Hot Shot, Part Deux

Charlie Sheen makes a big-screen comeback this month in Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. Just don’t let his over-the-top performance obscure the L.A. details

In Roman Coppola’s new film Charlie Sheen gets staggeringly drunk, stalks his ex-girlfriend, smashes in a glass door, attempts to score cocaine from a cab driver, and runs away from the police. No doubt moviegoers will make more than a few #winning comparisons between the famously off-the-rails actor and his hedonistic, titular character in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. But Coppola swears he didn’t initially write the script with his longtime family friend in mind. (Their famous dads worked together on Apocalypse Now.) “I had the idea a few years ago and wrote a version of the screenplay before Charlie signed on,” Coppola says. “Then we reworked elements of it together.”

 Despite the uncanny similarities between the two Charlies, including a car crash scene in nearly the same spot where Sheen’s Mercedes once took a four-wheel cliff dive, don’t let the meta-performance distract you. Drawing from 1970s Hollywood films that were themselves inspired by film noir, Coppola has imagined a fantastical, artfully nuanced Los Angeles. The actors drink, dress, and drive as if they’ve just stepped out of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown or Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. “Usually movies about L.A. in the ’70s have everyone in wide collars and sideburns,” Coppola says. “But this is a Roxy Music approach, the 1970s aesthetic I latched onto when I would visit the city from San Francisco when I was ten.”

Coppola shot on location at the Musso & Frank Grill, Bronson Canyon, and his own house and work space. “The scenes in Charlie’s kitchen take place in my kitchen,” he says. “It doesn’t get more personal.”