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The Untold Truth Of Two And A Half Men

When "Two and a Half Men" debuted on CBS in September 2003, no one could've imagined that it would last for 12 seasons and become one of the most talked-about sitcoms of all time. The magical on-screen pairing of Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus T. Jones felt like lightning in a bottle as the tantalizing trio brought tongue-in-cheek humor and suggestive innuendos that had the audience in stitches.

While the formula worked on screen, it wasn't all fun and games behind the scenes. Most notably, Sheen's 2011 meltdown made all the wrong headlines and wreaked havoc on set. Eventually, it got to the point where he was fired from the sitcom, but how would the show be able to continue without the biggest TV star in the world at the time? And why did another big-name actor turn down the opportunity to replace Sheen as the face of the program? These are just some of the topics that we'll be diving deeper into as we uncover the often shocking untold truth of "Two and a Half Men."

A different Evelyn Harper

It isn't unusual for pilots to feature different actors from the final cast announced for a series. Quite often, these standalone episodes act as a proof of concept, and no one can predict if a network will pick the series up. In the case of "Two and a Half Men," the original pilot — "Most Chicks Won't Eat Veal" — featured Blythe Danner in the role of Evelyn Harper, the matriarch of the family.

The Emmy Award-winning actress didn't stick around when the sitcom was picked up by CBS, though. According to showrunner Chuck Lorre, the role "wasn't a really good fit for her" (via the Orlando Sentinel), and she was replaced by Holland Taylor. However, rumors suggest that Danner was actually dismissed after she insisted on making changes to some scenes that didn't sit well with the producers of the show. While the pilot featuring Danner never aired on television, unofficial footage of it is still available on YouTube.

No Hugh for you

Replacing a star like Charlie Sheen isn't easy. Yet, the show was determined to soldier on without him and sign up another actor to play one of the other men in "Two and a Half Men." Before Ashton Kutcher hopped on board, there were several other actors linked with the sitcom. One of the biggest names mentioned was Hugh Grant, who was reportedly offered a sizable paycheck (via Deadline).

In a later interview on Howard Stern's show, Grant revealed that he was contacted about a part on the show but turned it down. "They talked to me about it, but the problem was they didn't have a script or a new character," Grant said. "They just said, 'Trust us. We'll create one.' I said, 'Well, it's very difficult for me to consider this without a script.' And they said, 'Trust us! Trust us!'" Ultimately, Grant said no because he wasn't prepared to accept the job without a script. He joked to Stern that he does regret not getting the paycheck when he realized how much TV stars earned in the U.S.

Charlie's plans for the spinoff show

Charlie Sheen's departure from "Two and a Half Men" was quite the event, making headlines around the world and inspiring a generation of quality memes and hashtags. In the years afterward, though, many fans held onto a glimmer of hope that he'd patch up his differences with Chuck Lorre and have one last rodeo on the show — and he nearly did.

For the series finale, the producers reached out to him about a potential appearance. The plan was always to drop a piano on Charlie Harper's head, as revealed by Lorre's title card at the end of the episode. However, Sheen wasn't interested in this particular ending, pitching his own suggestion: A scene that sets up a spinoff sitcom called "The Harpers," which would've starred him and Jon Cryer. After the debacle that had happened between Sheen and everyone else involved on "Two and a Half Men," let's just say that no one jumped at his idea, so the episode went ahead with Lorre's original ending (and without Sheen's involvement).

Angus T. Jones was the chosen one

While "Two and a Half Men" focused on the self-inflicted shenanigans caused by Charlie and Alan Harper, the heart of the show was Jake, who was played by Angus T. Jones. From his pitch-perfect comedic timing to his undisputed chemistry with his illustrious co-stars, the 9-year-old Jones took all the plaudits right from the get-go. 

One would've expected that the casting for the part of Jake was a long, arduous process, but it wasn't. "Angus was the only little boy who read for the part," Chuck Lorre revealed to FoundationINTERVIEWS. The showrunner added that he had seen Jones' performance as Hunter Morris in 2002's "The Rookie" and thought he was "adorable," so he invited him to read for the role of Jake. After seeing how much of a "good time" Jones was having in the audition process, and how nonchalant he was about the whole thing, the decision to cast him was an easy one.

When Charlie Sheen became Charlie Harper

It's no secret that the line where Charlie Sheen ended and Charlie Harper began was a blurred one. At times, many fans didn't know if Sheen was simply playing a character or himself. However, there was a moment when the actor acted exactly like his TV character and interacted with Jon Cryer as he would've Alan Harper.

