It seems like we didn't start hearing Chuck Lorre's name much prior to the 2000s, but he has actually been working in television since the 1980s, co-writing the theme song to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series and then working as a writer on Roseanne. In the '90s, he first ventured into actually creating TV shows, responsible for hit series Grace Under Fire, Cybill, and Dharma & Greg.
It wasn't until he created massive hit Two and a Half Men in 2003 that Chuck Lorre cemented his place as one of modern television's most successful hitmakers, further hammered home with The Big Bang Theory five years later. In a lot of ways, Two and a Half Men was much different than most of the other shows on television for its day, with its off-color humor at a time when network television seemed to be leaning safer and more family-friendly. It had more in common with the type of raunchy comedies you'd see on cable rather than primetime network television.
Of course, it's impossible to talk about Two and a Half Men without also addressing the crazy behind-the-scenes drama that accompanied it, most of it the result of star Charlie Sheen having one of the most bizarre public celebrity meltdowns of all time. Even beyond Sheen's antics, a lot of craziness went along with getting and keeping Two and a Half Men on the air for its astounding twelve seasons, including when it defied expectations and lasted an additional four highly-rated seasons following Sheen's departure.
Here are 20 Wild Details Behind The Making Of Two And A Half Men.
20 Hugh Grant Almost Replaced Charlie Sheen
Once it became clear that Charlie Sheen wouldn't be returning to Two and a Half Men for its ninth season, nobody knew what the future held for the show. The series was too popular to just end it there, and while some felt the show could've just worked with Jon Cryer's Alan going mostly solo, it was decided that another Charlie-like character had to be brought in to replace Sheen.
While Ashton Kutcher ended up being that replacement, the part almost went to somebody very different. None other than Hugh Grant was approached for the part. He claims he was offered $1 million per episode, though he ultimately declined, as they wanted him to sign on without any scripts yet being written and he wasn't willing to commit without seeing on paper what they had in mind for his character.
19 The Original Finale Included Charlie Sheen
Though Charlie Sheen's exit from Men was far from amicable and involved him burning just about every bridge related to the show, its producers, and CBS as a whole, there was still buzz about him possibly returning for the series finale.
It turns out that there was talks to have Sheen show up for the finale, but those plans were nixed when Sheen and Men's writers couldn't agree on what form his appearance would take. They wanted Sheen to do a self-referential, fourth wall-breaking rant about the dangerous of substance abuse-- and Sheen wanted to set up a spin-off show called The Harpers to star himself and Jon Cryer. With neither side budging, his cameo was just canceled altogether and replaced with a fake-out involving Chuck Lorre and a falling piano.
18 Jon Cryer Is Actually Older Than Charlie Sheen
The original premise for Two and a Half Men was largely built around Alan Harper hitting a major rough patch in his life and having to move in with his older, smoother, more successful older brother, Charlie. Much of the interplay between Alan and Charlie centered around more experienced older brother Charlie helping out younger brother Alan in various ways.
While TV actors rarely play characters their own age, it's also interesting sometimes the way that co-stars' ages relate to each other-- how different they can be from the ages of the characters they are playing. In the case of Two and a Half Men, Jon Cryer is actually older than Charlie Sheen. It's only by a few months, but they play their characters like the age difference is fairly significant.
17 The CSI Crossover Secretly Mocked Roseanne
One of Chuck Lorre's earliest gigs was as a writer on Roseanne back in the '80s. Like so many of the writers who worked on that show during its contentious early days, he ended up being fired over creative differences-- which was typically code for "Roseanne didn't like him."
While it's safe to say that Lorre got the last laugh with his monster success as a TV writer-- plus Roseanne's eventual firing from her own show during its reboot-- he still clearly had an ax to grind with her and his time on her show and decided to poke fun at her on Men. Well, technically, he poked fun at her during Men's bizarre crossover with CSI, which featured a very obviously Roseanne-inspired fictional show called Annabelle that isn't shown in the most positive light.
16 Angus T. Jones Was The Only Kid Who Auditioned For Jake
The "men" of Two And A Half Men, at least before Sheen's departure, were played by two industry veterans who first rose to prominence in the 1980s and ran parallel to the popularity of the so-called "Brat Pack." The show was built around those two, and there was never anyone else in serious consideration for either role.
For the "half" part, there had to be a search for just the right kid to play off of the established actors. It might seem like they had to audition tons of kids for the part of Jake, but surprisingly, they only auditioned one-- Angus T. Jones, who landed the part. Chuck Lorre saw Jones opposite Dennis Quaid in The Rookie and called him in to read for Jake, at which point he knew that there was no point in even seeing any other kids.
15 Berta Was Only Meant To Be A Temporary Character
Charlie and Alan's housekeeper, Berta, was definitely one of Men's best characters. She'd often just walk in and deliver a quip or two, and exit, but she stole most of the scenes she was in. Brilliantly played by Conchata Ferrell, whose career goes all the way back to the early-1970s, Berta felt so ingrained into the fabric of the show that it's hard to believe she was originally only meant to be around temporarily.
