The Charliad

The strange tale of Charlie Sheen in Glasgow

Charlie Sheen in Glasgow
Charlie “Charles” Sheen filming on the streets of Glasgow

Albert Pyun is the prolific director of films such as The Sword and the Sorcerer, Dollman, Cyborg, Brainsmasher…a Love Story, and the 1990 Captain America. Matchbox Cineclub once screened a film of his, called Radioactive Dreams, and he graciously recorded us a short and charming intro for it, on his phone. Pyun is a sweetheart and a total workhorse who’s made many, many films, mostly low budget or direct-to-video. He’s one of those guys who’s always working, often wherever budgets and sometimes tax credits take him. And in the summer of 1997, between a film called Mean Guns (starring Ice T and Christopher Lambert) and another called Sorcerers, he made a wee movie called Postmortem, AKA Obit, which was filmed in Glasgow.

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How many people know Charlie Sheen made a film in Glasgow? It’s been suggested he took the role in Postmortem to attempt to get more serious roles, and that might explain why he’s billed as “Charles” Sheen. But of the four films he made as Charles Sheen, one was directed by Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison, and collectively they don’t make a persuasive case for that argument.

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Postmortem was filmed in Glasgow,  but also set in Glasgow – unusual even now – with a mostly local supporting cast. Joining Charles was a just-pre-Rushmore Stephen McCole (later of Orphans, Neds and River City), Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot, Neds) and Ivana Milicevic, a Sarajevo-born actress with a flawless Scots-Irish-American-Yugoslavian accent. Here’s the blurb:

The only way to trap a serial killer is to know what he thinks, what he feels and… when he’ll strike again! James MacGregor (Charles Sheen) is a brilliant but burned-out forensic detective who travels to Scotland in a desperate attempt to put his life back together. However, his best-selling book detailing his experience tracking serial killers in the US brings him immediate and unwanted notoriety. When a woman’s body is found in his garden following a mysterious faxed obituary, MacGregor is unwillingly pulled into the investigation to find her killer. As more faxes are received and the brutal murders increase, can he track down the man responsible?

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It was filmed in around 10 days (maybe 9, maybe 11), and Sheen’s work was done in six. As Pyun has explained elsewhere, “Charlie really made Postmortem the success it was with his talent and heroism. He worked only six days and had to do eighteen to twenty pages and fifteen to sixteen scenes per day! Wow!” And if you work that hard, it’s understandable – predictable, even – if you need to blow off a little steam. So, one day, Charles clocked out and Charlie took the night off.

The resulting stramash reads like an odyssey – let’s call it the Charliad – across Greater Glasgow. Mr Sheen started in the infamous city centre club Archaos, enjoying a little cocaine while rubbing shoulders with Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne and other footballers spending a small fortune on VIP lounge drinks. It’s claimed Charlie also fell afoul of a number of prospective drug deals, leaving him wary enough of the locals to later look for the reassurance of a locally-purloined gun (the cocaine brain can house such contradictions).

archaos vip
Archaos’ VIP Sky Bar in 1998

Charlie and his minder left the club at 2am, taking a taxi to the Hilton in Anderston, where he was staying. Sheen, however, refused to disembark, despite the protestations of his guardian. The star was determined instead to patronise the West End nightclub Cleopatra’s (affectionately known as Clatty Pat’s, but most recently as Viper), but – alas – it was closed.

Eventually, Sheen persuaded his minder to accompany him back out into the night, instructing the cabbie to “take us to the hookers”. He tried and failed to pick up several prostitutes, who refused him either because he was too drunk or because his abusive reputation preceded him. Finally, one of the women he accosted, Lorraine Brown, agreed to go with him, but brought her boyfriend (and alleged pimp), Billy McGeachin along. Sheen gave Brown £300, with a promise of three times that if she could get him cocaine.

They drove on to Easterhouse (which Sheen decided looked “like the Bronx”), where McGeachin had primed a local drug dealer for their arrival. Unfortunately, McGeachin later recollected, he’d let slip who was coming. “They wanted to get Charlie out the taxi and tie him up,” he told the Daily Record. And, worse, there were no drugs. Brown and McGeachin, both addicts in need of the promised cash, ground £30 worth of speed into sugar from a bowl. “We acted fast,” McGeachin remembered, “because the guys in the house were building up the courage to go down and kidnap him.”

Back in the taxi, Charlie handed them a mix of currency amounting to around £4,000 in 2018 money. Charlie then asked McGeachin to get him a gun. Sheen explained he’d feel safer with one, while his bodyguard ruefully shook his head. According to Brown, Charlie “kept calling everyone ‘n****r’ and saying he didn’t care if he got shot, and didn’t take any ‘n****r shit’ from anyone.”

Sheen and his entourage then voyaged to a 24-hour shop on Argyle Street (the now-closed Mo’s), intending to buy baking powder, spoon and tinfoil to make crack. Thwarted, Charlie grabbed a packet of biscuits and walked the aisles eating them. Asked to pay, he reportedly retorted, “Where we come from, we kick the shit out of guys like you.” If you’re struggling for a visual, the taxi driver remembers Sheen wearing a green baseball cap and a Hawaiian shirt under a beige tweed jacket. They returned to the hotel.

What happened next is lost to history, though we can assume Charles was back in charge the next day, and production on Postmortem concluded without further incident.

As a Hollywood film that lets Glasgow play itself (albeit with some imaginative geography), Postmortem remains a rare curiosity and completely enjoyable on its own terms. Albert Pyun is still making films, often taking on several crew roles at once, a vocation which helps offset his early onset dementia. Billy McGeachin, at last notice, was sober and a full-time carer. Lorraine Brown sadly died in 2002. Charlie…well, it’s very easy to find out what Charlie did next. He’s never returned to Scotland, though. Not yet.

Albert Pyun’s Bad Ass Angels and Demons is currently in production. Check out the GoFundMe page here: