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[ACTOR] Martin Sheen - Background Included Filipino Heritage

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  • madchinaman
    RAMON SHEEN http://filipino-filmmakers.tvheaven.com/ Actor : Part Filipino a Hollywood celebrity known as Martin Sheen, launched his career as the lead in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 13, 2005

      Actor : Part Filipino a Hollywood celebrity known as Martin Sheen,
      launched his career as the lead in the Broadway play "The Subject
      Was Roses" and went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for his
      leading role in the film adaptation.

      His role in "The West Wing" reunites Sheen with writer Aaron Sorkin
      with whom he worked on the feature film "The American President."

      When asked why he decided to take the role as President Bartlet
      on "The West Wing" Sheen said, "It was simple. Aaron Sorkin and John

      His additional feature film credits include "Wall Street," in which
      he appeared with his son, Charlie Sheen, "Hearts of Darkness: A
      Filmmaker's Apocalypse," "Da," and "Badlands" opposite Sissy Spacek.
      Television credits include roles in "Babylon 5: The River of Souls"
      and the television miniseries "Medusa's Child."

      In 1998 Sheen received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award
      from the Imagen Foundation, an organization that honors positive
      portrayals of Latinos in film, television and in advertising. He
      also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an
      Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for the
      1993 miniseries "Kennedy" and for Best TV Actor for the
      miniseries "Blind Ambition."


      Acting, activism fuel Sheen's life
      By Chris Hornsey, Star Staff Reporter

      Martin Sheen is proud of being a Catholic and an activist.

      Martin Sheen loves Canada.

      The American actor and activist spent an evening in Windsor on the
      weekend, sandwiched between a library dedication in Milwaukee Friday
      and the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday, to receive what he
      called "a great honour," the Christian Culture Gold Medal from
      Assumption University.

      Sheen, who was nominated for a fifth Emmy Sunday for his portrayal
      of President Jed Bartlet on TV's The West Wing, has been a thorn in
      the side of both Bush administrations, most recently for his
      outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq, which he describes as "a
      visionless effort." He has been arrested dozens of times for
      protesting for the homeless, migrant workers and conditions in Third
      World countries. Sheen is just finishing three years probation for a
      well-publicized 2000 arrest at a demonstration against military
      space technology at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

      Little wonder he feels so comfortable on this side of the border.

      "Every time I cross this border I feel like I've left the land of
      lunatics," Sheen said Saturday, adding he was "proud" of Canada for
      not entering the Iraq war. "You are not armed and dangerous. You do
      not shoot each other. I always feel a bit more human when I come

      Sheen was chosen as this year's recipient of the Christian Culture
      Gold Medal "as an outstanding exponent of Christian ideals," said
      Assumption University president Rev. Bill Irwin.

      "There are three things to know about Martin Sheen to understand why
      he has been awarded the gold medal," Irwin said. "He has made an
      outstanding contribution to the arts in his chosen profession. He
      has been actively engaged in the struggle for social justice much of
      his adult life. And Martin Sheen's passion for social justice comes
      from his Catholic faith."

      Irwin said there are those who wonder about Sheen's motives for his
      activism, but it is genuine, uncompromising and motivated by faith.
      He said Sheen was also willing to risk the personal cost to his
      career that may result from his actions.

      Sheen said "it should be costly" or else activism loses its

      The actor, who for some will be forever known as Capt. Willard in
      Apocalypse Now or Carl Fox in Wall Street, was born Ramon Estevez in
      Dayton, Ohio, in 1940. He was one of 10 children raised in a
      Catholic household by parents he describes as "scrupulously honest."
      He said his faith lapsed during his early years as an actor "with an
      ego" but a near-fatal heart attack suffered during the filming of
      Apocalypse Now where he was given last rites and the poverty he
      witnessed in India in 1981 while shooting Gandhi re-established his
      Catholic faith and put him on the path to "comfort the afflicted and
      afflict the comfortable".

      "Those experiences had a profound effect on my life and led directly
      to my return to Catholicism," Sheen said. "The past 23 years have
      been the most difficult in my life, and also the happiest."

