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Martin Sheen: 'I didn't know I was so close to death'

Published 04/05/2016

Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen

Doctors gave Martin Sheen a wake-up call during his physical for Netflix series.

Former The West Wing star Martin Sheen literally owes his life to his new Netflix show.

The veteran actor was thrilled when Grace and Frankie was picked up for a third season - and then floored when he discovered how unhealthy he was during a routine physical.

"When we got the pick-up for season three, the producers told us we all needed to have a complete physical - blood tests, stress tests, the whole nine yards," Martin, 75, tells TV Guide magazine.

"And thank God for that, because I found out I was in really bad shape. I could have been dead on a sidewalk somewhere."

But his co-star Sam Waterson insists the comedy has extended his life and the lives of Martin and their TV wives Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin - because they're always having a ball on set.

"Jane, Lily, Martin and I report for work and basically laugh our way through the entire day," he explains. "It's such a pleasure at this stage of our lives to finally be over it - over the business and especially over ourselves. We're just glad to be alive.

"The best, most marvellous thing about our show is that it's a reminder of how precious little time we all have."

Although they are having the time of their lives on set, Martin reveals he's unwilling to participate scenes that are too over-the-top.

"I don't like pornography or even risque stuff," the veteran actor shares. "I admit it. I am a Catholic and I am a prude. I am not going to say the F-word.

"Last season, I refused to climb on the giant phallus (at his gay character's bachelor party). The script called for Sam and me to ride that thing and we both said, 'Nope, not gonna do it'. It was juvenile and we would have lost our dignity."

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