When the Charlie Sheen debacle happened on “Two and a Half Men” during Spring 2011, show EP Chuck Lorre “absolutely considered” shutting the entire series down. But having decided to give it one more go with Ashton Kutcher on the cast, it then became a matter of what Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt character would look like. For that, Lorre admits he looked to Kutcher himself.
Lorre explains the actor’s well-documented outside interests, including technology and social media, “forced us to look forward, and to start thinking of the character as a more forward-looking character representing a whole new paradigm of consciousness.” At the Television Critics Association Winter press tour, Lorre adds that he was also intrigued by the prospect of a character who had everything except what he really wanted, true love. And thus Walden Schmidt, the technology billionaire with a broken heart, was born.
This certainly presented a challenge for fans of the hit comedy who had become so accustomed Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) and his womanizing ways.
Of this, EP Lee Aronsohn says, “One of the things you read online a lot…is ‘It’s not the same without Charlie.’ And my response is always, ‘It’s not supposed to be.'” He continues, “You can only go so long with the same tone and the same conflicts…It’s a kinder, gentler relationship between Walden and Alan (Jon Cryer).”
This experience of reinventing his show in mid-stream seems to invigorate Lorre, who suffered many verbal slings and arrows from Sheen. “It’s been an extraordinary experience re-birthing the show…It’s been challenging, it’s been terrifying,” he says. “[But] it remains pretty exciting to pull this rabbit out of the hat.”