Martin Sheen Admits Changing His Name from Ramon Estévez Is 'One of My Regrets'

Three of his children continued using Sheen's original Spanish last name, Estévez

Martin Sheen attends the screening of "Molly's Game" at the Closing Night Gala at AFI FEST 2017 Presented By Audi on November 16, 2017 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty

Martin Sheen regrets changing his birth name.

In an interview with Closer Weekly, the West Wing star, 81, spoke about not knowing better at a young age when he adopted his stage name, changing it from Ramon Estévez. (His father, who was Spanish, was born in Salceda de Caselas, Galicia.)

"That's one of my regrets," he said to the outlet. "Sometimes you get persuaded when you don't have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in, and you pay for it later."

Though fans know Sheen by his stage name, he claims he thankfully never changed anything legally. "I never changed my name officially," he explained, "It's still Ramon Estévez on my birth certificate. It's on my marriage license, my passport, driver's license."

Sheen has four children, all in the industry, and three of them continued using their Spanish last name, Estévez.

When talking about his children getting into the business, he said his only influence on son Emilio Estévez, 60, was him keeping his name. "When he started out, his agent was advising him to change his name to Sheen and he wouldn't do it. And I thank God he didn't."

As for them joining the business, Sheen admits he wasn't too involved. "I was so self-involved and trying to be a provider that I wasn't aware of their inclination to being actors," he said.

"I was doing a show one time, and Emilio showed up," he recalled. "I thought he was there to visit me, but he'd gotten a part in the same show."

Actor Martin Sheen (L) and director Emilio Estevez attend AARP's Movies For Grown Ups Film Festival screening of "The Way" at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty

In 2019, Emilio spoke to PEOPLE about working with his father in The Way, a movie he directed that starred Sheen.

"My dad's performance in the way is amazing," Emilio said. "He's lovely in the film."

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When it comes to working together, Emilio admitted family dynamics can be a mixed bag. "It's amazing but it's also complicated because you know where all the buttons are because you helped build the machine," the Breakfast Club star said.

"But at the end of the day he said it's the film he's most proud of," he said, "think about Badlands and Apocalypse Now, all the big films associated with him, this is his favorite film."

"That's a lot coming from him," Emilio said.

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