NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are follows celebrities who explore genealogy to connect with their past and discover a heritage, new relatives and family stories. The journey not only strengthens them but exposes a better understanding of who they are today. One of Season 3’s entertainment icon is actor Martin Sheen, multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner, one of America’s most celebrated, colorful, and accomplished actors. The WhatItDo caught up with Sheen who shares his experience in learning about his family history ties to Ireland and Spain.
TWID: How does learning about your genealogy strengthen you today as a person?
Martin Sheen: Well reflecting on so many important aspects of my families in Ireland and Spain made me appreciate what they brought us to. Both of my parents lived in a time of civil war in both their countries. In Ireland from 1921-’23 and in Spain from 1936-’39. They were away from their countries. They never visited each other’s countries so they didn’t know any of their in-laws or relatives on either side. Their life was really forged in America but both cultures were of equal measure for us growing up particularly with our being raised with a Catholic education and encouraged in the Catholic faith to live honest lives.
We came from a very large family and were strengthened with a work ethic. My father worked in a factory for 47 years. My mother died when we were all very young. I was almost 11 at the time and he carried on and infused in us this great sense of responsibility which I found to be very old world in both cultures Spain and Ireland. And so they were a great source of inspiration to me. Learning about them firsthand up close and personal if you will, made me extremely proud of where my parents came from, what they stood for, who they were, and as a result I am understanding a whole lot more about how they nourished all of us and how much they had to do with my choices in life.
With star roles in Apocalypse Now to playing the President of the United States in a hit TV series, “The West Wing”, shows how Sheen’s bloodline has influenced his work. This season is full of excitement and surprises as these superstars discover who they are and that’s WhatItDo!
For more information on NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, you can visit their official website.
Article Written By: Elizabeth Lavulo
*Article Photo Courtesy of Peter Morrision/NBC