In the wake of Charlie Sheen’s highly-publicized removal from the hit sitcom Two and a Half Men, CBS remained adamant that the show would continue without its leading man. Reports have surfaced that the network came very close to snagging British actor and romantic comedy mainstay Hugh Grant for the part.
According to Deadline, the show’s producers had been in talks with the foppish star as far back as a month ago, after network president Les Moonves and entertainment president Nina Tassler signed off on the idea to pursue Grant. The network was so keen on the star, they were reportedly willing to offer Grant a $1 million dollar per episode deal. Though that is a staggering sum of money – considering the season would likely be around 24 episodes – the deal would have remarkably left him short of what Sheen was being paid, which at the time made him the highest paid actor on television.
However promising the idea of Grant as lead on Two and a Half Men was for CBS, it seems as though the actor has turned the offer down due to the oft used reason of “creative differences.” Various insiders are saying that term simply means Grant did not want to commit to the grueling schedule required to get 24 episodes completed for an entire season. Furthermore, getting Grant on board meant the series would have been greenlit for at least three more seasons, which likely played a part in the actor’s eventual refusal of the offer.
Though very different in their appeal, Grant and Sheen have their similarities. Both are past-their-prime bachelors with a penchant for the ladies, and each man has had brushes with the law (to varying degrees), which served to augment their careers in different ways. While Grant later focused on acting - with roles in successful films like Notting Hill, Love Actually and About a Boy - Sheen nurtured his notoriety and somehow manifested a career out of his off-camera performances, which he then parlayed into his former gig on Two and a Half Men.
Grant’s name likely came as a bit of a shock, since there had been no prior mention of the actor in relation to the show. For the most part, the focus has been on the other names stuffed into the Two and a Half Men hat, like Entourage’s Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe (The West Wing, Californication), John Stamos (Glee) and even Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men, 2012). Now that Grant is ostensibly out of the picture, will one of these actors become first pick, or does the studio have another surprise up its sleeve?
While it may seem odd that the network would fight so hard to continue a show that, for all intents and purposes, collapsed under the weight of its star’s extracurricular activities (and showrunner Chuck Lorre’s disapproval thereof), the fact remains that Two and a Half Men still has the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenue from advertising, syndication fees and DVD/Blu-ray sales. With that much money at stake, it’s all but certain the search for another leading man will continue.
As potential casting news for Two and a Half Men progresses, we will keep you updated.