"Two and a Half Men" Child Star Once Begged Viewers Not to Watch the Show
Angus T. Jones left the sitcom not long after calling it "filth."
Over nine years, Two and a Half Men viewers watched character Jake Harper grow from a baby-faced 10-year-old fresh from his parents' divorce to an underachieving, vice-indulging young man with a sordid love life of his own. The role made Angus T. Jones one of the highest-paid child actors on TV, earning an estimated $300,000 per episode by age 17, according to Insider. In 2013, the young performer gave it all up, however, when he left the show to pursue a higher calling. Read on to learn how his spiritual search and a viral video of him urging viewers not to watch the show where he spent his formative years led to the end of his acting career.
Jones became religious during his time on the show.
While Jake Harper's life devolved into a haze of marijuana, video games, and women, the actor behind the role sought a higher path. In an interview with the Seventh-day Adventist Hope Channel show Turning Point that took place in October 2012, Jones described his faith journey and reaching his own "turning point" as the teen questioned his life's direction in a conversation with a friend. "What if the way we are living our lives and the plan we have…is not what's supposed to happen, what if that's not the right choice?" he recalled asking. As he said it, Jones recalled, "I basically had the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit…it completely felt like I was being hugged inside out." He went on to share how soon he began visiting different churches each Sunday before being baptized the Friday before his high school graduation at a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pacoima, CA.
Before the Turning Point interview went live, two more videos on Jones's conversion titled "ANGUS JONES's Testimony (Pt.1)" and "ANGUS JONES's Testimony (Pt.2)" appeared on a YouTube channel belonging to the religious group The Forerunner Chronicles. They feature Jones being interviewed by pastor Christopher Hudson (the "Forerunner" himself, according to a profile from The Hollywood Reporter on his conservative stances on everything from the fashion industry to Jay-Z). The pair discuss the actor's life—including a detour through experimenting with weed, acid, and "living for [himself]"—and subsequent religious journey.
Jones urged people to "please stop" watching his sitcom.
It's about seven-and-a-half minutes into the videoed conversation when it goes in an unexpected direction. Jones begins expounding on the evils of modern entertainment, including his own show. Shockingly, the star passionately urges viewers to avoid the comedy. "I'm on Two and a Half Men and I don't want to be on it," he said, turning to the camera to plead, "Please stop watching it." He also says his character means "nothing" and suggests audiences stop filling their heads with "filth." He continues, "People say it's just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain." By that point, Jones was co-starring with Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher after former lead Charlie Sheen was fired.
Unsurprisingly, the video caused an uproar as it made rounds on social media in the hours after its posting. Jones issued an apology the next day, stating, per Deadline, "Without qualification, I am grateful to and have the highest regard and respect for all of the wonderful people on Two and Half Men with whom I have worked over the past 10 years and who have become an extension of my family." Meanwhile, his mother Carey Jones expressed worry after the video aired, telling The Daily Mail, "I'm concerned he's being exploited by the church."
As for the other man in the video? The Seventh-day Adventist Church quickly realized the need to "develop a public relations strategy for its official media" in response to the flurry, per the affiliated publication Spectrum. The religious group released a statement welcoming Jones to the fold but also stating, "Forerunner Chronicles is not a ministry operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its host is not a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church."
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Jake Harper subsequently enlisted.
Jones cast doubt about his future on the show in the Forerunner video, stating, "You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't." True to his word, the child star gave up his role and left Two and a Half Men at the end of Season 10. In an interview with Houston CBS affiliate KHOU11 after the video was released, he said he felt like "a paid hypocrite" for working on something he knew was "making light of topics in the world that are problems for a lot of people." At the same time, he expressed regret about having insulted creator Chuck Lorre's "baby."
Onscreen, Jake's absence was easily explained when he joined the Army and was stationed in Japan, with Amber Tamblyn popping in for Seasons 11 and 12 to play Charlie Harper's (Sheen) previously unseen illegitimate daughter. Jones returned to the show only for its finale in 2015. In the years between, the former actor enrolled in college for a year at the University of Colorado-Boulder, pursuing environmental studies before switching majors to Jewish Studies.
He considered a return to acting.
After his freshman year, Jones took a break from his studies—and continued his search for a spiritual home. "Over the last three years I've been involved with various faith-based organizations," he told People in a 2016 interview. "Right now, I'm stepping away from the organizational business-model programs. I'm interested in seeing where I go without an organization putting a stamp of approval on if I'm good or bad or whatever."
He also expressed some interest in returning to acting after filming the Two and a Half Men finale. "Getting to be back on the set with everyone again kind of showed me how much I did like it and how much a part of me acting," he said in the interview. Since then he has racked up just one credit, an episode of Louis C.K.'s 2016 web miniseries Horace and Pete.