‘The West Wing’: Martin Sheen Helped Shape President Bartlet’s Background

by Jeremy Spirogis
The cast of

The West Wing is arguably among the best drama reveals to have ever aired on tv. The present aired at a very controversial time. Writer Aaron Sorkin started engaged on the present’s script through the Bill Clinton administration.

There weren’t many political reveals throughout that point, and the present virtually didn’t see the sunshine of day. One of Sorkin’s calls for was for the script to stay as was. However, Martin Sheen performed a major function in shaping one of many present’s essential characters.

‘The West Wing’ narrowly made it to TV

The cast of 'The West Wing.'
L to R: Allison Janney as Claudia Jean ‘C.J.’ Cregg, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler, John Spencer as Leo McGarry, Martin Sheen as President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet, Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn, Dule Hill as Charlie Young, Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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The West Wing first aired in September 1999. The sequence got here after the broadly common present the American President, which Sorkin additionally wrote. Initially, the sequence was meant to deal with the present’s directors, with the president taking a again seat and solely showing in particular episodes.

However, the audiences started noticing Sheen’s efficiency, and his character, the president, quickly grew in reputation. The writers needed to incorporate President Bartlet into lots of the scenes, thus considerably lowering the need of specializing in the opposite directors.

The present centered on President Bartlet and his administration as they tackled legislative and political points. Other scenes addressed some critical social issues akin to post-traumatic problems and household points.

When Sorkin was approached to work on the present’s script, he didn’t need to do it. He, nonetheless, received to write down the pilot and introduced it to the community executives. When he submitted the pilot’s draft, NBC was cautious and wasn’t positive that anybody would watch a political present.

Additionally, the information of President Clinton’s affair with a staffer rocked the nation, and the studio executives feared that the present would fail attributable to this. Regardless of the conditions that plagued the present when it started, it managed to develop in reputation to change into one of many most-watched reveals of all time.

Who is Martin Sheen?

Martin Sheen in 'The West Wing.'Martin Sheen in 'The West Wing.'
Martin Sheen as President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet on ‘The West Wing.’ | Scott Garfield/NBCU Photo Bank

Sheen was born on August 3, 1940, as Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez. Sheen’s work was closely influenced by the actor James Dean. In the hopes of getting recognition, Sheen opened a manufacturing firm.

In 1963, Sheen appeared in an episode of the sequence The Outer Limits in 1968. He additionally appeared in The Subject Was Roses and reprised his function within the 1968 remake of the identical identify. His efficiency earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best-Supporting Actor.

In the 1960s and 70s, Sheen appeared in lots of extra movies akin to My Three Sons, Hawaii Five-0, Columbo, The Rookies and The Streets Of San Francisco. In 1972, the 80-year-old actor appeared in That Certain Summer. The movie received an Emmy award regardless of being concerned in a number of controversies. It was the one movie which portrayed homosexuality in the very best mild by that point’s requirements.

Sheen’s favourite function got here within the movie Badlands, the place he performed a a number of assassin. His different favourite function was within the movie Apocalypse, the place he performed a U.S Army Special Operations Officer. Sheen performed President John F Kennedy within the present Kennedy and White House Chief of Staff A.J McInnerney within the American President.

Sheen performed an important function in his function on ‘The West Wing’

Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill in 'The West Wing'Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill in 'The West Wing'
Martin Sheen and Dulé Hill in ‘The West Wing’
| NBCU Photo Bank

When Sheen was introduced on to play President Bartlet, he thought he was taking over a recurring function. Sorkin meant to indicate the president in just a few episodes and targeted on the employees members.

However, when Sheen appeared on the finish of the primary scene, his efficiency was distinctive that everybody wished to have him round. When Sheen renegotiated to look extra within the sequence, the community gave its suggestions for Bartlet’s background.

However, being a Catholic himself, Sheen wished Bartlet to be Catholic and type his opinions from an ethical reference as Sheen did. He additionally requested that Bartlet be a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. Sorkin agreed to all of the phrases, and thus President Bartlet turned the primary character.

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