      The easy-going actor seemed genuinely delighted to accept the gold
      medal, which was inscribed with his given name, Ramon Estevez, at
      his insistence. After sneaking out to the parking lot behind
      Assumption University to have a smoke with the cafeteria staff (an
      act that endeared him to them) he told reporters he was "humbled" a
      new scholarship in his name is being offered by Assumption
      University, the seed money raised by Saturday's banquet in his

      "It is (his) qualities of excellence, dedication to social justice
      and religious conviction that we shall look for in students applying
      for the scholarship," Irwin said.


      Martin Sheen

      Currently gearing up for his second term in office as President
      Josiah Bartlett on television's critically acclaimed "The West
      Wing," Martin Sheen's convincing portrayal of the fictional US
      President is just the latest in a long line of believable
      characterizations that began back in the late 1950s.

      Ramon Estevez was the seventh of ten children born to a Spanish
      immigrant father and Irish mother in Dayton, Ohio in 1940. He
      adopted his stage name after intentionally flunking his college
      entrance exam so he could move to New York and study acting. He
      took "Martin" from a friend and "Sheen" from popular Bishop Fulton
      J. Sheen.

      By 1964 the young actor had made it to Broadway in "The Subject Was
      Roses," (which he would recreate on film in 1968) and later headed
      to Hollywood where he found regular work on television.
      It wasn't until the early 1970s, however, through a combination of
      film and television work that Sheen's talents became universally

      In 1973 he garnered enormous attention playing a Charles
      Starkweather-inspired killer on a spree in Badlands opposite fellow
      up-and-comer Sissy Spacek. The following year he appeared in two of
      the most lauded television productions of the era, as the convicted
      deserter in "The Execution of Private Slovik," and as Robert Kennedy
      in "The Missiles of October."

      Prolific in his appearances on both the large and small screens,
      Sheen's film career has been largely overlooked with one rather
      extreme exception; he starred in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse
      Now (1979), a film that became famous for its excesses and Sheen's
      near-fatal heart attack during the grueling shoot, an experience he
      later recalled in the Emmy-winning documentary "Hearts of Darkness:
      A Filmmaker's Apocalypse." Among his many other films appearances
      are The Cassandra Crossing, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane,
      The Final Countdown, Gandhi, That Championship Season, The Dead
      Zone, The Believers, Wall Street, Da, Cadence, The American
      President, Monument Avenue, and O.

      Often lending his distinctive voice to documentaries, Sheen
      continues to work in both film and television, and occasionally
      appears with his famous progeny (Charlie Sheen, Emilio, Ramon, and
      Renee Estevez).


      The Star of the West Wing
      An Interview with Martin Sheen
      David Kupfer

      The star of The West Wing and a winner of a Golden Globe award for
      his role on that show, actor Martin Sheen is widely known as a
      pacifist and activist. What is not as widely known is that he is
      also a devout Catholic. Indeed, it was only after rediscovering his
      faith twenty years ago that he began to work in earnest for the
      social causes he believes in. "I learned I had to stand for
      something so I could stand to be me," he says.

      A former drug and alcohol abuser, Sheen suffered a heart attack
      while filming Apocalypse Now. The event set him on a four-year
      spiritual journey that culminated in his return to Catholicism. He
      carries a rosary in his pocket ("Keeps me from cursing," he says)
      and is an almost daily communicant. Known worldwide by his stage
      name, this son of immigrant parents (his father was from Spain, his
      mother, Ireland) was baptized Ramón Estevez. His early years were
      spent in Dayton, Ohio.

      The Estevez family was poor and, from an early age, instilled Sheen
      with strong morals and working class values. By age nine, he was
      earning extra money as a golf caddie at a local country club, with
      hopes of becoming a pro. In 1958, at eighteen, he borrowed bus fare
      from his local parish priest and headed for New York to pursue his
      dream of becoming an actor. To avoid ethnic bias in hiring, he chose
      the first name Martin after a good friend, and Sheen after Bishop
      Fulton J. Sheen, who had a popular TV show in the 1950s. He remains
      proud of his Hispanic heritage and is quick to say that he never
      legally changed his name.

      Sheen has created an impressive body of work, from his acclaimed
      performance in The Subject Was Roses (1964), and The Execution of
      Private Slovik (1974) to more recent films such as The Missiles of
      October, Kennedy, Badlands, Catch-22, Apocalypse Now, Gandhi, and
      Wall Street. He's been married to his wife, Janet, for more than
      forty years and is father to four children, Charlie, Emilio, Renee,
      and Ramón.

