Hi Reddit!

My real name is Ramon Estevez, but you may know me as Mr. President from "The West Wing".

I'm here today to talk about my new film, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain. It's the true story of the worst industrial accident of the 20th Century. On December 3rd, 1984, toxic gas leaked from the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India and killed 12,000 men, women, and children overnight. Another 13,000 perished over the next 30 years due to still-contaminated water supplies and related birth-defects.

This film is particularly important to me, and I would encourage you to learn more about the tragedy here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

Thanks and please check out the film here on iTunes starting tomorrow, February 3rd: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/bhopal-a-prayer-for-rain/id955743061

And proof! http://i.imgur.com/uWZ1vQ8.jpg

EDIT 12:35 PST going to take a quick 15 minute break and I'll be back to answer your questions!

EDIT 2:09 PST Thanks everyone - I had a wonderful time (but this wasn't it). But seriously, thank you so much for your questions and your kind words. If you can, please go read up on the Bhopal disaster and see our film, Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain.

Comments: 1948 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

Kristin_Chenoweth3751 karma

Martin, I don't know if you remember, but you gave me rosary beads before a concert I was flying off to, from the set. I want you to know I still have them, I still carry them with me, and I think of you often.

My question is: do you miss me?

Martin_Sheen3212 karma

YES - of course I miss you! Just saw your extraordinary performance on PBS this past weekend. Thanks for thinking of me - I think of you often and fondly as well!

NCisawesome2573 karma

There is a rumor in the movie industry that in the opening sequence of "Apocalypse Now", the scene where you were drunk and punched the mirror, you were actually drunk and crying legitimately, and that you did not want that footage shown in the film, is this true?

Martin_Sheen3347 karma


Frajer2278 karma

did you want Charlie and Emilio to become actors ?

Martin_Sheen4006 karma

No and I still don't

rockies1091879 karma

Mr Sheen, I absolutely loved you as the illusive man in mass effect. Do you have any cool stories from working on the games? Thanks!

Martin_Sheen2479 karma

Thanks for the comment on the "illusive man" but in fact, I am an illusive man as the technology required to actually play the darned disc has completely eluded me.

JordanSM1065 karma

Wouldn't it be Elusive Man, then?

Martin_Sheen3636 karma

The pun would work better if this wasn't a text-based interview, now wouldn't it?

ajlposh1561 karma

Have you ever turned down a role you later wished you had taken?

Martin_Sheen2838 karma

Yep - Blade Runner.

rocker20141470 karma

Hi Martin,

Big fan of the West Wing and many others of your work.

Quick question, is the amazing way you put on a jacket as the president one of the characters traits or do you really look that awesome putting on a coat?


Martin_Sheen2597 karma

It's actually because of a birth defect - my left shoulder was crushed at birth which I've learned to accommodate.

Putting on a coat is one such accommodation. Gee, thanks for noticing.

Blairbear281149 karma

What are the chances of a Charlie/Emelio/Martin movie? It would be epic.

Martin_Sheen1554 karma

Wouldn't that be something!

stevenxdavis916 karma

Thank you for doing an AMA, Mr. President. You're known for being one of the finest actors who has never been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. However, I read on Wikipedia (so it must be true) that you declined an Oscar nomination for your role in Apocalypse Now. Is that true? If so, what led you to make that decision?

Martin_Sheen1514 karma

Actually, I've never been nominated for an Oscar. I've declined other nominations, but never an Oscar.

kdk12k2k12858 karma

Mr. Sheen, thank you so very much for doing this AMA.

The Way seemed like a very physically demanding picture and a very personal picture for you to do with Emilio. As hard as it may have been, did you enjoy the process of working with your son? Especially on a picture that relates to family lineage?

P.S. I recently saw Badlands for the first time and it was a fantastic film.

Martin_Sheen1380 karma

The Way is the best film I've ever done in my life and the most rewarding thanks to my son Emilio who wrote it for me and directed it as well. He was quite brilliant and I am eternally grateful.

AzBrah803 karma

The Departed is one of my favourite films. What was it like to work with Martin Scorsese and can you share any funny moments on set?


Martin_Sheen917 karma

It's one of my favorites too. The best part was working with one of my favorite directors, Martin Scorsese!

namenottaken778 karma

I've heard that your political leanings are quite different from those you portrayed as President Jed Bartlet. Is that true and did any of the arguments used in the West Wing force you to look at any specific issues differently?

Martin_Sheen1447 karma

I should say that gratefully, Aaron Sorkin envisioned the character as a liberal-democrat as well as catholic which reflected my own personal views with the exception of Capital Punishment - which I oppose.

mr_mcsonsteinwitz751 karma

What's next?

Martin_Sheen1617 karma

Created by Aaron Sorkin

richardwrinkle732 karma

Did you choose to go by Martin Sheen instead of Ramon Estevez when you started getting in the entertainment industry or was it suggested by people in the industry?

