Charlie Sheen was axed from America's most popular sitcom Two and a Half Men because programme makers feared he might die of cocaine abuse. Producer Chuck Lorre has finally broken his silence on his long-running feud with the actor, but insists Sheen was sacked to prevent the worst from happening.
Speaking with TV Guide Magazine, Lorre said Warner Bros and CBS "chose to make a moral decision as opposed to a financial one" in sacking Sheen - an actor who earned over $1 million per episode and had risen to become the highest paid actor on US television. He was fired in March following weeks of drug fuelled partying, wild public rants and bizarre public appearances, though he subsequently became a cult-hero figure and quickly amassed millions of followers on Twitter. Despite the soap opera that ensued, Lorre was quick to stress the seriousness of Sheen's dismissal, saying, "This was not a game. This was drug addiction writ large. This was big-time cocaine, and in his own words, an epic drug run that could have ended with either his death or someone else's". The producer, who described Charlie as a "friend", said he feared the actor would kill himself during breaks in filming, explaining, "When we would shoot a show on a Friday night, there was always that I'll see you Monday. I hope. The holidays were the worst, because those long stretches of time were the ones we feared the most".
Following Sheen's dismissal, Lorre and the Two and a Half Men team hired Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher to front the new series of the sitcom - his first episode drew a record 27.7 million viewers. Sheen will mark his return to television in new comedy 'Anger Management' - a show slated to premiere on the FX cable channel in mid-2012.