Jon Cryer on the Incredibly Long Life and ‘Absolutely Crazy’ Finale of Two and a Half Men

12-year role has been '87% blessing, 13% curse'

When he landed the role of Alan Harper on CBS' Two and a Half Men in 2003, Jon Cryer says he had "an unusual sense of confidence" that the show would break his streak of four failed TV series. It did a lot more than that, of course. After 12 hit seasons, Two and a Half Men closes shop on Feb. 19, going down in history as television's longest-running multicamera comedy. Shortly after shooting the final episode, the actor spoke with Adweek about the shrouded-in-secrecy, "absolutely crazy" final episode, the Charlie Sheen chapter and how Ashton Kutcher stepped in and revitalized the show, and what's up next.

Adweek: What was filming the finale like?

Cryer: It was very emotional for everybody. The writers had a huge challenge because they had to basically end two shows and somehow weave them together. And they seized upon a very meta concept and really ran with it. So it's unlike any show we ever did before—and frankly, unlike any series finale I've seen.

The title of the final episode, "Of Course He's Dead," seems to tease the return of Charlie Sheen. Does he come back?

I can honestly say I don't know because there were chunks of the finale that I was never allowed to read. Nobody got any piece of the script that they didn't 100 percent need, so I have not read the final tag of the show. They didn't even tell me they were shooting it! They shot it on another stage. I've said in the past, the amount of bridge-repairing necessary to make that happen, I thought was incredibly daunting and unlikely, but stranger things have happened in show business. 

Jon Cryer says goodbye to the show.  

The last long-running CBS sitcom to wrap, How I Met Your Mother, had a very divisive series finale. How do you think fans will react to yours?

I have no idea because it's a really unusual take on the show. It's in the same spirit of the show, but it really goes absolutely crazy. Everybody I know who's seen chunks of it feels it's very entertaining. But as I said, the show is almost two shows, so I think it would be impossible to satisfy the fans of both. 

TV has changed so much in the past 12 years. Why was Men able to endure when so few other sitcoms did?

It's very old school. We were doing an old-school sex farce, unapologetic, and I think one of the reasons that it was able to maintain an old-style broadcast audience was because that's what it was. It's a certain amount of luck that you just happen to hit something that really resonates with people and you're able to maintain this for a while.

At what point during the run did you exhale and realize this is going to be around for a while?

It took a couple of seasons. Once Everybody Loves Raymond was off the air and we were on our own in our time slot and we were still doing really, really well, that's when I felt, 'OK, this is going to last.' And of course, that's when Charlie got a divorce and suddenly things were starting to change. I had a good period of a couple of years where things were really humming along—and that's when all hell broke loose. 

Behind the scenes at the Two and a Half Men finale

When Charlie got fired in 2011, did you think that was it for the show?