The teenage star of the popular American sitcom Two And A Half Men was said to be “cool and calm” last night after he publicly trashed the programme in an online video and pleaded with his fans to “please stop watching” it.
As speculation swirled about Angus T Jones's future in the show, the interviewer who spoke to the 19-year-old actor for the video, published by a Christian religious group, the Forerunner Chronicles, said he was "doing very well".
"Jake from Two And A Half Men means nothing," Jones said in the video, referring to his character in the programme. "He is a non-existent character. If you watch Two And A Half Men, please stop watching Two And A Half Men. I'm on Two And A Half Men and I don't want to be on it."
The tirade presents a fresh headache for the show's producers. Two years ago, they were forced to dispense with the services of its biggest star, Charlie Sheen, after he went through a very public meltdown, including rants about his drug use and against the show's producer, Chuck Lorre. Having killed off Sheen's character, also named Charlie, and drafted in Ashton Kutcher to play a new protagonist, the programme-makers must now deal with Jones.
In the video, the Texas-born actor said he had been baptised into the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, described Two And A Half Men as "filth" and said it conflicted with his religious views.
"Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth," added Jones, who is said to be paid about $350,000 per episode for his labours. He has appeared in the programme for nine years as Jake Harper, the son of uptight chiropractor Dr Alan Harper (played by Jon Cryer) and nephew of Charlie Harper (Sheen).
With viewing numbers declining – the average audience has dropped to 14.5 million per episode, against 20 million last year, according to the Associated Press – the controversy also threatens the sitcom, which has been running since 2003. Christopher Hudson, from the Christian group behind the video, which, reportedly, is linked to Jones's Voice of Prophecy Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, said last night that Jones was "cool and calm" in the wake of the controversy.
"I'm impressed that this young man has the ability to deal with this situation in a responsible way," he told ABCNews.com. "This young man is a noble young man. Because he is not just professing Christ with his words and saying that he's a Christian, but he's showing the proof."
In an apparent reference to the Devil, Jones says in the video: "I don't want to be contributing to the enemy's plan … You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't. I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says and being on that television show."
It is unclear what lies in store for the young star. According to various reports last night, he is not scheduled to appear in the next two episodes of the programme. The schedule pre-dates his comments.
Warner Brother, which produces Two And A Half Men, and CBS, which airs the show on Thursday nights in the US, both declined to comment on Jones's assessment.