Charlie Sheen is the latest in a long line of celebrities to break down in a very public manner, airing his grievances to anyone who will listen. Yet, despite his multiple arrests, substance abuse problems, domestic violence allegations and a long history of biting the hand that feeds, Charlie Sheen is still commanding the spotlight in Hollywood.
In the past few months alone, Sheen has trashed a pricey hotel room while frightening his porn-star companion enough to call the police on him, admitted to a marathon drug binge, allegedly threatened to kill his estranged wife, spent time in the hospital, lashed out at the creators of his his hit TV show and provided what seems to be irrefutable proof of some kind of mental break. Despite all of this, sources for RadarOnline.com say that CBS is still trying to mitigate the damage caused by the public feuding between Sheen and Chuck Lorre and are even trying to work out a deal in which Sheen can return to his role on ‘Two and a Half Men.’
Dr. Shanthi Mogali, a New York City addiction psychiatrist, says of the public fascination over Sheen’s behavior, “People are interested in chaotic lives, just like people are interested in reality TV — you can relate to the people, but the problems they’re having are blown out of proportion. You can say to yourself, ‘I may do cocaine or I may drink, but at least I don’t look like that.'”
So what does it take for fans to turn their back on a beloved star?
There are some stars whose scandals have irreputably damaged their careers. While there are still legions of loyal fans who still display their devotion to Chris Brown (particularly on Twitter), his talent is still overshadowed by his personal life. His name is rarely referred to without some mention of his violence against ex-girlfriend Rihanna.
Yet for other Hollywood leading men, their scandals have become rarely mentioned jokes, not career killers.
Rob Lowe, who rose to fame in the ’80s as a member of the Brat Pack, is more famous these days for his high-profile TV and film career than his late-80s sex scandal. One of the earliest sex tape stars, in 1988, Lowe was filmed engaging in sexual activity with two girls, one of whom was a minor. After a stint in rehab for alcohol and sex addiction, his bad behavior seems to be a thing of the past, and is rarely mentioned at all these days.
Hugh Grant, whose floppy-haired good looks earned him high praise in movies like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and ‘Notting Hill,’ surprised fans when he was busted by police for engaging in a lewd act with prostitute Divine Brown. Although Grant was in a relationship with Elizabeth Hurley at the time of his arrest, the couple didn’t call it quits for another few years, and Grant’s career has continued to soar ever since.
While Robert Downey Jr. is one of Hollywood’s leading men these days, there was a time when the ‘Iron Man’ star was such a liability that insurance companies for films refused to cover him. Despite a lengthy drug addiction, a history of erratic behavior, failure to show up on sets and multiple arrests, once Downey got clean, his enormous talent was once again embraced on the silver screen, earning high praise for his roles and scoring multiple award nominations.
So how much more will Hollywood take of Charlie Sheen’s bad behavior? From accidentally shooting Kelly Preston in the early ’90s to his most recent “winning spree,” it doesn’t seem like Sheen’s roller-coaster ride is coming to an end any time soon. But it all depends on how eager audiences are to watch someone spiral out of control.
Mogali says, “With Charlie Sheen, [his problems] have turned into this never-ending cycle with the media, which feeds this grandiose behavior he’s been exhibiting. For the general public, it’s just entertainment. People love to see drama.”
In the end, only time will tell if Sheen will resolve his issues and get back to work. A clean drug test, however, isn’t the only indicator that Sheen is ready to once again handle the pressures of Hollywood. “The average person who comes in for addiction treatment has problems with mood regulation, sleep, and some people even exhibit psychotic behavior. It takes six to 12 months for those chemicals in the brain to become regulated again,” says Mogali. “If you look at someone like Charlie Sheen who doesn’t think that there’s any mood disorder going on, you want to motivate them. With checks and balances in their life, they might see that they do need some help.”