Troubled actor Charlie Sheen, who controversially promoted conspiracy theories around the September 11 attacks, has been strongly criticised for his lead role in the upcoming action drama 9/11.
The film is based around five people trapped in an elevator at the World Trade Centre on that ill-fated day in 2001, in a race to escape before one of the towers collapses.
But according to public opinion, the real-life disaster film is nothing short of insensitive, with people calling it “beyond offensive” and “extremely tasteless”.
Sheen has previously stated he believes the US government was responsible for the twin towers’ collapse and that it created a conspiracy to cover it up.
The first trailer for the controversial picture, released on Saturday, gives viewers a glimpse of what to expect.
Watch the trailer below:
In a radio interview in 2006, Sheen said the 9/11 attacks were a “controlled demolition” and that “it just didn’t look like any commercial jetliner” he’d been on.
In 2009, Sheen wrote an article promoting the conspiracy, saying “the official 9/11 story is a fraud”.
He later said on The Jimmy Kimmel Live Show that he had a “lot of questions”, had conducted a “lot of research” and found the given facts “didn’t add up”.
Sheen also spoke at a conference of neoconservatives, called ‘9/11 and The Neo-Con Agenda’, who may lean towards 9/11 conspiracy theories, calling for people to “wake up and join us”, and saying he was speaking to “unleash the juggernaut of truth”.
“I think it goes without saying that it [the film] is a ‘silent’ message from Sheen by playing in that movie, to make us look into the evidence,” one Facebook user said.
The sensitive subject and casting of Sheen has made the film controversial for many Americans, who have slammed the movie.
“Dear Lord, the Charlie Sheen 9/11 trailer is beyond offensive. It looks like a very poorly made TV movie. Just horrific,” one Twitter user said.
“This Charlie Sheen 9/11 movie trailer is extremely tasteless and incredibly unnecessary,” another said.
“I watched a trailer for a movie called ‘9/11’ starring Charlie Sheen and it’s awful and manipulative and makes me mad at everyone involved,” one comment read.
making a 9/11 movie in 2017 is already bad enough but casting charlie sheen and whoopi goldberg is like asking to be laughed at
— ボブ (@weeabob) July 23, 2017
Seriously, who thought Charlie Sheen in a movie about 9/11 was a good idea?
— BA Thompsonator 🇺🇸 (@ActionRation) July 21, 2017
Social media users also noted the choice of Sheen as the film’s protagonist was a peculiar one, given the former Two and A Half Men star’s long-time stance as a “9/11 truther”.
But not everyone was outraged by the trailer.
“Sorry, but as someone who knew people who died that day, I don’t find it offensive,” one Facebook user said.
“Not only are movies about the events of 9/11 not offensive, they are necessary. There is a whole generation born after this happened, they never knew life prior to 9/11, and we owe it to those who lost their lives that day to never forget!” another wrote.
The film is based on the play Elevator, which used “fact-based” voicemails and witness accounts to create a fictional storyline.
The trailer shows Sheen and three other cast members plummeting down the elevator shaft as the lift’s cables break, after emotional attempts to escape.
Sheen is joined by Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg, who plays an elevator helpline operator, and Showgirls actress Gina Gershon as Sheen’s wife, among others who regularly appear in comedy roles.
The IMDb profile of the movie’s director Martin Guigui, who co-wrote the script, shows he has made seven feature films.
But the LA Times reported that box office databases only list one film as attracting any measurable ticket sales — Swing, a 2003 fantasy comedy about a nightclub frozen in time which took in $US2509.
The controversial 9/11 title opens three days before the 16th anniversary of the terror attacks on September 8.