Martin_Sheen1370 karma

When I started in New York in 1959, there was a degree of prejudice against Hispanics. I took 'Martin' from the casting director at CBS, Robert Dale Martin and Sheen, I took from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen who was the first popular televangelist in America. I didn't always understand his theology or politics - I just though he was a magnificent "actor"! (we later became friends and I was very fond of him)

In fact, I have never legally changed my name, nor do I ever plan to. I love my name, Ramon Estevez, and even gave it to one of my sons who thankfully has never changed it.

fumblebuck660 karma

Mr. Sheen, you seem like the kinda guy who knows what kind of whiskey goes with which cigar. How wrong/right am I?

Martin_Sheen1838 karma

Not any more, fumblebuck. Not any more. Not since I quit drinking and smoking.

OhHelloPlease613 karma

Your cameo in Hot Shots: Part Deux, how did that all come together?

Martin_Sheen915 karma

It was Charlie's idea and his gift to me.

ThatSuperNerd577 karma

Thank you for the AMA Martin. What was the hardest or most emotional point for you in filming Bhopal? What do you want people to take away from the film?

Martin_Sheen941 karma

Ideally, I want people to come away vigilantly aware of potential industrial disasters and the negative consequences of ignorance, arrogance, and greed. When government and industry are not transparent regarding the environment and public health, we are all at risk.

We must be attentive to watchdogs and whistleblowers whose sole purpose is to warn the public of impending disasters.

Bhopal, Chernoby, Fukashima - what's next?

lurk_in_progress568 karma


Martin_Sheen1060 karma

The experience was extraordinary at the National University of Ireland. Unfortunately, I was able to only complete one semester but I happily accepted the honorary degree (which I still brag about).

lurk_in_progress448 karma


Prufrock451320 karma

It'll probably work out for you just like it did for him.

Xylem-up549 karma

Dropout here; really looking forward to being a TV president now!

Martin_Sheen1313 karma

Why not? Good luck!

Josiah_Bartlet517 karma

The AMA I have been waiting for.

Hi Martin, as is probably evident by my username, I am a massive fan of The West Wing and your character specifically. I have rewatched the series numerous times and will again. It was impossible to narrow down to one question so I will take whatever answer(s) I can get.

  • What are your thoughts on the show post-Sorkin? I believe 1-4 were the best but that 5-7 were still damn good television.

  • What is your favorite memory with John Spencer?

  • What is the funniest behind the scenes moment you can remember?

I guess I'll restrain myself and limit to three!

Martin_Sheen827 karma

Clearly, 1-4 were the best thanks in large part to Aaron Sorkin. And I agree that 5-7 were still damn good television thanks in large part to Eli Attie in my opinion.

Somebody once asked me on set, how many AA meetings I would go to on average. Just at that moment, John Spencer, a fellow member, walked in .I pointed at him saying "See that guy over there? Every time he says 'hello,' it's an AA meeting."

I'd often go into the make-up trailer just to give him a hard time which I thoroughly enjoyed doing: "Hey Johnny (I was the only one to call him Johnny) how are things?" And he'd usually get exasperated and say something like, 'Ahh well, you know, I upset so-and-so on set and now I gotta make amends today."

suaveitguy496 karma

I really loved your episode of Columbo, any memories of filming it you could share? Has the process of creating series tv changed a lot since then?

Martin_Sheen1078 karma

My fondest memory was when my "dead body" was discovered by one of my favorite actors, Vincent Price. He said "oh dear" which made me burst out laughing.

haysouz360 karma

Hi Mr. Sheen, nice to meet you. Can you tell us what's your favorite movie?

Martin_Sheen736 karma

East of Eden with my favorite actor, James Dean.

Mallay358 karma

Mr.President, what's next?

Martin_Sheen733 karma

Mallay, what's next? That's my line.

richardwrinkle306 karma

I just learned that you are 74 years old. I have seen many 74 year olds in my lifetime and you look a good decade younger then most. What is the secret? How do I prevent myself from looking like Tommy Lee Jones and more like you when I am in my 70's?

Martin_Sheen626 karma

I love Tommy Lee Jones - he's one of my favorite actors. I don't care how he looks. I'd love to work with him some day.

But to answer your question, I try to do yoga every day.

nkleszcz288 karma


You were one of the stars of one of my favorite lesser-seen movies, The Dead Zone, where you played the worst president ever. Do you have any fond memories of that shoot? Any interesting anecdotes working with Christopher Walken and David Cronenberg?

Martin_Sheen449 karma

Interesting anecdotes? Yes, it was my son Ramon who played the photographer that took the photo that lead to my demise.

Ochham276 karma

Hi Mr. Sheen, Thanks for taking questions from Reddit today.

I am a huge fan of The West Wing. How was it like working with John Spencer?

