Martin Sheen turns 80: a life dedicated to acting and social causes Source: AP

More than by the enumeration of the films he made, which were many, to Martin Sheen surely he would like much more to go through his life from the number of times he was detained for civil disobedience. He went through that situation at least 70 times, always peacefully. The last one was a few months ago, at the request of her friend. Jane Fonda.

In January of this year, almost the entire cast of the series Grace and Frankie He spent a few hours on a cold January morning in Washington, his hands tied by police wives after a sit-in in front of the United States Capitol, after a protest over government neglect against climate change. They were with Sheen Sam Waterston and, of course, Fonda, the most active organizer of those actions.

"Acting is what I do to live and activism is what I do to stay alive," he confessed a while ago. Sheen during a visit to the city of Dayton (Ohio). There he was born on August 3, 1940 the actor who turns 80 this Monday. The list of demands Sheen publicly protested throughout her life is as long as her artistic career. He did it against armed violence, the death penalty, racism, war and all kinds of genocide. At the same time, the defense of abortion, the social and labor rights of those most in need, support for the homeless and the environment also led him to some police station on many occasions.


Martin Sheen in Grace and Frankie Credit: Netflix

Sheen seems to have found in those causes and in the artistic work without fainting the formula to deny what the calendar could indicate. Your role in Grace and Frankie, as it is counted separately, it is pure vitality. The rest, according to his own confession, has to do with a positive attitude from the spiritual and a physical recovery that he achieved after a complex cardiac operation (four bypasses) that he underwent five years ago after a routine checkup.

He always says that he tries to project that behavior into his family life, marked by the same and widespread vocation. Sheen's real name is Ramón Antonio Gerard Estévez. He is one of the ten children of a man born in Galicia named Francisco Estévez, who emigrated to the United States and married the Irish Mary-Anne Phelan there.

He has been married since 1961 to actress and producer Janet Templeton. Four children were born from the marriage, all actors. Emilio, Ramón and Renée Estevez kept the original Hispanic last name. The only one who changed it was Carlos Estévez, who chose to be called Charlie Sheen. His hectic personal life always found words of understanding on his father's side.

Martin Sheen went straight from high school to the world of theater in New York and, to pursue his career, took the surname of the most famous of the American Catholic bishops, Fulton J. Sheen, very popular for the sermons it broadcast on radio and TV. The family had become accustomed to hearing these preaching, and young Martin adopted Catholicism. Today he says he lives it his way. "The thing is between God and me," he confessed a few years ago to the El País newspaper in Madrid.

That condition marked part of his career. We have seen Sheen many times on film and TV dressed in the classic priestly outfit. But his interpretive authority was exposed in a wide range of roles, from the marginal young man who lives a sort of tragic fairy tale in the masterful Badlands (1973), the directorial debut of Terence Malick, to one of the best American presidents in the entire history of film and television fiction, the Josiah Bartlet from the series The West Wing (1999-2006).

In the middle another memorable paper appears, that of Captain Willard, the military man who goes out to explore the heart of darkness in search of Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in Apocalypse now (1979). The look that Francis Ford Coppola He has in that extraordinary film of the Vietnam War reflected all the time in the eyes and memory of Willard. Sheen He suffered a heart attack while filming, victim of the excesses (drugs, alcohol) to which he resorted to assume a character that tormented him. It was one of the many examples of one of the most amazing and surreal films that are remembered.


Martin Sheen with his children Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez
Martin Sheen with his children Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez Source: AP

None of these three occurrences of Sheen is available in Argentina through the legal platforms of streaming. Another example of the ocean of absences that today has access to a certain essential memory of the history of cinema and TV. What is more, if we start searching in some depth, we will not directly find a minimal guide to Sheen's evolution on the screen throughout the local streaming map. Hardly a minimum sample, a handful of titles that have more of secondary appearance than of true protagonism. Either way, every time Sheen appears in a movie or series it's worth enjoying as a performer no matter how small her presence is.

Gandhi (1982, of Richard Attenborough)

In one of the latest blockbusters that deserve to be treated as such, Sheen plays a fictional character willing to testify to events that actually happened. Sheen is Vince Walker, a journalist for The New York Times whom we see accompanying first Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) in South Africa and then on the famous Salt March, a 300 kilometer walk that the Mahatma made as a call for civil disobedience and to non-violent protest against British colonialism. Walker is inspired by the true story of a New York newspaper chronicler named Webb Miller. The epic and testimonial spirit of the film continues and the character of Sheen contributes a lot to achieving it. Available on Netflix.

Catch Me If You Can (Catch Me If You Can, 2002; of Steven spielberg)

At times comedy, at times drama and great period portrait based on real events, the film focuses on the game of cat and mouse starring an accomplished swindler (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the obsessed policeman who pursues him (Tom Hanks). Sheen appears a couple of times in the middle of this long event and manages to catch the eye playing the father of the girl with whom the scammer aspires to form a couple. There is more than one meeting between DiCaprio and Sheen that is among the best of the story. Available on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Movistar Play.

City of silence (Bordertown, 2007; of Gregory Nava)

Released in theaters in Argentina as Bordertown: city on the edgeThis film is conceived with the classic desire to raise public awareness from the testimonial exposition of certain facts of flagrant social injustice that occur in real life: in this case the death of several women who work in almost inhumane conditions within of the precarious textile factories ("maquiladoras") installed on the border between Mexico and the United States. Sheen is the editor in charge of assigning an ambitious journalist (Jennifer Lopez) the task of investigating the facts. His role is below what the actor's talent can give, but it can be seen as an example of the way in which Hollywood cinema builds a denunciatory film with a strong guilty charge and a declamatory attitude that does nothing.


Martin Sheen marches at the Fire Drill Fridays rally, in front of the Capitol, to protest the climate emergency
Martin Sheen marches at the Fire Drill Fridays rally, in front of the Capitol, to protest the climate emergency Source: AFP

The way (The way, 2010; of Emilio Estevez)

A family work. The son leading the father in one of those stories that are considered "inspiring" and that also refer to the legacy and history of the Estévez family. A doctor in good standing, with his life made, learns that his son died while doing the Camino de Santiago. The man leaves everything and in tribute to his offspring he decides to complete the tour, which is a spiritual discovery for him. Sheen's character traces the footprint that the actor's father, born in Galicia, surely made before emigrating to the United States. "Doing the Camino de Santiago ignited a special concentration force in my life that has not abandoned me since then," said the actor, who spoke of that experience as that of "true inner transformation." The end of the pilgrimage, in the majestic Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, will surely thrill every believer. Available on HBO Go.

Grace and Frankie (2015-2021; created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris)

More than showing off alone, Sheen integrates perfectly into the leading quartet of this delicious, poignant and very enjoyable comedy that focuses from a truly original angle on what it means to enter the so-called "third age". What's more, he understands perfectly (like the other central male character, played by Sam Waterston) what needs to be done to avoid taking away the stellar place of the two great stars of the series (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) and how to adapt to the perfection to the elegant look of Kauffman, the creator of Friends. Sheen's Robert Hanson (a lawyer who after 40 years of marriage announces that he will marry his partner, leaving his wife and his wife forced into an uncomfortable coexistence) is a very attractive character, who the actor builds with patience, observation and words always said at the right time. That time that everyone takes to assemble a magnificent verbal fencing between four is one of the keys of this series that is pure intelligence and joy. Which explains its validity: it will culminate in 2021 with its seventh season, whose recordings were interrupted by the appearance of the Covid-19. Available on Netflix.

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. (tagsToTranslate) Martin Sheen turns 80: from political activism to love for his family – LA NACION

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