In his autobiography "So That Happened," Cryer admitted that he was in a "bad state" after his divorce (via The Hollywood Reporter). He decided to "pay someone for company," and Sheen provided his expert advice here. "Charlie suggested a few online purveyors he occasionally used, as this was when prostitution was gaining a foothold on the Internet," Cryer said. "He and I had different tastes, so I didn't go with his exact recommendations." In another case of life imitating art, Cryer revealed that he once brought a girlfriend to the set, only to be told by Sheen that he'd dated her in the past and they'd broken up because she wouldn't allow him to bring another partner into the relationship.

The real reason Ashton Kutcher joined Two and a Half Men

When Ashton Kutcher joined "Two and a Half Men," it surprised everyone — including the actor himself. Kutcher was a big movie star who was proving himself a bankable name in the industry, so for him to go back to TV where he started seemed like a move backward. In an interview with Howard Stern (via News.com.au), Kutcher disclosed what swayed his decision to take the role of Walden Schmidt. 

His previous agent worked for William Morris Endeavour, a company that had significant involvement in "Two and a Half Men." At the time, if the sitcom was renewed for two more seasons, there was the possibility of syndication, which also meant a never-ending revenue stream for everyone involved. Kutcher revealed that when he found out Charlie Sheen was making $1.8 million an episode, he told his agent: "If they offered me that kind of money for that job, I'd take it!" While he reportedly didn't get the same offer as Sheen, Kutcher was offered a lucrative payday, and he took it. Who says the right amount of money can't influence a decision?

Walden Schmidt changed drastically

Walden Schmidt made his debut in Season 9 of "Two and a Half Men" as a billionaire entrepreneur who ends up buying Charlie Harper's beach house and becoming Alan's new best friend and eventual husband. According to Ashton Kutcher, though, the character of Walden turned out much more different than how he was originally pitched.

Appearing on the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast (via CinemaBlend), Kutcher said that when he met with Chuck Lorre to discuss the part of Walden, he was pitched "an idea for this character that I thought was really interesting, which wasn't the character that I ended up [playing]." Kutcher never revealed the differences made to the character from the pitch to the first script, but he did mention how he asked Lorre about the changes. The showrunner told him it was "going to be a big story and a big thing," so Kutcher put faith in Lorre's vision and went along for the ride.

Jon Cryer isn't keen on a revival

Seeing how hit sitcoms such as "Will & Grace" and "Mad About You" have all received revivals in recent years, many fans are wondering if there's a chance that "Two and a Half Men" could get the same treatment, especially with the original trio reprising their iconic roles. While Charlie Sheen has pushed for it with "The Harpers" concept, Jon Cryer isn't exactly rushing back to the Malibu beach house any time soon.

When broached about his current relationship with Sheen on "Access," Cryer said: "It's kind of a roller coaster when you have Charlie in your life, and I just haven't decided to get back on that roller coaster." After being pressed about his interest in a potential revival or reboot, Cryer chuckled and stated: "Again, I'm not so sure about getting back on that roller coaster." Maybe he needs a few extra zeros on a new contract to help twist his arm.

Jon Cryer turned down Battlestar Galactica to star in the show

In life, we encounter pivotal crossroads where important decisions need to be made. For ordinary mortals, such as ourselves, it could be deciding what to eat for dinner or if a dress is gold or blue. In Jon Cryer's case, it was whether he wanted to do "Two and a Half Men" or "Battlestar Galactica." Sigh. What a horrible predicament to be placed in!

Answering a question posed on Twitter by fellow actor Ever Carradine about which show or movie they came close to getting, Cryer revealed that he turned down the chance to portray Gaius Baltar on "Battlestar Galactica" in order to play Alan Harper. He added that "it worked out fine" since he "loved doing 'Two and a Half Men'" and believes James Callis — who was eventually cast as Baltar — was "one of the reasons" for the success of "Battlestar Galactica." And hey, at least Cryer managed to play another genius in the form of Lex Luthor in the Arrowverse later on, so things didn't turn out too badly for him.

Berta was supposed to be Eastern European

There were several supporting characters on "Two and a Half Men," but none of them had the charisma or hilarity of Berta the housekeeper. Whether she was pointing out the obvious or sticking around to laugh at the Harper fallouts, the outspoken Berta never missed a beat. However, the character could've been much more different if it wasn't for the late Conchata Ferrell's desire to do things her own way.

"They asked me to come with an Eastern European accent," Ferrell told The A.V. Club. When she went in for the audition, she told the room that she has a "pretty good Russian" accent, but she's worked the part and believes "it works better in Trailer Park." Ferrell's performance impressed Chuck Lorre and everyone else, who decided to go along with her suggestion. In fact, they loved it so much that they extended her presence on the show far beyond the initially planned two-episode arc.

