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‘Men’ teamwork spans decades

Worthy of attention: Jon Cryer

Best part about working in TV? “Occasionally I get free dry-cleaning. You give them the signed picture with the autograph. It goes up on the wall and you get a freebie.”

Hardest part about working in TV? “Ratings pressure is scary because you have no control over it, yet you live or die by it. I think that everybody (in the industry) is held responsible for certain things that they ultimately have no control over and that is why everybody in the industry is insane in their own cute, little way. You feel kind of hostage to it but at the same time you get it.”

Favorite scene? “I got to do a show with Jeri Ryan and she is just stunning. It was fun to see Alan sort of grow because he actually manages to be fairly charming in his sort of courtship with her. Of course he blows it in the end, but just having that one brief shining moment was all that I needed.”

TiVo season passes? “Battlestar Galactica,” “NCIS,” “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “Penn & Teller Bullshit,” “Law & Order,” “Arrested Development” and “Scrubs”

Jon Cryer just can’t seem to escape the ’80s.

After making a series of films alongside several Brat Packers such as Demi Moore and Molly Ringwald, Cryer stars as Alan Harper opposite one of that decade’s biggest stars, Charlie Sheen, on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.”

The pairing has turned into ratings gold for the Eye. The sitcom will move up a half-hour into rarified territory this fall: the 9 p.m. Monday slot previously occupied by departing megahit “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

“The first time we read together we kind of already had a shorthand of how we were going to deal with each other,” says Cryer of working with Sheen. “Charlie didn’t give me a note. He didn’t ask me to change a thing — and that’s rare.

“I think people have a lot of affection for Charlie and perhaps for me because we both have sort of a lot of ’80s film baggage. I think there is a certain familiarity that people seem to enjoy.”

Despite an immediate bond with Sheen, Cryer wasn’t initially confident the show’s co-creator and exec producer, Chuck Lorre, thought he was right for the role. “I think I had three auditions. First, I had to come in and read with Chuck. He and I did a pilot years ago and I was a huge fan, but he didn’t laugh and Chuck is known in the industry as an incredibly generous laugher.”

Although he had won Lorre’s approval, Cryer had to persuade the studio and network heads to hire him. “It’s a tiered process,” Cryer explains. “It was actually the first time I had gone into a network audition with any real sense of confidence. Normally you go in there and it’s just a terrifying experience because you have got these network executives who have seen the scene a thousand times and are tired of it.”

Cryer considers himself lucky to have not only found a co-star that he has chemistry with, but also a character he can relate to. “What I liked about Alan after reading the script was that I thought playing him would be a nice way to channel my neurosis,” he says. “I am a pretty happy guy but if I channel my neurosis in a bad direction I can become Alan pretty quick.”

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