Ferrell had initially only signed on to play Berta for a mere two episodes in the first season, and interestingly her character arc involved her leaving Charlie's employ specifically because Alan and Jake moved in. Both Berta and Ferrell herself were such a hit with the cast, crew, and audiences that she stuck around and was a main cast member from season two onward.
14 Ashton Kutcher Only Did It For The Money
While Ashton Kutcher first rose to fame on television, playing Kelso on That 70's Show and hosting MTV's Punk'd, he had long left TV behind for film roles and entrepreneurship. For him to not only return to the grind of television but to do so as the lead on a sitcom seemed a little strange-- but it's far less strange when you consider his very obvious reason for doing so.
To be clear, acting is a job and all actors do it "for the money" to an extent-- otherwise, they'd just work for free-- but in the case of Kutcher on Men, that was apparently the only reason he did it. He was initially reluctant to take the offer, until his agent pointed out that not only would he make a cool $700K+ per episode, but he stood to earn much more than that on future syndication deals. Needless to say, the money was too good to pass up.
13 All Of Rose's Outfits Had Roses On Them
To say that Two and a Half Men features a lot of problematic elements would be an understatement. Not only does the show make a joke out of stalking, but it also turns it into something that is seen as kind of sweet, as very obvious stalker Rose is not only tolerated by Charlie but he basically enables, encourages, and is often flattered by it.
Putting all that aside, Rose is one of the most popular characters on the show and actress Melanie Lynskey does do an admirable job of making her stalking seem charming. One such charming detail that was pointed out during the show's DVD commentary that many people probably missed is that every single outfit that Rose wore on the show contained a rose of some kind, be it a pattern on her blouse or a clip in her hair.
12 Jon Cryer's Hair was painted on
If you happened to see pictures of Jon Cryer during hiatuses of Men, you might have noticed something odd-- he hardly has any hair. It's clear from the patches on the top of his head that his baldness isn't entirely by choice, though he seems to prefer keeping what hair he does have pretty closely shaved.
How did his hair seem so much fuller on the show? The obvious answer would be a wig, but as Cryer tells it, the truth is a little more complicated than that. Calling it "an elaborate illusion," Cryer says that the process involves "stuff like shoe polish" and that they more or less paint his hair on with a "roller type thing." This is finished off with powder that is shaken on to his head to complete the deception.
11 Jennifer Taylor Played Five Different Characters
For the bulk of Two and a Half Men's run, Charlie wasn't really interested in settling down with one woman and instead had a revolving door of models entering and exiting his life. Beyond the aforementioned Rose, one of the biggest exceptions to this rule was Chelsea, whom Charlie actually gets engaged to at one point and genuinely seems hurt when she leaves him.
Played by Jennifer Taylor, Chelsea was a recurring character in season six and a main character in season seven, coming back for various guests spots later on. The interesting thing is that Chelsea wasn't the first character Taylor portrayed on the show. Or the second. In fact, Taylor had not only appeared in the pilot as a woman named Suzanne but also returned as Tina and later again as Nina before appearing as her fourth and final character, Chelsea.
10 Angus T. Jones Is Still The Highest-Paid Child TV Actor Of All Time
Angus T. Jones only continued acting for a brief period following his departure from Two and a Half Men and has mostly focused on business and charity work in recent years. When you see just how much money Jones made during his tenure on Men, you'll realize that he doesn't really need to do much else.
According to a list put out earlier this year, Jones was at, the time-- and thus far still remains-- the highest-paid child TV star if all time. Hitting $300,000 per episode by age 17 put him way above his closest runner-up, iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove at $180,000 per episode. In terms of network sitcoms, the only other child star that even comes close is Frankie Muniz, who maxed out at $120,000 per episode by the end of Malcolm in the Middle's run.
9 Jon Cryer Chose Two And A Half Men Over Battlestar Galactica
Speaking of paychecks, there's no denying that Jon Cryer is pretty financially set for life from his time on Two and a Half Men, with an estimated net worth of $65 million, much of which comes from his original Men paychecks and the show's huge syndication payout. It's definitely a lot more money than he would've made had he chosen the other show he was up for at the same time.
According to Cryer's memoir So That Happened, he was deliberating between taking the role on Men and taking a part on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica around the same time, and had his pick between the two shows. While Battlestar might've earned him a lucrative spot at sci-fi convention panels and signings for life, in terms of pure dollars, he obviously made the right choice.
8 April Bowlby's Strangely Reduced Screen Time
While nobody racked up as many roles on the show as Jennifer Taylor, actress April Bowlby did play two completely different characters-- first as the one-off Kimber in a single season-three episode, and then as the eventual main cast member Kandi.
