A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Director Roman Coppola’s new comedy taps into the subconscious of the ultimate antihero.
Charles Swan III, the self-involved cad played by Charlie Sheen in Roman Coppola’s surreal new film A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, is “consumed almost exclusively with sex, though he’s also in thrall to power and money,” Coppola says. His outward symptoms include—but are hardly limited to—a prodigious intake of drugs and drink and a tendency toward delusions of grandeur. This playboy in the midst of a downward spiral could also, of course, call to mind the troubled actor who plays him—or at least the catchphrase-spewing id-monster of two years ago.
“I didn’t write the character for Charlie,” the director says of his longtime friend. “But obviously there are corollaries.” The two met as young men on the set of 1979’s Apocalypse Now (their fathers, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Sheen, were the film’s director and star) and had always wanted to work together. Shot during a period when Sheen’s private life had become unavoidably public, the movie provided an opportunity for the actor to escape into a stylized reality and his character’s subconscious—a place where a lover’s quarrel can be reimagined as a Wild West showdown. “Sometimes you just want to talk to the woman you love,” Coppola says. “But what you get is an arrow through the heart—literally.”