Sorkin Talks Drug Arrest, Denies Sheen Rift

ByABC News
August 6, 2001, 2:06 PM

August 2 -- Aaron Sorkin, creator of NBC's popular, Emmy-winning drama The West Wing, says his arrest last April for drug possession was "stupid," but that it has not created a rift between him and the show's star, Martin Sheen, as rumored.

Sorkin, 40, was arrested at the Burbank, Calif., airport on April 15 as he prepared to board a flight for Las Vegas, after airport employees found some unusual party favors in his bag: marijuana, rock cocaine, and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Sorkin laments to Talk magazine's September issue, "I'm really no longer going to be the guy who wrote A Few Good Men. I'm going to be the guy who got in drug trouble."

Sorkin also tells TV Guide that "it is simply, absolutely, completely not true" that Sheen threatened to quit after Sorkin's arrest. "Frankly, Martin was concerned that at my arraignment I pleaded not guilty, and he didn't understand that. He thought I was trying to skate something. Martin thought it was a sign of some kind of denial."

Sorkin later pleaded guilty to two felony charges and a misdemeanor and was sentenced to probation. He also must undergo random drug testing, which he says he assumes will continue for the duration of his two years of probation.

Sorkin says Sheen told him that "I was more important to him than the show, and that he would quit the show to help me. And somehow this was turned into a story that we were having a fistfight and that he had threatened to quit the show unless I went to Betty Ford."

The writer, who previously went through drug rehab at Hazelden Institute in Minnesota in 1995, says he's now a sporadic, not a chronic, drug user and likens his occasional marijuana usage to having a martini at the end of a long day, but only after his work is done.

"There's no way I could be writing high and not have people know," he tells Talk of his work on The West Wing, which won nine Emmys last year and was nominated for 18 more this year.

Sorkin, now working on the show's new season, separated from his wife after his arrest but says that their relationship is very friendly and that they see each other daily.