Jon Cryer’s So That Happened: A Memoir is the rare celebrity tell-all that is as insightful as it is entertaining. Cryer, star of Two and a Half Men, comes across as a levelheaded person in a crazy business. The author doesn’t spare us any salacious details, particularly about his time working with Charlie Sheen, but he balances his life story with moments of compassion and empathy. In essence, Cryer manages to merge a literary sensibility with a jocular tone.
Cryer grew up in a bohemian apartment house in New York, surrounded by artists of all stripes. He and his older sister were raised mostly by their mother, Gretchen Cryer, an actress and playwright. Cryer spent his high school summers at the famed musical theater camp in New York State, Stagedoor Manor. Though he considered himself a science geek, and attended the Bronx High School of Science, he opted to pursue a show business career after high school. Cryer’s big break came about due to his resemblance to Matthew Broderick, and he was Broderick’s understudy in Broadway productions of Torch Song Trilogy and Brighton Beach Memoirs. After finding success in a touring production of Torch Song Trilogy, a film career soon followed.
Cryer’s breakout role was 1986’s Pretty in Pink, a John Hughes teenage romance. Cryer portrayed “Duckie” Dale, who he describes as an “effeminate, heterosexual dork.” Cryer’s film career fizzled the following year, and he tried his hand at television. Cryer’s first three shows were cancelled, and he took time off to make small independent films and do theater in New York and London.
Cryer was eventually cast as Alan Harper in Two and a Half Men, which led to his career comeback. He won two Emmys, divorced, remarried and adopted a child during the show’s run. He lived through the nightmare of having his every move followed by paparazzi during Sheen’s colossal meltdown. He rediscovered his musical theater roots during a star-studded New York production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Ultimately, Two and a Half Men persevered with Alan Harper as the lead character before the show went off the air earlier this year. Jon Cryer’s memoir is the story of an entertainment industry survivor.