When does two and a half equal more than 16 million? When you're talking about CBS' top-rated Monday-night sitcom and the massive audience that tunes in to watch Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen play dad and uncle to a wisecracking kid. As if you aren't already tuning in to Two and a Half Men, note that tonight's episode promises to be, well, special, thanks to a certain guest star who only has eyes for Cryer's lovelorn Alan. TVGuide.com spoke to the film and TV vet about that, Duckie and more.
TVGuide.com: First off, I want to say that I loved your series The Famous Teddy Z, which offered an inside look at the talent-agency biz. Do you agree that it simply was ahead of its time?
Jon Cryer: Oh sure, sure. Clearly a lot of shows are doing now what we were trying to do. I think now they have the leeway to do it a lot more effectively. [The] Larry Sanders [Show] was really doing the show that we wanted to do.
TVGuide.com: Today, "inside Hollywood"-type fare is more common and thus familiar to viewers. But back then they probably were like, "Hmm, what's a talent agency?"
Cryer: Yeah, I remember there was a New York Times review in which the reviewer didn't even realize that it was a talent agency; the writer thought that we were press agents. I was like, "Wow, OK, people just don't get it!"
TVGuide.com: Pretty in Pink: honor or albatross?
Cryer: Honor, certainly an honor. I had a ball doing it and you know, god forbid I should be in a movie that people remember! [Laughs] It was a great, fun character and I've had no regrets.
TVGuide.com: Is there a 20th-anniversary DVD out there?
Cryer: There is one. I shot some interviews for it, actually. I was going to do the commentary, but they couldn't get me and Molly [Ringwald] in town the same week, so that didn't happen.
TVGuide.com: Hot Shots! was obviously the first time you worked with Charlie Sheen. Had your paths crossed since?
Cryer: We had sort of informally passed. I ran into him at an ABC thing when he was doing Spin City and I was doing The Trouble with Normal. He told me he had been grateful because when he was going through rehab, I made the comment at one point that even when he was loaded, he was an incredibly professional actor! [Laughs] He said that really helped him get through a lot of stuff, because he had been feeling guilty.
TVGuide.com: What was your first impression of him at the Hot Shots! shoot?
Cryer: Oh, he was lovely — very, very personable.
TVGuide.com: He didn't come across as some hard-living bad boy?
Cryer: No, that was the thing — he was shockingly friendly and pleasant. He was ready to go and he'd get it in one or two takes and we'd move on. It was very impressive.
TVGuide.com: Fact or fiction: You were up for the role of Chandler on Friends?
Cryer: Yes and no. Basically, [Friends creator] Marta Kaufman called me when I was doing a play in London — at 3 am, forgetting the time difference — and said, "We're doing this show called Six of One. Would you audition for it?" I said sure, so she faxed me the pages and I auditioned [on tape] at 10 am the next morning, having not slept at all. The thing was a mess but thankfully [the tape] didn't get to the casting directors until it was too late.
TVGuide.com: As Chandler would say, "Could I be more unlucky?"
Cryer: [Laughs] But even on my best day, I wouldn't have been as good as Matthew Perry. In a way, it was kind of a relief to see somebody really fly with a role you were supposed to audition for. I was supposed to audition to play Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs and when I see Steve Buscemi, it's like, "In a million years, I wouldn't have been more appropriate for that part than him."
TVGuide.com: You wrote and produced the film Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back in Five. I have nothing else to say except "great title."
Cryer: Oh, well thank you! [Laughs] It's actually a pretty good film, if you ever get the chance.
TVGuide.com: Let's talk Two and a Half Men. Whenever I watch the show, I always obsess: Is that the same apartment Laverne and Shirley had when they moved to Hollywood?
Cryer: That is in fact their apartment; we just took it out of mothballs.... No, it's the curvy door that gives it that look, plus the stairway right next to it. But, you know, in California that's a very, very common motif.
TVGuide.com: That's what I figured, it's some "California thing." Why do you think the show garners such boffo ratings? It's about two disparate bachelors living in an impossibly sweet home surrounded by impossibly beautiful women. It's not like folks are identifying with it, as they did with Everybody Loves Raymond.
Cryer: The writers have really portrayed these guys as being deeply flawed guys who are at times infantile and goofy, yet clearly there is a real connection and they both try to get through their lives dealing with the dysfunction they've got — and people like that. Plus, there's a certain amount of residual '80s-movie obsession that people have.
TVGuide.com: The writing, of course, is spot-on and hilarious. You get away with a lot. That scene where the kid was talking about "masticating"... ?!
Cryer: We get away with a lot — but we keep it clean! But yes, we do feel lucky.
TVGuide.com: In five years or so, does the title change to "Three Men"?
Cryer: We've thought about it. Actually, the show sort of has a built-in eight-year life span because he'll go off to college....
TVGuide.com: Jake? Um, not necessarily.
Cryer: Not necessarily! But maybe he'll go to college at Pepperdine and — bing! — we're golden. The show can just keep going.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about the hot little stalker Alan gets in this week's episode....
Cryer: Oh, yes, yes.... They said, "You're going to be playing opposite Cloris Leachman," and I was like, "Great!" And then they said, "You're going to be making out with her!" Gre-e-e-at. But let's face it, Nurse Diesel was hot. And Frau Blucher, too. Respect must be paid.
TVGuide.com: When do we get the episode where you and Charlie switch roles, and you play the cad while he plays uptight?
Cryer: I'm thinking Season 9 for that.
TVGuide.com: Oh, c'mon, think about it: You'd get to wear all the bowling shirts.
Cryer: I like it. But if it happens, please don't sue me.