      Over the past two decades, Sheen has protested repression in Central
      America, Gaza, and the West Bank, promoted fairer immigration
      policies in the USA, supported the closing of nuclear test sites,
      and spoken out repeatedly against war.

      "Once you follow a path of nonviolence and social justice, it won't
      take you long before you come into conflict with the culture, with
      the society. You can't know what is at stake or how much it is going
      to cost you until you get in the game. That's the only way, and the
      level of cost is equal to the level of involvement."

      Martin Sheen

      Question: Why are you so active in social justice and peace issues?

      Martin Sheen: I do it because I can't seem to live with myself if I
      do not. I don't know any other way to be. It isn't something you can
      explain; it is just something that you do; it is something that you

      Q: You've been arrested more than sixty times, in opposition to the
      School of the Americas in Georgia, apartheid, racism, homelessness,
      nuclear testing. Do you recall your first time?

      Sheen: My first civil disobedience arrest for social justice was in
      1986 for protesting the SDI [Reagan's Star Wars initiative]. It was
      on Forty-second Street at the McGraw-Hill Building in New York. That
      arrest was one of the happiest moments of my life and, equally, one
      of the scariest.

      Q: What are your views on nonviolent civil disobedience?

      Sheen: It is one of the only tools that is available to us where you
      can express a deeply personal, deeply moral opinion and be held
      accountable. You have to be prepared for the consequences. I
      honestly do not know if civil disobedience has any effect on the
      government. I can promise you it has a great effect on the person
      who chooses to do it.

      Q: What did you mean when you said, "Your faith has to cost you
      something, otherwise you have to question its value"?

      Sheen: Once you follow a path of nonviolence and social justice, it
      won't take you long before you come into conflict with the culture,
      with the society. You can't know what is at stake or how much it is
      going to cost you until you get in the game. That's the only way,
      and the level of cost is equal to the level of involvement.

      Q: What's your reaction to your critics in the media?

      Sheen: Their opinions are very lucrative to them; mine are very
      expensive to me and my family. That is the difference. That is why I
      can't get involved in this debate. Because we are talking about two
      different things.

      Q: You're coming from a more humanistic perspective?

      Sheen: Exactly, and a spiritual perspective. And they get paid for
      their opinions, and mine cost me.

      Q: But you don't take it personally, do you?

      Sheen: I don't, only because I don't know the people who are
      attacking me. But you cannot not be affected by it and remain human.
      And also I am not in this alone; I have a family, and they are
      subject to a lot of scrutiny at times. It is not pleasant at all.
      You just have to maintain your faith, and your sense of humor. Above
      all, not take yourself so seriously, and realize that you're not in
      there alone. God has not abandoned us. I don't know what other force
      to appeal to other than almighty God, I really don't.

      Q: You support our military?

      Sheen: I have been accused of being a traitor, and I have been
      accused of not supporting the military. Nothing could be further
      from the truth. The leaders are the ones who make the decisions. The
      soldiers do not have the choice. I support the soldiers as human

      Q: When we met twenty years ago, you told me: "Murder is being
      conducted in our name around the world and we're paying the price
      here at home." What has that price been?

      Sheen: This supposed idyllic society we have is the most confused,
      warped, addicted society in the history of the world. We are
      addicted to power, we're addicted to our own image of ourselves, to
      violence, divorce, abortion, and sex. Any whim of the human
      character is deeded in us 100-fold. We're number one in child abuse,
      pornography, divorce, all of these categories; that's how we get
      paid back. You can't project something on someone else that is
      damaging that person and not become that yourself, it seems to me.

      Q: What are your views on abortion?

      Sheen: I cannot make a choice for a women, particularly a black or
      brown or poor pregnant woman. I would not make a judgment in the
      case. As a father and a grandfather, I have had experience with
      children who don't always come when they are planned, and I have
      experienced the great joy of God's presence in my children, so I'm
      inclined to be against abortion of any life. But I am equally
      against the death penalty or war-- anywhere people are sacrificed
      for some end justifying a means. I don't think abortion is a good
      idea. I personally am opposed to abortion, but I will not judge
      anybody else's right in that regard because I am not a woman and I
      could never face the actual reality of it.

