Chuck Lorre, the co-creator and executive producer of "2 and a Half Men," is speaking out for the first time about his trouble on and off set with actor Charlie Sheen.
"The man was my friend," Lorre said in an interview with TV Guide. "I cared for him deeply. We had a great time. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
"[The studio and network] chose to make a moral decision as opposed to a financial one," Lorre said about Warner Bros. ousting Sheen earlier this year following his media tirade against Lorre. "But people were really frightened that they were signing off on what could have had devastating consequences."
"This was not a game. This was drug addiction writ large," the producer added. "This was big-time cocaine and in his own words, an 'epic drug run' that could have ended with either his death or someone else's."
Production on "Two and a Half Men" was suspended in January after Sheen went to Cedars Sinai emergency room suffering for an undisclosed illness. He later went to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. Production again halted in February after he insulted Lorre during a radio interview.
"Last January and February it was not working anymore," Lorre told the magazine. "You couldn't do that much cocaine and work. It was heartbreaking to be around here last year."
Sheen had said in subsequent interviews that he was sober. Warner Bros. Television said in its firing letter that the actor had "been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill."
"It became clear that he was not sober, and we weren't sure how hard he was trying to be sober anymore," his "Two and a Half Men" co-star Jon Cryer said. "We were used to things being just a little off balance for many months. You could tell his personality was changing."
"Finally toward the end it was undeniable," he added.
Sheen filed his lawsuit in March, days after he was axed from the hit CBS comedy series following a slew of erratic on-air ramblings against the show's producers and co-creator Chuck Lorre. During his rants, Sheen coined what would become catchphrases among his fans, namely "Duh, winning!" and "Tiger Blood."
In September, Sheen reached a settlement with Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre over his $100 million lawsuit for his firing from "Two and a Half Men."
Though the settlement amount was not revealed, the Los Angeles Times reported the amount to be $25 million, while the Hollywood Reporter wrote that Sheen's settlement amount will likely be less but will include the reinstatement of the actor's substantial profit participation on all seasons of "Two and a Half Men," which had been withheld since he was fired.
"Two and a Half Men" premiered in 2003. Sheen played party-loving womanizer Charlie Harper and Jon Cryer was cast as his character's straight-edge brother. Ashton Kutcher was cast on the show in May and Sheen's character was killed off during the following Fall premiere.
"We got the show back. Everybody's working," Lorre said. "I'm eternally grateful we didn't walk away last winter and wrap it."As for Sheen, the actor has new work lined up and will star in the FX comedy "Anger Management," based on the comedy film which starred Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. The series will begin airing in the summer of 2012.