P.S. Bartlett For America

Martin_Sheen463 karma

Thanks for asking. I adored John Spencer and I still miss him. May he rest in peace.

dafukisdat246 karma

Mr. Sheen,

I just watched The Way, and I really liked it. I noticed sometimes you said things like "grathias," was that on purpose, or was it your subconscious Galithian accent taking over?

Martin_Sheen433 karma

No - it was my conscious memory of my father, Fransisco who was from Galithia, near Vigo.

furiousBobcat220 karma

Hello, Mr. Sheen! I'd like to congratulate you on your amazing and prolific career that spans six decades and contains my favorite TV show, as well as two of the most incredible films ever made. Your acting in any role, big or small, is always a joy to watch. I haven't even come close to viewing your entire body of work, but I watched The Way recently and loved it.

My question to you is about writing. In an interview once, you said something about words that has stuck with me ever since. The line was:

I'm always looking for words like musical notes, that are sung, that have a rhythm and a clarity and an image all their own.

In light of that, who is the best writer, outside of TV or film, you've ever come across?

Martin_Sheen483 karma

Thanks for your comments.

In my opinion, the best writer is Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Queen_LaQueefah209 karma

Have you read The Brothers Karamazov? It might be the greatest thing ever written

Martin_Sheen368 karma

I agree

Thestigsfatcousin194 karma

Mr. Sheen, please just allow me to say that I am a massive fan of your work. The West Wing in particular challenged the way I think about certain issues and it helped me through some tough times when I really needed a good laugh.

I have a couple questions. Please feel free to answer any/all/none of them.

  1. If I see you in public and you aren't obviously busy with something, is it alright to approach you? If so, is there anything in particular that you like or dislike fans doing?

  2. What is your favorite West Wing moment? Either with or without President Bartlett?

  3. What is your favorite movie? Thank you sir!

Martin_Sheen516 karma

Of course you can approach me. The only thing I dislike is when fans don't because they're too shy.

My favorite moment was the conversation on the Butterball Hotline from a Thanksgiving episode.

And my favorite movie is East of Eden.

StormPixie194 karma

What was the hardest part for you working on the film Bhopal:Prayer for Rain?

Martin_Sheen328 karma

Well, it's a lot easier to make a film than it is to get it distributed and have it seen. The only difficult part of my involvement with Bhopal was making sure people would know about it and the ongoing humanitarian issue.

Ericovich156 karma

Did growing up in Dayton, Ohio change your perspective on life or people at all?

Everyone here in Dayton knows you're one of the prodigal sons alongside the Wright Brothers and Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

Martin_Sheen321 karma

I'm not a prodigal at all, I'm a proud son. Growing up in Dayton, for good and ill, was a wonderful experience and I wouldn't change it at all.

Nearly 56 years on, the takeaway remains the belief that living an honest life is paramount. "This above all..."

dayofthedead204150 karma

Hi Mr. Sheen,

Thanks for doing this AMA, I’m a huge fan! So much of your work has been a huge inspiration to me – thank you for sharing your gift with the world!

I have a few questions, what did you think about your Apocalypse Now co-star Marlon Brando refusing to accept his best actor Oscar for his performance in “The Godfather?” Did you ever talk to him about it while working with him?

Given your political activism work – what do you think about the protests happening now in Hong Kong?

Finally – are you a fan of the HBO series “Game of Thrones?” If so who’s your favorite character?

Thanks for your time sir.

Martin_Sheen252 karma

I never talked to Marlon about The Godfather and the protests in Hong Kong are certainly a reflection of things to come.

I've seen the previews, but I've never actually watched Game of Thrones.

jisa130 karma

Thank you for doing the AMA. I love your work, especially the West Wing (I cannot tell you how happy I am to have another Jed on TV beyond the Beverly Hillbillies), and I am looking forward to seeing you at the Smithsonian's event about leadership in a few weeks. I'm not sure if saying I look forward to seeing your new film is quite appropriate under the circumstances, I'm sure it will be powerful and painful, but I do look forward to seeing your portrayal of Warren Anderson.

I would like to ask you how you came to be an activist, and whether you have found it difficult to balance a movie/TV career with fighting for the causes you believe in? (Both in terms of time, as well as in concerns that doing one might damage the other?)

Martin_Sheen570 karma

I've often said acting is what I do for a living, but activism is what I do to stay alive. Over the years, I have tried to combine the two in an effort to unite the will of the spirit with the work of the flesh.

Activism can be very costly in every way. If this were not so, we'd be left to question its value.

In my career, I'm sure that each has had an effect on the other, for good and ill. But I can not *not *do both and still be myself.

I'm fond of the story the Irish tell about a man who arrives at the gates of heaven, asking to be let in. St. Peter says "Of course, just show us your scars." The man says, "I have no scars." St. Peter says "What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?"