Platoon is right up there with Apocalpyse Now as one of the best films about the Vietnam War ever made. However, it looks like that achievement doesn’t come easy. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Charlie Sheen recounts a story where his co-star Forest Whitaker got a serious injury while training for the movie.
In Charlie Sheen’s retelling, he talks about how he and his other co-stars were undergoing a boot camp supervised by Hollywood military consultant Dale Dye. According to Sheen, Forest Whitaker attempted to cut a coconut with a machete and it didn’t end well. He ended up hitting his thumb which caused Sheen to scream for a medic. While this certainly isn’t as harrowing as war itself, it definitely doesn’t sound like a relaxing picnic for the actors involved.
It does seem like the labor of love was worth it though. Platoon ended up being nominated for a whopping eight Oscars and took home four of them, including the coveted Best Picture. Director Oliver Stone got his Oscar for Best Director, and the sound and editing team also took home the trophy for Best Sound and Best Film Editing. Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe both got acting nominations. Along with Charlie Sheen, Berenger, Whitaker, and Dafoe, the film also starred Keith David, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, and an early role for Johnny Depp.
If you haven’t seen Platoon, it’s absolutely worth the watch, if the list of Academy Awards nominations and wins wasn’t proof enough. Charlie Sheen plays a recruit in the Vietnam War named Chris Taylor who serves under two sergeants played by Berenger and Dafoe. One sergeant is war-worn and cynical while one is more empathetic and sensitive. It holds a very respectable 87% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 93% audience score. The movie is appropriately brutal, but if you like grounded war movies like Saving Private Ryan, then you’ll appreciate Platoon as well.
Platoon was definitely a turning point for Charlie Sheen’s career, so the filming of the movie was sure to be memorable for him. It’s a role that really put him on the map back in 1986. Sheen would later reunite with Oliver Stone for Wall Street before making a pivot toward TV with his highly successful and popular sitcom Two and a Half Men. Sheen starred on the show for eight years before being fired and replaced by Ashton Kutcher. Since then, Sheen has stuck mostly to TV, with his most successful outing being the 2012-2014 series Anger Management. His most recent project release-wise was in 2021 when he co-starred alongside George Clooney and Laura Dern in a movie called Grizzly II: Revenge, though the movie was actually filmed back in 1983.
Needless to say, it’s unlikely 56-year old Charlie Sheen is going to be chomping at the bit to do any more war boot camps for upcoming projects. That kind of experience seems like the kind where one time is more than enough. Still, you can’t argue that the training camp did instill a sense of brotherhood and longing for home in the actors involved. Though the actors are probably happy to just have it as a memory now, the results will live on in the great film they made.