Veteran actor Martin Sheen admits it took him a while to warm up to West Wing director Laura Innes.

For starters, Sheen had no idea that Innes had already made a name for herself playing ER's sassy Dr. Kerry Weaver when she signed on to direct NBC's White House drama. "But my wife sure knew who she was, and boy, did I get a beating for that," he tells TV Guide Online.

"My wife asked me who was directing, and I said, 'Some little girl. Hell, she looks about 14 years old, I don't know her name,' " recalls Sheen. "She looked at the call sheets and said, 'You a------! Laura Innes is directing! She's the best thing on ER, man. You'd better go back and behave yourself.' So I did what my wife told me, and I listened to everything [Innes] had to say."

Now Sheen has nothing but kudos for the 'little girl' who is directing him and his West Wing co-stars. He recalls one scene in which he and John Spencer were overdoing it during a fight: "She let it go for about six or eight takes. And then she came in and began to take all the decorations away and said, 'Just go right to the heart and just make it personal.' I saw the scene get smaller and smaller, and by the end of the evening we were just looking at each other and talking the truth and responding. It was phenomenal what she did."

Innes seems pretty amused by Sheen's transformation. "So, Martin's wife is why he was so nice to me?" she asks us. "I guess I'll have to send her flowers or something."