June 16, 2024

Charlie Sheen isn’t the only “Two and a Half Men” star to reunite with exec producer Chuck Lorre on his new Max comedy “Bookie.” Also making a cameo in the “Bookie” series’ opener: Angus T. Jones, the “half man” from “Two and a Half Men,” now all grown up.

Sheen’s appearance on “Bookie” (which premiered Nov. 30 on Max) is rightfully getting all of the attention, given the newsworthiness of his reunion with Lorre, a decade after their explosive falling out.

READ MORE: Chuck Lorre on How He Patched Things Up With Charlie Sheen: ‘We Were Friends Once’ (EXCLUSIVE)

But Jones’ appearance is also notable: The young actor wasn’t a regular cast member in the final two seasons of “Two and a Half Men,” and even at one point dismissed his contributions to the show, calling himself “a paid hypocrite.”

Like Sheen, Jones plays himself in the “Bookie” premiere. And in a bit of an Easter egg for fans of the “Two and a Half Men” pilot, it’s not just Sheen and Jones who are back. Lorre had a bit of fun with his past, re-creating a well-remembered moment from the pilot, when Jake (a then-9-year-old Jones) is watching his uncle Charlie Harper (Sheen) play poker with his buddies.

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Almost everyone who sat at that “Two and a Half Men” poker table in 2003 — Sheen, Jones Eddie Gorodetsky, Eugene Byrd, Frankie Jay Allison and Dan Foster (Thomas F. Wilson couldn’t make it) — are back for the 2023 “Bookie” scene.

The idea came out of a scene in “Bookie” where series leads Danny (Sebastian Maniscalco) and Ray (Omar Dorsey) visit Sheen, who is holding a poker game inside a rehab center. As Variety earlier reported, Sheen had asked Lorre and co-creator Nick Bakay if they could tweak their script so that his character wasn’t actually staying at the facility. Instead, he’s just running a poker game there because he likes the location and its free parking.

“And then we both at the same time when we were talking about the scene, we both went, let’s recreate the poker scene from the pilot of ‘Two and a Half Men,’” Lorre said. “Which is those guys at the table, 20 years ago, when we shot the pilot. Angus was nine years old, and [as Jake], he was in his pajamas, annoying the guys playing poker. And now 20 years later, let’s see if Angus wants to come play and be in the scene as one of the poker players now.

“I called Angus and said, ‘you want to come hang out for an afternoon and have some fun and do this?’ And he was game. His chops are also uncanny. He didn’t pursue acting after the show. But he’s still a natural.”

Added Bakay: “That scene grew out of some back and forth, in terms of what was the comfort zone of what Charlie wanted to do. And then, that was Chuck’s idea, sort of a little gift to the ‘Two and a Half Men completionists out there. It is literally a recreation of the very first scene of the very first episode, and that poker game. Everybody at that table was in that first ‘Two and a Half Men’ scene and there’s Angus all grown up.”

John Johnson/Max; Getty Images

Jones left “Two and a Half Men” at the end of Season 10, and wasn’t seen in Seasons 11 or 12 — but he did return for the series finale in 2015. Given the mixed emotions he shared at the time about being a child actor and the show, Variety asked Lorre how things seemed to be going now for Jones (who just turned 30).

“He’s doing great,” Lorre said. “He’s a terrific guy. It’s an extraordinary thing. We started working together, he was eight years old. He’s a little boy, right? With just uncanny comedic instincts, without thinking. It was just in his DNA. And to work together again, 20 years later, we had fun. It was a wonderful afternoon. Everybody had the same reaction: ‘Oh my God. You’re a grown man!’”

Sheen’s and Jones’ co-star Jon Cryer doesn’t appear in the episode, but he is namechecked. So, is this a precursor to a “Two and a Half Men” reunion?

“I don’t think so,” Lorre said. “Not that I’m aware of. It’s foolish to say never. It’s still to me more gratifying and fun to do new stuff. And to let let the stuff we did in the past be the past.”

Now that the wounds have healed, particularly between Sheen and Lorre, could at least a sit-down interview special (like the one Max did with “Friends”) at least be possible? Lorre isn’t sure. “It was just a lot, for both of us, we were grateful to be past it,” he said of reuniting with Sheen. “Here we are, so many years later. And there was a lot of gratitude. I think it was warm. People said it must have been healing and you know, it was. It was wonderful to not just give the man a hug. We worked together and we had a blast. It was very reminiscent of those wonderful eight years where we had a lot of fun making a show that we worked hard on and we were proud of.”

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