Kandi is another rare, non-OG Men female that later got main character status on the show, earning that distinction for season four. What's strange is that she only appeared in five episodes that season-- meanwhile, her episode count from the previous season, when she was still just considered recurring, was ten. Main cast members probably earn more than recurring ones so Bowlby likely wasn't complaining, but it seems odd that they'd upgrade Kandi's importance just to downgrade her screen time.
7 Jon Cryer Is The Only Person To Appear In Every Episode
Being on a primetime network television show full-time for many years seems like it could be tiring. Even with so many built-in breaks for summer and holidays, actors often need additional time off-- hence the occasional "vacation" a character on a show will take for no apparent reason.
When it comes to shows that are on the air for over a decade, it takes a big commitment to show up for every single episode. Jon Cryer was up for that task, and he confirms in his memoir that he was the only actor on Men to appear in all 262 episodes of the show.
6 Angus T. Jones Told People Not To Watch The Show
Young actors often have trouble adjusting to fame as they get older, and can end up having a very different view of their work. While Angus T. Jones seemed to be having fun as the young lead on Two and a Half Men, a leaked video of the actor from 2012 showed that his feelings about the show had begun to sour significantly.
In the video, posted for Christian group the Forerunner Chronicles, Jones claimed he didn't want to be on the show anymore, and pleaded with people to "please stop watching it and filling your head with filth." He also went on to challenge people to research how television negatively affects people's brains. While he was quick to apologize initially, he would later double down on his original feelings and claim he didn't regret what he first said.
5 Blythe Danner Was In The Original Pilot
Holland Taylor, who played Charlie and Alan's mother, Evelyn, is every bit the industry veteran as anyone else on the show. Besides her Emmy-winning role on The Practice, Taylor's film and television work spans six decades and covers about every genre imaginable.
It seems that it was always in the plans to have a legend play Evelyn, but it was originally a different legend-- Blythe Danner, mother of Gwyneth Paltrow and with over 50 years of acting experience herself, was first cast in the part and even filmed the unaired original pilot. Footage of that pilot has never been made public, but it's something we all would definitely love to see.
4 A Famous Voice Sang The Theme Song
You probably aren't going to fall out of your chair with the revelation that it wasn't actually Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus T. Jones singing the Two and a Half Men theme song during the opening credits, and you probably aren't going to drop your phone in shock when you hear that the voice that Jones is mouthing along to is that of a woman.
What might actually surprise you, however, is that you do know who sings that part. You've probably seen her face, and you've definitely heard her voice. It was none other than Elizabeth "E.G." Daily, best known on-screen as Dottie from Pee-wee's Big Adventure and through her voice work in Rugrats (as Tommy), The Powerpuff Girls (as Buttercup), and as "additional voices" in movies like Wreck-It Ralph and A Goofy Movie.
3 Most Episode Titles Came From A Line Spoken In The Show
Episode titles for comedy shows are often an art unto themselves. Friends famously starts every episode title with the words "The One..." a play on of how people describe TV show episodes to each other. 3rd Rock From The Sun's episode titles have a lot of fun with the fact that John Lithgow's character is named Dick.
With Two and a Half Men, they decided to go a route that is simultaneously obvious but also rather unique-- having episode titles that come from a line spoken within the show. According to the DVD commentary, all but just a couple of notable exceptions follow this rule, the result of which is silly-- and wordy-- episode titles like "Did You Check With The Captain of the Flying Monkeys?" and "Ate the Hamburgers, Wearing the Hats".
2 Just Like Rose, Melanie Lynskey Couldn't Stay Away
Two and a Half Men definitely lost some of its spirit following the initial departure of Rose, who was written off the show as having moved away in season three. Of course, she wasn't gone long, and soon actress Melanie Lynskey's infectious smile was gracing televisions once again and did so over Rose's continued guest appearances through the end of the show's run.
Things might've been very different for Rose had Lynskey's reason for leaving in the first place panned out. The actress had signed on to play a main role on the Fox action series Drive, and wasn't going to be able to put in full time at both shows. When Drive quickly veered into cancellation, Men happily welcomed her back-- but as Lynskey wanted to shift into more film work, she decided to only return via recurring and guest appearances.
1 Charlie Sheen Caused The Show A Lot Of Problems
Charlie Sheen was a difficult presence on the set of Two And A Half Men for a large chunk of its run. While there is a certain amount of expected drama that tended to come along with casting the infamous Hollywood party animal, it was during Sheen's time on Men that his professional and personal life really took a nosedive and caused major problems for the show.
While Sheen's first major arrest during Men's run occurred in 2009 for domestic violence, the show itself was unaffected until 2011 when the actor went into rehab, forcing Men to go on an unplanned hiatus. It was during this time that Sheen started doing bizarre interviews where he bashed Chuck Lorre, eventually leading to the cancellation of all filming for the remainder of that season. That's not even the worst of it, either!
Do you have any trivia to share about Two and a Half Men? Let us know in the comments!