Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen, star of TV's "The West Wing" and "Apocalypse Now," has been retracing his family roots whilst making two films, a Spanish one and an Irish one, back to back.

The irony isn't lost on the actor who's parents, one Spanish and one Irish, were hard working immigrants who met at a 'citizenship school' in Dayton, Ohio, where he was born in 1940, as one of 10 children.

"I've always felt the balance between the two cultures, I've never felt more Spanish than I did Irish and I've never felt more Irish than I did Spanish," he told the press this week. I love both countries, and both cultures had a profound effect on me."

Sheen was born Ramon Estevez but he took on the Anglicized stage name to get work as an actor, he told the press. "My father was my hero, he was the most influential person in my life growing up."

Francisco Estevez first came to the States when he was 16 in 1914, but he was unable to enter because there was a quota on Spaniards because of the Spanish-American war.

"He went with his brother to Havana for almost three years and came back into the United States through Miami as a Cubano. He had a very interesting journey," added Sheen.

Sheen's mother, Mary Ann Phelan emigrated to the United States during the Irish war of Independence.

Sheen is currently in Spain where he's finishing work on his latest film, "The Way," where he plays an American widower who travels to Spain to recover the body of his estranged son. After that Sheen will travel to Ireland to star in "Stella Days", the true story of a priest who opens a cinema in the rural Irish town of Borrisokane in the 1950's.