      Q: What is a radical Catholic, as you've called yourself?

      Sheen: That is someone who follows the teachings of the nonviolent
      Jesus and takes the gospel personally, and then pays the price. I
      fall into that category.

      Q: Who have been your spiritual influences?

      Sheen: Terrence Malick (director of the film Badlands) is a deeply
      spiritual, bright, articulate man who had a profound influence on me
      at a critical time. Twenty years ago, I left India and went to Paris
      to do a film which I was not wild to be doing because I was not
      feeling focused at the time. I had just experienced India for the
      first time, and it had a very profound impact on me. I went to Paris
      and ran into Terry, who'd been living there for a couple of years,
      and we got reacquainted and got very close, and he became a mentor
      in a lot of ways for me. He was able to see where I needed to focus
      and was able to guide me to a little clearer place. He would give me
      material, books to read. Finally, the last book he gave me was The
      Brothers Karamazov, and that book had a very profound effect on my
      spiritual life, and that was like the final door that I had to go
      through. I finished reading that, and it was May Day, and I went
      into what turned out to be the only English-speaking Catholic church
      in all of France. I had not gone to church in years. I came across
      an Irish priest. I told him I'd stayed away from the faith for a
      long time, and I'd like to make a confession. He said you come to
      see me Saturday afternoon at the appointed hour, and I did. That was
      for me the journey home. Terrence was key to my awakening. Also,
      many of my beliefs were influenced by Dan and Phil Berrigan and the
      Jesuit community they helped run in New York.

      Q: How did being a golf caddie affect you as a boy?

      Sheen: Those years on the golf course as a caddie, boy, those people
      were something. They were vulgar, some were alcoholics, racist, they
      were very difficult people to deal with. A lot of them didn't have a
      sense of humor. They didn't know your name. It was always "caddie."
      This was before golf carts were used. If they needed to play, they
      were either going to hire a caddie or pull one of those rolling
      carts themselves. They weren't about to carry them when they could
      get you to carry them for a few dollars. Some of them were so cheap,
      selfish, and stingy. They taught me so much [laughs]. I am so
      grateful to those people. Because the bottom line was, for me, I
      thought, don't let me become that! It was one of those valuable
      lessons about what not to be, what not to do, how not to do
      something. They were ignorant, arrogant people, and they thought
      they were very charming and thought they had the world by the tail,
      with all the money and power they had.

      Q: How has the game of golf helped you to develop your life

      Sheen: Anybody who plays golf will tell you that you play against
      yourself. I am a very conscientious golfer. I count every stroke. I
      learned to play that way. That is the only way I can play. It taught
      me to be honest. There is no greater virtue than honesty. The game
      is basically about yourself. Because you can cheat at golf, but you
      are only cheating you, so what is the point? If you are gambling and
      you cheat to make money then you are a thief and a liar, so it is
      exponential. Golf is fundamentally about being honest. I see people
      hit eight shots and tell me they shot five. I never say a word. It
      is a reminder to me of what is at stake.

      Q: Are you worried that this nation might be going down the tubes in
      a hurry?

      Sheen: It is slip-sliding away. The last couple of years, we've
      witnessed the slow unraveling of a lot of very good legislation that
      was put into place by a lot of hard activism.

      Q: What is your greatest hope for our species?

      Sheen: That we survive, and come to know ourselves, and win our

      Q: And your greatest fear?

      Sheen: That we are not going to make it.

      Q: Do you despair, or do you have hope?

      Sheen: No, no, I never despair, because the President is not running
      the universe. He may be running the United States, he may be running
      the military, he may be running even the world, but he is not
      running the universe, he is not running the human heart. A higher
      power is yet to be heard in this regard, and I'm not so sure that we
      haven't already heard, we just haven't been listening. I still
      believe in the nonviolent Jesus and the basic human goodness present
      in all of us.

      If all of the issues that I have worked on were dependant on some
      measure of success, it would be a total failure. I don't anticipate
      success. We're not asked to be successful, we are only asked to be
      faithful. I couldn't even tell you what success is.

      David Kupfer's work has appeared in The Progressive, Whole Earth,
      Adbusters, and Earth Island Journal. He lives on an organic farm in
      Northern California.
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