annual fundraiser, Best in Drag Show, in Los Angeles.

• Sheen has had three Emmy nominations for his work in Two And A Half Men but no wins. His co-star Jon Cryer won the show's only acting Emmy in 2009.