Chuck Lorre almost quit

While the spotlight was firmly on Charlie Sheen and his ongoing feud with Chuck Lorre, hardly anyone ever considered what the showrunner went through during the whole ordeal. Turns out that Lorre experienced "a painful year" and was deeply hurt by what had transpired with Sheen (via Entertainment Weekly).

The event certainly took its toll on Lorre, and he contemplated leaving "Two and a Half Men" in 2011. "I offered to quit the show last winter," he revealed. "I said, 'Listen, if for some reason I'm now the Antichrist, I'm happy to leave. It's not in my interest to stop the show, and I certainly don't want to put all these people out of work. Keep going. Get another guy. Don't stop on my account.'" However, Lorre had CBS' backing, and he described the network's decision to fire Sheen as "a moral decision" rather than "a financial one."

Charlie Sheen regrets how he left Two and a Half Men

Look, everyone has disagreements in life — even actors and showrunners. Sometimes, they might not be feeling a script or the specific direction of a series. They can even part ways because of "creative differences" but still insist that they're cool with each other. Well, Charlie Sheen certainly didn't get that memo. Not only did he burn his bridges with Chuck Lorre, but he also painted the town red with his tiger blood (metaphorically, of course).

While it appeared that Sheen would never squash his feud with Lorre, time does heal all wounds. In an interview with The Guardian, Sheen was asked about his regrets. The first thing he said was, "I should have left 'Two and a Half Men' better." It wasn't the only time that he expressed his remorse for how the events unfolded, as he told People that "there was 55 different ways for me to handle that situation, and I chose number 56" (via Yahoo! Finance). Is it possible that by Sheen admitting his wrong, he and Lorre could work together again in the future? Anything is possible in Hollywood!

Charlie Sheen regrets how he treated Ashton Kutcher

Charlie Sheen's departure from "Two and a Half Men" could have played out like a scene from the show. Bad vibes and verbal jabs were thrown around in the press like a game of hot potato. One of the people who caught some collateral damage in the process was Ashton Kutcher. For all intents and purposes, he'd done nothing wrong except for accepting the role of Walden Schmidt in the sitcom. However, that didn't stop Sheen from taking to Twitter and insulting Kutcher on several occasions, per The Wrap. Kutcher didn't take it lying down, though, and fired back when required.

Years later, Sheen apologized and admitted that he shouldn't have behaved the way he did towards Kutcher. "I was stupidly mean to him because I overlooked the reality and difficulty of taking over a show," Sheen explained on the "Kyle & Jackie O" radio show (via ET Online). "Which I did, I took over 'Spin City' when Michael J. Fox was too sick to work, but no one ever put those two together ... So, I should have been nicer." The two appeared to have put their beef behind them and even shook hands at a baseball game (via Daily Mail).

Chuck Lorre saw Alan Harper as a biblical character

Out of all the characters in "Two and a Half Men," the most memeable was Alan Harper. From him constantly "forgetting" his wallet to refusing to move out of his brother's Malibu beach house, Alan was the ultimate sponger who wanted to live freely — for free. For Chuck Lorre, though, his initial vision for who Alan was supposed to be was much different. In fact, he and the show's co-creator Lee Aronsohn planned something of biblical proportions.

In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Lorre said, "Alan was always designed, from the get-go to be kind of the biblical Job. The good man who is trying his best and can't catch a break. And the character has morphed over the years and become much broader." The showrunner admitted that while that was the plan, the character deviated from it as the show went on and found its feet. Charlie, on the other hand, was supposed to be symbolic of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. That one seems to have stuck throughout.

Jennifer Taylor says Two and a Half Men saved her house

Charlie Harper had many lovers on "Two and a Half Men," but there were a select few who almost tamed the wild man. One of these individuals was Chelsea Melini, as portrayed by Jennifer Taylor. The actress had appeared on the show in smaller parts before being cast as Chelsea in Season 6. What most people don't realize is how the sitcom was the career (and monetary) boost that Taylor needed at that specific moment in time.

Chatting to entertainment journalist Jeremy Roberts, Taylor opened up about how the "Two and a Half Men" gig arrived at a tough period in her life. She had given birth to her daughter and was preparing to sell her house to make ends meet, then the call came. "I still had the hole in the ground from where the sign was for selling our house," she said. "I took that as a sign — 'You're not going anywhere, you're just getting started.' My daughter Samantha was four months old on the first day I started as Chelsea in 2008."