Jon Cryer enjoyed a very long run on the hit CBS series, "Two and a Half Men." And now that it's over, he's telling the whole truth about his career. Ben Tracy sat him down for this Sunday Profile:
"It seems that in your life there are three things that people always get wrong about you," said Ben Tracy. "They think you're Jewish. They think you're gay. And they think you are Matthew Broderick."
"Yes," laughed Cryer. "I'm a Jewish, gay Matthew Broderick."
In fact, Jon Cryer is not any of those things. What he is, is an actor coming off the biggest success of his career.
For 12 seasons he played Alan Harper on the hit CBS sitcom, "Two and a Half Men." The show ended its run in February, and Cryer decided to write a memoir, "So That Happened" (New American Library), about all the things that have happened to him during 30 years in show business -- some more R rated than PG.
The book's dedication reads: "To my beautiful children, Charlie and Daisy. (Please don't read the part about the prostitute.)"
"Yes, well, I thought I'd give 'em a little heads-up," Cryer laughed. "You know, as my five-year-old is going, 'Oh, okay, this isn't "Dr. Seuss," Dad.' I really felt like I had lived a very sort of sheltered life, and mostly had pretty good experiences in show business. But I had forgotten about some of the weirdness. And thankfully, in the process of writing the book, all of that weirdness came back."
Cryer, who is about to turn 50, was bit by the acting bug early. He grew up in New York City, and both of his parents were actors.
"When you're a little kid and you're backstage seeing all these crazy, magical people floating in and out of your life, it can't help but cast a spell on you," he said. "I wanted to be a part of that."
He spent his summers at theater camp where he honed his skills.
Cryer made it to the bright lights of Broadway in 1983. In both "Torch Song Trilogy" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs," he replaced another actor to whom he had an uncanny resemblance: Matthew Broderick.
And then came John Hughes' 1986 classic, "Pretty in Pink." Cryer played Phillip Dale, also known as "Duckie," and is forever remembered for this moment:
Tracy asked, "How much of you was in that character?"
"Duckie was the guy I wanted to be in high school," Cryer said. "I was a theater geek at a science geek school. So I did not fit in. I wore leg warmers. I'm not proud of it! I wish that I had been as extroverted and sure of myself as Duckie was. But that was not me."
His chemistry on- and off-camera with co-stars Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy was a bit frosty.
"Molly and Andrew were very reserved people, and I'm a very outgoing person," Cryer said. "That could've worked out great, you know, that dynamic. But it didn't!" he laughed. "I think they were irritated by me from Day One "
Ringwald had wanted someone else to play Duckie: Robert Downey Jr. And the original ending of the film, in which Duckie gets the girl, had to be re-shot because test audiences didn't buy it -- and even booed.
Cryer thinks he may know why: "I've been an effeminate heterosexual dork my whole life!" he said. "It's confusing. It's confusing to women, it's confusing to men. I understand."
After "Pretty in Pink" came a series of film flops, including one Cryer thought would be a blockbuster. He played Lex Luther's nephew in "Superman 4." It bombed.
Even Cryer's grandmother didn't like it. "Yes, that was the sword that really hurt."