Sheen was a mess on set. Drinking heavily, he had his family around him, including 14-year-old Emilio Estevez, who recalls that period of his life as a living hell.
“I just wanted to be home,” Estevez told
recently. “I was losing my mind. I hated him when he got drunk, because he’d get violent. Some of it he may remember, some of it he may not.
“But, yeah, it was horrible. And because I was the oldest, it was always directed at me. But I think the Philippines was the last physical fight we had. The older I got, I started lifting weights and getting stronger, so I was like, 'Come on, let’s go…'’
The film’s opening scene, in which Willard sits and stews and slowly goes crazy in a hotel room, is a fair representation of Sheen’s state during the shoot as a whole. It was Sheen’s 36th birthday, and he was genuinely pissed...
“That was a crazy time,” Sheen remembers. “The [
] came away with me a lot, especially when they were little and didn’t really have a lot of say in the matter. I just grabbed them out of school and took them to some pretty remote places.”
After 12 months of shooting, Sheen finally hit rock bottom. On March 5, 1977, he suffered a minor heart attack. He had to crawl half a mile out into the road for help. While he recuperated, his brother Joe stood in for him during some long shots, and Martin returned to the film a few weeks later. Soon after, Marlon Brando arrived...