Jon Cryer has been through all the highs and lows that have been the journey of “Two and a Half Men.” There have been the years when it dominated the ratings and he won Emmys. There have been the years when it dominated the tabloid headlines with the public departure of original cast member Charlie Sheen.
The long and winding TV trek is coming to an end when the finale of the CBS comedy airs Thursday, Feb. 19.
Although there have been suggestions that Cryer’s character — the penny pinching Alan Harper — could spinoff into his own series, that’s probably not going to happen. One of the worst ideas he heard was that Alan dies and haunts the Malibu beach house.
“It’s time for it to end,” Cryer says during an interview on the “Two and a Half Men” set. “I can not help but be filled with gratitude for having been able to explore the same guy for 12 years. For actors, that never happens.”
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It seems to happen in the Cryer family. His father, Donald David Cryer, was in a production of “Phantom of the Opera” for 19 years.
The difference was his dad played the same role every performance, while Cryer’s been able to take Alan through the comedic turbulence of being the dad to the “a Half” part of the title, date multiple women, lose a brother and marry a man (Ashton Kutcher).
Cryer has a deep gratitude for being able to play the character so long, but he’s ready to play another character.
That still doesn’t make it easy on Cryer to say good-bye. He’s been trying hard while taping the last episodes not to think of this being the end and just focus on enjoying working on the episodes.
“I am mostly going to miss the people. The crew is amazing, Working with Ashton has been a blast. The writers are fun people,” Cryer says. “That’s what I’m going to miss.”
The 247 episodes of “Two and a Half Men” makes it one of the longest-running primetime comedies. Only four shows — “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” “Ozzie and Harriet” and “King of the Hill” — have more seasons.
On eight of those seasons it was Cryer and Sheen; the past four are with Kutcher.
“It is so unusual to have been able to build such great chemistry with two different performers. Charlie and I had it from the very first audition. It was just that easy,” Cryer says. “When Ashton came in, it was about building something new.
“They didn’t want to do his character from ‘That ’70s Show.’ They wanted him to go someplace else so it was trying to find how my character could relate to that.”
When a show runs 12 years, a lot of changes happen. Cryer looks at reruns and sees how much Alan has changed over the years. There was the growing up and leaving of Angus T. Jones.
Marin Hinkle — who plays Cryer’s first wife, Judith — got to work with two TV husbands in Cryer and Ryan Stiles.
“They are both geniuses like no other,” Hinkle says. “I don’t think I’ve worked with anyone who is as funny as both of them. We all have a little bit of clown in them but the clown those two have in them — no one can touch.”
Hinkle has an easy yardstick to measure how long “Two and a Half Men” has been on the air. She had given birth to her son only days before shooting the first episode and now he’s almost a teen.
For all of the cast, facing the end is tough. But they understand it is a reality of television.
Holland Taylor, who plays Alan and Charlie’s mother, Evelyn Harper, says: “Twelve years is a long time, but it’s natural that it comes to an end. We were lucky to have a role this long.”
Cast and crew aren’t talking about what will happen in the finale, except that there will be guest stars. The big speculation in the episode called “Of Course He’s Dead — Part One and Part Two” is whether Sheen will make an appearance.
Cryer would love to see Sheen in the finale.
“He was a great friend for eight and a half years,” Cryer says. “I don’t know if he will be on the last show, but it wouldn’t be because the people here don’t love him.”
All “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre will say is that the finale will be something that will please everyone.
Even Nina Tassler, chairwoman of CBS Entertainment, won’t say if Sheen will be on the finale.
“I can promise you there will be a lot of surprises and, out of respect for Chuck — and actually this is a direct quote — he has promised to deliver what he’s calling a ‘mystery sandwich,’” Tassler says. “There you have it.”