Martin Sheen may be costarring in a boxing movie, The Kid: Camacho, but he’s no fan of the sport.
In The Kid, part of the Maya Indie Film Series, the 70-year-old Hollywood icon plays a doctor at a Mexico City clinic, trying to make up for a past medical mistake. He and his son — with whom he is estranged — reunite to help train a young boxer who has serious potential in the ring.
Shooting the pugilistic film was intense, but nothing like real life. Sheen was in the audience at Madison Square Garden during the 1962 prize fight between Benny “The Kid” Paret and Emile Griffith. Paret later died from the blows.
“After that, I was turned off — the sweat and the blood and the viciousness of it,” Sheen said from by phone from L.A. “I couldn’t believe the sound of someone getting hit.”
Though Sheen doesn’t mind the occasional boxing movie. Like Raging Bull, helmed by one of his favorite directors Martin Scorcese, who Sheen worked iwth most recently in The Departed. “Boy, is he wonderful, you’re working with a real master. It makes all the difference.”
Departed was a big, albeit late, career high; he enjoys working with young talent. “These guys [Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg] were so different than the guys I came up with,” said the former West Wing star, whose first film was 1967’s thug drama The Incident. “They were conscientious and disciplined,not full of themselves like we were.”
Sheen’s biggest achievement, though, remains the 1979 Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now. “It was the most difficult and took the heaviest toll but gave me the most exposure,” says the Ohio native. “It made everything else that followed possible.”
These days, Sheen is content to do the occasional film, relax at home watching old black and white movies with his wife Janet of almost 50 years and enjoy his family.
He has four kids (everyone knows Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen) and a handful of grandchildren.
Despite Charlie’s problems over the years, the two remain close.”It’s a struggle,” Sheen admits. “He brings himself down and drags us along. God love him. He fights his demons like anybody else but because of his profile it’s always in public. It’s an added burden. ”
Dad is a big fan of both sons’ work. He just finished his fourth film with Emilio about a pilgrimage in Spain called The Way and watches Two and a Half Men when he can.
Of Charlie’s humor: ‘‘We’ve been seeing it ever since he was a little boy. It’s so subtle, he just throws it out there. It takes a lot of talent to make it look so easy. Like a wire walker.”
But your kids are your kids — for better or for worse. “These babies are extraordinary. You have to accept your children. Some-times they don’t come in pleasant packages, but they’re always a gift.”