Martin Sheen, who played President Josiah Bartlett on The West Wing, recently admitted to Closer Weekly that he regrets changing his birth name to his stage name. According to Sheen, the name on his birth certificate and other official documents are still Ramon Estevez. Sheen said that he had been persuaded to change his name when he first entered the industry, presumably to make it more marketable in a different era. This is something that Sheen now wishes he could go back on, which he presumably could still do.
Martin Sheen’s two sons also had their choice when choosing which direction to go with their names. Charlie and Emilio decided to go with different choices, with Charlie going with Sheen and Emilio going with Estevez. Sheen’s brother Joe, also an actor, stuck with the name Estevez too. Apparently, Sheen was able to convince Emilio to keep his name instead of caving into pressure and changing it to Sheen as well.
In any case, Martin Sheen was able to find plenty of success, though the result likely would have been the same either way thanks to his acting talent. Sheen has spoken about the decision before. In an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Sheen revealed that there was a hesitation when he gave his name for auditions and the role was always gone when he arrived. He said that he started getting work after changing his name and it was too late to go back after that.
Martin Sheen has been a working actor since way back in 1956, though it took a while for him to break through and become the prominent actor he’s known as today. Arguably, his breakout roles wouldn’t come until the 1970s when he appeared in Badlands in 1973 and, more notably, Apocolypse Now in 1979. In the late 90s and early 2000s, he landed the prominent role of the President in The West Wing. Most recently, he appeared in the final season of the Netflix series Grace and Frankie. The series told the story of rivals Grace and Frankie, whose lives radically change when they find out their husbands are in love and want to get married. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin starred as Grace and Frankie throughout the seven seasons while Sheen and Sam Waterston played their husbands. The show became Netflix’s longest-running original series with 94 episodes, getting 13 Emmy nominations throughout its run.
Martin Sheen’s next role will be in the upcoming TV series Ramble On, which tells the story of aspiring stars looking to start their careers and established stars looking to reinvent theirs. The series comes from Entourage creator Doug Ellin and will see Sheen unite on-screen with his son Charlie Sheen. It will also star Emanuelle Chriqui, Jamie-Lynn Siegler, John C. McGinley, Kimiko Glenn, Bre-Z, Kevin Dillon, Ana Ortiz, Harvey Guillen, Kevin Connolly, James Hiroyuki Liao, Zulay Henao, Mark Cuban, Sara Sanderson, and Adam Waheed. Ramble On is in post-production and it is expected that we should see it sometime in 2022.