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TODAY   |  March 29, 2012

Charlie Sheen: Previous behavior ‘cringeable’

In this TODAY exclusive, Charlie Sheen opens up to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about recovering from his public meltdown, saying that friends and family helped him clean up his act, and explains why he is excited about his new show on FX.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> what a difference a year makes. last year charlie sheen had what many would call a very public meltdown. got into a nasty war of words with the creator of the sitcom "two and a half men," and it cost him the role that made him television's highest paid actor. now a year later, sheen says he is a changed man, and he's shooting a new sitcom for fx called " anger management ." charlie, welcome back. it's good to see you.

>> nice to see you. thank you.

>> i'm going to start off with something that's going to sound awful at first, but bear with me, okay? there were people who probably last year at this time were the place to bet that you might not even be around. and i mean literally.

>> i would support that, sure.

>> literally.

>> yeah, i would have taken that action.

>> really?

>> no.

>> i was going to say, if i had inside information --

>> hello. yeah, matt, go for it. yeah.

>> you know there are people who thought you were on such a steep spiral --

>> yeah.

>> -- that it was going to end really badly.

>> yeah, it didn't because i was going to do a documentary with all the footage that i shot during the tour and the whole buildup during the meltdown, which is actually, you know, could be a nice case study one day. and in -- in looking at a lot of the stuff, i kind of went, ew. oh. i can't put that back out.

>> it bugs you to look at it?

>> it was cringeable. yeah. because i didn't recognize parts of who that guy was. i mean, the verbiage, you know, him looking like a real insane wordsmith was fine, but it was -- it was a trip down --

>> is it weird to have looked back and experience what seems like an out-of-body experience?

>> yeah. yeah, it is. i just wish it was somebody else's body. but no, you said it's been a year. it's either been a day or 100 years. i mean, it's either like that or -- yeah.

>> did you get through -- did you pull yourself through the weeds, or did you have someone close to you, a family member, a friend who grabbed you by the collar and said, you've got to get out of this place?

>> it was -- yeah, it was a team effort that was ultimately led by myself because it has to be to, you know, to make a decision to fix or, you know, change any situation. but yeah, no, there was a lot of close friends . there was a lot of support. not a lot of people close by saying, dude, you might just want to take a step back. let's watch this. are you sure about this?

>> you didn't have that kind of safety net at the time you need it had.

>> yeah. but i would say, what do you mean? it's brilliant.

>> things are going well now. you've got a sitcom that you've already begun to shoot. you're in a couple of high-profile commercials. you're going to be featured in a movie.

>> yeah.

>> is this where you thought you could get in a year?

>> no, i thought it would take at least 13 months. that's a joke. sorry. thank you. i didn't -- i didn't really have a plan. i was just -- i guess the plan was to just reintroduce myself to america and to the media and just say, sorry about that. but here's what's happening now.

>> kind of a relaunching.

>> yeah. it's a trip. it's not that much time to put this much back together.

>> there have been some headlines. there was some video that tmz got not long ago. you were, i think, coming out of a guns n' roses concert. to the untrained eye, it appears you were slightly looped.

>> no defense attorney will go to trial with evidence against him. not that crimes were committed. i didn't write "mr. brownstone." i didn't write the damn song. but if you don't drink a lot and you go out and there's guns n' roses, it's on.

>> however, you were someone who -- however, you're someone who's been to rehab in the past.

>> right.

>> you've admitted issues with drugs. i don't know one addiction specialist who would tell a guy in your position, it's okay to drink.

>> well, if you do, i should probably go to that guy. sorry. no, you're right. you're right. but i have different theorys about the whole thing. one of them is park near the vip exit.

>> so you don't get caught.

>> yeah.

>> are you comfortable having a drink, you know, from time to time and not being afraid that you're going to slip back into a much darker place?

>> yeah, because i don't believe that whole -- that whole piece of fiction that they insist that you have an allegiance to it, you know. but that's just me. that's just me.

>> you're not preaching.

>> no, no.

>> you start this new sitcom. you're one of the owners, basically. you work for yourself.

>> right.

>> but you've got partners.

>> because i'm late.

>> that's what i'm getting at. if you have an issue, personal, did they make you sign, or did anyone make you sign some sort of behavior clause? do you have to go through random drug testing ?

>> there's no testing unless, you know, something obvious happens, i show up covered in blood, somebody else's. no, but -- and there's clauses in any contract. you probably had to sign one 18 years ago.

>> we have drug testing here.

>> that dog that comes through. yeah, no. they're getting pretty serious about it. well, there's so much money at stake these days. i don't blame them.

>> but also other people's livelihoods. when the whole "two and a half men" thing melted down, there were people put on a shelf who needed to make a living.

>> and that was the argument against the studio and against chuck, but we're past all that.

>> do you think when the crew and the other cast members are working on this sitcom with you, they look at you a little like a volcano and they wonder when you might erupt?

>> i covered that in an opening speech to them on day one.

>> did you really?

>> yeah. we have it on video somewhere. i don't remember what i said, but got a big laugh. everybody felt good about it. but no. because i couldn't -- i think i mentioned to you i couldn't have the "two and a half" thing be my television legacy. i couldn't have that -- you know, end on that note. so if there's going to be the swan song , it's got to be a beautiful experience. and so far, eight days was more fun than eight years.

>> you play a therapist which is kind of funny in itself, i think.

>> start there.

>> what's he like, this guy?

>> he's flawed. i mean, he's -- he's -- he's an ex-ballplayer who had anger issues whose career ended because of an incident -- i don't want to give too much away -- trying to break a bat, you know, didn't go well. he's a guy that just wants to give something back, you know? if there was one person for the job, you weren't available. hello?

>> you, i guess, called into tmz at some point, and you had some harsh things to say about "two and a half men" and ashton kutcher .

>> i was having a moment.

>> i guess you apologized to kutcher saying the show stunk and he stunk. are there some lingering bitter feelings?

>> a little bit, but i've got to just work through that, you know. i could probably just do it in group on my show. just not out loud. no, it's -- i just wish they had taken better care of the child left behind, you know, coddled it a little more.

>> they're bringing your character back, i understand, as a ghost. do you know who's playing this?

>> kathy bates . i was honored. that's not supposed to be an insult. they missed. i was honored.

>> i'm not sure what to make of it. when we sit down a year from now, what's going to be the story?

>> i'll be on my yacht. it will be the same only better, and we'll actually look younger, you and i.

>> charlie, it's good to see you.

>> always a pleasure.

>> appreciate it. " anger management " premieres on the fx network on june 28th .