He's battled the network that carried his hit show, thrown parties that he says would put rock stars to shame and consumed seven-gram rocks of crack cocaine in a single hit. But when Charlie Sheen came to Toronto for the first of two shows Thursday, he made a point of obeying Ontario's smoking laws.
Earlier in the day, Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best suggested the self-proclaimed “warlock Vatican assassin” and chain-smoker could be fined if he lit up onstage during his gigs at Massey Hall, and told him to call the government's toll-free number for help quitting his habit.
Throughout the evening, he avoided smoking inside the building, stepping onto a fire escape out back to relieve his cravings.
He made his first appearance on a second-floor landing shortly before the show as fans crowded into the parking lot below.
As he puffed on a cigarette, he waved and chatted with people below.
When someone asked: “Can't you smoke inside, Charlie?” he shook his head; told “Do it! You can pay the fine!”, he replied, “No, no.”
At the start of the show, shortly after walking onstage to an introduction from comedian Russell Peters, he addressed the issue head-on.
“Let's start with the fact that there's no ashtray onstage tonight,” he said to a chorus of boos. “That's alright – because this is the first city where I haven't felt I needed one.”
“And the fine for smoking one is $300,000 per cigarette,” Mr. Peters joked.
Instead, Mr. Sheen pulled out a fake cigarette that emitted water vapour.
At one point towards the end of the 70-minute show, Mr. Sheen called a seemingly spontaneous six-minute intermission so he could dash back out to the fire escape for the real thing.
The show consisted primarily of Mr. Peters asking Mr. Sheen questions, covering his sex life, discussing his previous interviews and his hopes for Two and a Half Men. On the topic of the sitcom, from which the actor was fired after insulting his bosses, he said he was hoping he could sort things out with the network.
His every pronouncement was greeted with cheers, applause and frequent heckles.
The show drew an enthusiastic crowd, including many young fans, cash-for-gold guru Russell Oliver (who became the butt of his namesake's jokes) and a woman who had Mr. Sheen drink a toast to her dead husband's ashes.
Many of his well-wishers had travelled just to catch a glimpse of the star.
“I just love how he can ramble about nothing and still make people laugh,” said Christine Levesque, 25, who came from Niagara Falls with her friends, hoping to get last-minute tickets, shortly after trying to convince Mr. Sheen to throw her his baseball cap as he stood above on the fire escape.
Jamie Ross and Eric Stevens, both 22, were impressed with the actor's easygoing interaction with the crowd – not to mention his attitude towards life.
“He's a relaxed guy, he's pretty chill,” Mr. Stevens said. “He does what he wants. He does what everyone would do if they had the money.”
After the show ended, Mr. Sheen made two further trips to the fire escape, signed autographs and smoked a little more.
There was no word on whether he planned to take Ms. Best up on her offer to help him quit.