Martin Sheen shares how '12 Mighty Orphans' 'brought a community together'

The actor tells "The View" about his new movie inspired by the true story of an orphanage football team that gave a sense of hope to depression-era America.
7:53 | 06/17/21

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Transcript for Martin Sheen shares how '12 Mighty Orphans' 'brought a community together'
We're going to get to the new movie in a minute. Let's just talk about something so nice. You and your wife Janet are celebrating 60 years of marriage this year. That's great. You've said in the past you were fortunate enough to marry, quote, the scariest woman you ever met. Is that the secret to a happy marriage, marry someone who scares you? I think it is. If you want to lead an honest life and really become yourself, your honest self, you have to marry an honest partner. I was fortunate enough to have her pick me really. You know, it takes a while. You grow and you become partners and lovers on a totally different level as you mature. That's, I think, the most satisfying thing in a relationship. I'm very lucky. Her name is Janet. Yeah, we've been married -- December 23, 1961. We met a year earlier and decided to get married in new York City. Sunny? You remember that date. That's really key. Oh, yeah. There was a -- You know -- There was a snow storm that night. I was playing at the living theater. The show was canceled because the players out numbered the audience which is an equity rule. You don't have to play. That night we had 12 players and 3 in the audience. They canceled it. That night was a historic snow storm. It blanketed the city. Nothing moved. That was the night of the French connection. They found the drug deal. Let me ask you this, you're known for your acting as well as your activism. It's been said your rap sheet is almost as long as your film credits. You've been arrested about 70 times for protesting and acts of civil disobedience on a host of issues. John Lewis used to call that getting into good trouble. Why is it important for you to get in good trouble? Will there be more good trouble and arrests in your future? That all depends. It's not getting any easier to go to a demonstration. My colleague and one of my heros Jane fonda was out last week in Minnesota opposing the pipeline. She doesn't slow down. You showed a picture in Washington of the fire drill last season where I participated with some of the folks from "Grace and Frankie." Jane is still out there. She's just a little bit older than I am. I don't have any complaints. I look forward to standing up and saying what needs to be said in places where it doesn't often get heard. So, yeah. Mr. Sheen, fans are going to revolt if we don't ask you about your iconic role as president Jed Bartlett on "The west wing." The show wrapped in 2006, yet it's still so popular today, and many turned to comfort watching it during the trump administration. Why do you think the show has had so much staying power? Why is there so much reverence and nostalgia for "The west wing"? Well, I think the major credit goes to Aaron Sorkin who has his pulse on the national aged and nearly all of the stories -- we did 154 episodes. Nearly all of them were marinated in real stories. We had people from administrations going back to the Eisenhower days. They took real incidents and couched them in our show. It was a fictional president of course, but it had a parallel universe. We like to say that we were the administration that people would have preferred. You know, I think it resonates today of course. It's about a president who was concerned about human rights, who spoke very clearly to the opposition, but didn't diminish them in any way, had a great heart, you know, a family that he adored. He was a reflection of a couple presidents in my lifetime that were pretty good examples starting with John Kennedy and going to Jimmy Carter, of course, Bill Clinton. I think the character was pretty much a composite of those three guys. No coincidence they were all Democrats. Your new film "12 mighty orphans" is the feel good film we all need right now. It's based on the true story of a depression-era orphanage football team who beat the odds, and you say this film had a deeply personal appeal for you. Explain what you mean by that. Well, I play a guy who was the physician of the orphanage. It was a masonic home in fort Worth, Texas, during the depression. The fast we filmed it was Weatherford, Texas, in a home called the Texas pithion home. It's an ongoing orphanage. It's a magnificent structure in the film. They allowed us to film inside and outside. You'll see a close proximity to the era in the 1930s during the depression. The guy that I played had lost his wife during childbirth and he stayed at the orphanage the rest of his life and never took a salary. He considered the orphans his children. He was also a heavy drinker. He was an alcoholic. Aa had not reached Texas yet. It was invented in 1934. He had a problem. Throughout the film you get a sense of his coming to grips with it. Luke Wilson who is just magnificent playing this real character rusty Russell says to him that the best example we have to give our children, those that we are in charge of, is our own behavior. He got me to stop drinking, the character, Dr. Hall is his name. All the characters are based on real characters and the incident is a real incident. It's a great inspiration. A lot of the kids came from the area where we filmed. Many of them were not actors. They had never been on a movie set before. Many of them didn't know how to play football. They really brought a community together. That's thanks to Ty Roberts the director. Did I mention it's the Texas pithion home in Weatherford, Texas? I want to give a shout out to Matt Anderson and his family who looked out for us. Matt is a police officer. They made us feel at home. You know, very grateful to the people of Texas. We want to tell everybody -- thanks first to martin sheen. The new film is called "12 mighty orphans" where he also reunites with Robert Duvall. It opens in real theaters tomorrow.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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