Not every commander in chief can say they approve of their successor. But if President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet’s ends up being played by Sterling K Brown? Well then, Martin Sheen tells TheWrap he would definitely endorse that candidate.
Last fall, “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin told The Hollywood Reporter his idea for a possible reboot of the series — for which he says he has a “standing offer” from NBC — saw the “This Is Us” star in the Oval Office and “some kind of jam” brings Sheen’s Bartlet in to advise Brown’s POTUS “in the way that Bill Clinton used to consult with Nixon.” Brown tweeted soon after that he would be “honored” to lead that project.
And while Sheen isn’t familiar with the Emmy-winning actor, as he told TheWrap in February, he has full faith in Sorkin’s selection.
“I have heard of him, but I have not seen the show, so I couldn’t speak to his talent” Sheen, the narrator and executive producer of CNN’s upcoming six-part docuseries “American Dynasties: The Kennedys,” told TheWrap last month. “But if Aaron were to choose him, I would have 100 percent confidence in him.”
While on the topic, Sheen gave us a little glimpse into the series that could have been, which he says would have given the country its first African American president years before Barack Obama was elected.
“You know, the original idea for ‘The West Wing’ that we did was a Black president,” Sheen said. “And I believe it was James Earl Jones that was the choice. And he decided not to do it. That’s my understanding of the original effort to get ‘The West Wing’ on the air. It was a much different story.”
And Sheen would have backed that plot too. Too bad that’s not the story Sorkin had prepped.
“To clarify — one of the first casting ideas was Sidney Poitier (who wasn’t available), but the character was never written as ‘a black president,'” a representative for Sorkin told TheWrap in response to Sheen’s comments. “No race was ever specified. They were just trying to cast the role with the best actor.”
So Sheen didn’t lose his leading gig to Poitier — or Jones. But the actor, whose political leanings are firmly on the liberal side, says has so much faith in Sorkin and his creative vision that he would have endorsed pretty much whatever the executive producer wanted to make of the original series, which ran from 1999 to 2006 — and anything he has in mind for a follow-up.
“When I was doing ‘The West Wing,’ I was asked a number of different times, ‘Would you play Bartlet if he was a Republican?'” Sheen told TheWrap. “And I said, ‘As long as Aaron Sorkin wrote him, I would be delighted to play him.’ So If Aaron is going to reboot the series with a different focus, I would say ‘bravo.’ I would look forward to that.”
“American Dynasties: The Kennedys” premieres March 11 at 9 p.m. on CNN.