Charlie Sheen: Albert L. Ortega/
Liane Bonin
September 18, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

On Two and a Half Men (Monday, 9:30 p.m.; premieres Sept. 20 on CBS), Charlie Sheen plays a smooth bachelor with an appetite for the good things in life, like fast cars and fast women. But if Charlie Harper the character sounds like Charlie Sheen the real person to you, you haven’t been paying attention. Since marrying Denise Richards (Scary Movie 3) in 2002 and having daughter Sam this March, the former party boy says he has been tamed. Here are the ways that Sheen, 39, has embraced his inner grown-up.

HE’S NOT CRAZY ABOUT RELIVING HIS WILD YEARS Playing a character who resembles a prime-time-friendly version of his younger self doesn’t rekindle fond memories for the actor. ”I’m not gonna lie to you,” says Sheen. ”It’s not great. I think I’m higher evolved than this guy.” He knows that’s not the kind of spin likely to please CBS execs, but he doesn’t care if the truth hurts. ”I’m tired of lying, like saying, ‘Doing this is great and then I get to go home to my real life!’ Bulls—. It’s juvenile. You’ve definitely got to grow up. I’m glad that I can play this character and provide entertainment in this world and people think it’s great. But personally, it’s not uncomfortable, but it’s tedious.” Tell us how you really feel, Chuck.

HE’S LEARNED TO LISTEN Sheen, who’s had some career mishaps (1990’s Men at Work, 1994’s Major League II) now makes a point of getting other opinions before he commits to a project. ”My dad’s pretty tactful when it comes to critiques, and my wife’s the one who read the [Two and a Half Men] script and said, ‘You’ve got to do this show.’ I was feeling on the fence about it, but she read it and said, ‘This thing is a hit, it’s a gem. Do this.”’

HE CAN ENJOY FATHERHOOD Sheen, who became a parent for the first time with daughter Cassandra almost 20 years ago, says that being a daddy is a very different experience for him now. ”I appreciate certain things a lot more. I have an older daughter, but I didn’t raise her. I wasn’t a screw-up or a deadbeat dad — I was just working two or three movies a year and was never home and never present. I had a chance to do it right this time.”

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