As President Bartlett, he inspired a nation to seek out the best in themselves. And, next month, Martin Sheen hopes to do the same for British schoolchildren.
Golden Globe-winning actor Sheen, best known for his presidency in The West Wing as well as for his starring role in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, will address thousands of pupils and teachers at the second annual We Day UK next month.
On 5 March, 12,000 pupils and teachers will gather at the SSE Arena in Wembley to hear a variety of celebrities and activists talk about their passion for social change.
“This generation’s conviction to speak out about issues that they are passionate about will create a chain reaction, generating positive change around the world,” Sheen said.
Sheen has a history of social activism, and has been arrested on a number of occasions. He was described by We Day co-founder Craig Kielburger as having “a rap sheet almost as long as his list of film credits".
Other speakers at the We Day event will include Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin business empire, Kweku Mandela, social advocate and grandson of Nelson, and South Sudanese musician and former child soldier, Emmanuel Jal. There will also be performances from Dutch rapper, Mr Probz, and teenage singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes.
The aim of We Day is to celebrate schools’ social consciences. The event is free to attend, but pupils and teachers must earn their places by committing to take action on behalf of one local and one global cause this year.
We Day was launched in the UK last year, with speakers including Pakistani activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, environmental campaigner and former US vice-president Al Gore, and Prince Harry.
“Today’s generation of young people have the power to create and lead real systematic change,” said Mr Kielburger who, together with his brother, set up the charity behind We Day when he was 12 years old. “They are truly moving the needle on some of today’s most important issues.”
The event will be complemented by similar student gatherings in 14 city stadiums across the US.
Find out more about We Day UK here.
Britain's first We Day ready for lift off – 6 March 2014
Malala announces a day of silence, to raise awareness of children's rights – 7 March 2014
Ellie Goulding, Malala Yousafzai and Al Gore to headline youth empowerment day – 22 January 2014