Shining the Spotlight on Social Causes
In this compelling speech, Martin Sheen discusses his passion for activism and its necessary place in today’s political, humanitarian and social arenas. Unabashedly outspoken on issues such as nuclear weapons and the treatment of the homeless in the United States, Mr. Sheen gives a voice to those who need it most. He shares the reasons behind his actions and explains the importance of being able to express a deeply personal, deeply moral opinion and be held accountable.
Endeared to audiences nation-wide for his seven-year run as President Bartlet on NBC’s award-winning series The West Wing, Martin Sheen uses his dynamic presence and celebrity status to lend an inspired voice to peace and social justice issues such as nuclear weapons, the treatment of immigrants, the alleviation of poverty and homelessness, and the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars where he gives a voice to those he feels need it most. Mr. Sheen is Special Envoy to Front Line International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. A fervent promoter of the principles of Catholic social thought in word and in action, Martin Sheen’s passion for activism and its necessary place in today's political, humanitarian and social arenas has inspired generations. For over four decades, he has been an ardent supporter of causes that advocate peace and encourage justice throughout the world.
Born Ramon Estevez to immigrant parents, Sheen left his Dayton, Ohio home for the bright lights of NYC, apprenticing at Judith Malina and Julian Beck’s Living Theater. He grabbed attention in Frank Gilroy’s The Subject Was Roses (1964) with a Tony-nominated turn as a returning war veteran opposite Jack Albertson, later reprising his roll in the 1968 film version. Sheen’s feature debut came as a delinquent terrorizing the occupants of a subway car in The Incident (1967), but his real breakthrough came as the alienated, amoral yet charismatic killer on the run with Sissy Spacek in Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973).
In the 70’s Sheen embarked on a series of critically-acclaimed projects for the small screen, earning an Emmy nomination for his sensitive portrayal of the deserter in The Execution of Private Slovik. Also, that same year was the powerful The Missiles of October which saw him slip into the skin of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, his first of many fictional forays into political life. Sheen’s turn as the military assassin sent to terminate the command of a crazed Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now that remains one of his signature roles.
Despite the time devoted to social justice, his amazing output of film and TV roles has never slowed. He donated his salary for his work on Gandhi (1982) to various charities and he portrayed a union official father at odds with the insider trading world of his financier son (Charlie) in Oliver Stone’s absorbing Wall Street (1987). He executive produced and starred in two features, playing Barnard Hughes’ son in DA and a trial judge in Leo Penn’s Judgment in Berlin, and he also executive produced and starred in the TNT movie Nightbreaker (1989), in which son Emilio essayed his character at an earlier stage.
Martin Sheen has been a prolific actor since the late 1960’s. He has played over 100 roles, including such films as Badlands, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed, Bobby and The Way a film written and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez. Their published father/son memoir Along the Way was released in May 2012.
Martin and his wife Janet have been married for 50 years and they have four children: Emilio, Ramon, Renee and Charlie.