Michael Sheen

Michael Sheen
Michael Sheen
A bearded man wearing a suit is pictured smiling behind a microphone.
Sheen at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con
Born Michael Christopher Sheen
5 February 1969 (1969-02-05) (age 42)
Newport, Wales
Occupation Actor
Years active 1991 – present
Partner Kate Beckinsale (1995–2003; 1 child)
Lorraine Stewart (2004–2010)
Rachel McAdams (2010–present)

Michael Christopher Sheen, OBE (born 5 February 1969), is a Welsh stage and screen actor. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and made his professional debut opposite Vanessa Redgrave in When She Danced at the Globe Theatre in 1991. He worked predominantly on stage in the nineties and has continued to make sporadic stage appearances since 2000. He has received four Olivier Award nominations for his performances in Amadeus (1998), Look Back in Anger (1999), Caligula (2003) and Frost/Nixon (2006). He is currently playing the title role in Hamlet at the Young Vic in London until 21 January 2012.

Since 2003, he has worked mainly on screen projects. He is well-known for his portrayals of public figures, having appeared as Kenneth Williams in Fantabulosa! (2006), as David Frost in Frost/Nixon (2008), as Brian Clough in The Damned United (2009) and as Tony Blair in The Deal (2003), The Queen (2006) and The Special Relationship (2010). Other notable screen credits include the Underworld films (2003, 2009), The Twilight Saga (2009, 2011), Tron: Legacy (2010), 30 Rock (2010) and Midnight in Paris (2011). He has been nominated for three BAFTA Awards and one Emmy Award.

He had an eight-year relationship with English actress Kate Beckinsale from 1995 until 2003. Their daughter, Lily Mo Sheen, was born in London, England in 1999. He lives in Los Angeles, California. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2009 New Year Honours list for his services to drama and was awarded the freedom of the borough of Neath Port Talbot, Wales in 2008 for his services in the field of acting and the dramatic arts. He is the president of TREAT Trust Wales, the Welsh ambassador of FILMCLUB and a patron of numerous charitable organizations, including Scene & Heard.


Early life

Sheen was born in Newport, Wales,[1] the son of Irene (née Thomas), a secretary, and Meyrick, a British Steel personnel manager.[2][3] He has one younger sister, Joanne.[3] When he was three, the family moved to Liverpool, England but settled in his parents' hometown of Baglan in Port Talbot, Wales five years later.[4][5] Port Talbot is also the hometown of actors Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins. Director Sam Mendes has described Sheen as "a stage creature clearly" and attributed that to the actor's Welsh roots. "I'm serious. He's Welsh in the tradition of Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton: fiery, mercurial, unpredictable."[6]

A keen footballer, Sheen was scouted and offered a place on Arsenal F.C.'s youth team at the age of twelve but his family were unwilling to relocate to London.[5] He later said he was "grateful" for his parents' decision as the chances of forging a professional football career were "so slim". "It would have meant moving from Wales to London as a family. It was just too big an upheaval."[7] "My career would have been over years ago now", he noted.[8] He lost interest in playing football in his early teens.[5]

Sheen was raised in a theatrical family – his parents were both involved in local amateur operatics and musicals[9] and, later in life, his father worked as a part-time professional Jack Nicholson look-alike.[10] In his teenage years, Sheen was involved with the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre and, later, the National Youth Theatre of Wales.[9][11] "It was a brilliant youth theatre, and it taught me not only a lot about acting, but also about work ethic; it was very disciplined. I took that completely for granted until I got to London and drama school, and realised some people had never even acted before."[12] He was influenced by the performances of Laurence Olivier and the writings of theatre critic Kenneth Tynan – "the combination of those two things kind of blew my head off."[13][14]

Sheen was educated at Blaenbaglan Primary School, Glan Afan Comprehensive School and, finally, Neath Port Talbot College where he sat A-levels in English, Drama and Sociology.[3] He considered studying English at university but instead decided to attend drama school.[9] He moved to London, England in 1988 to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA),[9] having spent the previous year working in a Welsh fast food restaurant called Burger Master to earn money.[3] Sheen was granted the Laurence Olivier Bursary by The Society of London Theatre in his second year at RADA[15][16] and he graduated in 1991 with a BA in Acting.[3]

Stage career

Early performances

Sheen has remarked that he will always feel "slightly more at home" on stage than on screen.[17] His first professional role, while still in his third and final year at RADA, was in When She Danced at the Globe Theatre in 1991.[18] He later described the role as "a big break. One day I was at RADA doing a movement class, the next I was at a read-through with Vanessa Redgrave and Frances de la Tour."[19] He received positive notices, with Milton Shulman of the Evening Standard describing him as "excellent"[20] and The Observer writing of "a notable West End debut".[21] In 1992, his performance in Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Exchange received a MEN Theatre Award nomination[22] and led theatre critic Michael Coveney to declare him "the most exciting young actor of his generation ... a volatile, electrifying and technically fearless performer".[23][10] His 1993 turn as Perdican in Don’t Fool With Love at the Donmar Warehouse was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award[24] and was described by The Independent as "quite thrilling".[25] Also in 1993, he appeared in the world premiere of Harold Pinter's Moonlight at the Almeida Theatre.[26]

Sheen played the title role in Peer Gynt in 1994. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, was staged in Oslo, Tokyo and at the Barbican Centre, London. The Times praised Sheen's "astonishing vitality"[27] while The Independent found him "sensationally good" and noted that "the Norwegian press were grudgingly captivated by the mercurial Welsh boyo".[28] In 1995, he appeared opposite Kate Beckinsale in a production of The Seagull at Theatre Royal, Bath[29] and, with the encouragement of Thelma Holt,[30] directed and starred in The Dresser at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. 1996 saw him at the National Theatre for The Ends Of The Earth, an original play by David Lan.[31]

Sheen's most significant appearance of 1997 was the title role in Henry V, staged by the RSC, which earned him a second Ian Charleson Award nomination.[32] The Times praised "a blisteringly intelligent performance".[33] Also in 1997, he appeared in a revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming at the National Theatre, directed by Roger Michell, and received favourable reviews as director of Badfinger, starring Rhys Ifans, at the Donmar Warehouse.[34][35][36] The latter was staged by the Thin Language Theatre Company, which Sheen had co-founded in 1991, aiming to promote Welsh theatre.[30][37] In early 1998, he formed a production company, The Foundry, with Helen McCrory and Robert Delamere to promote the work of emerging playwrights.[37] He then produced A Little World of Our Own at the Donmar Warehouse, in which Colin Farrell made his West End debut.[38]

Olivier-nominated roles

Sheen received rave reviews for his performance as Mozart in a revival of Amadeus in 1998 and 1999.[39] The Peter Hall-directed production was staged at the Old Vic, London and later transferred to the Music Box on Broadway. Ben Brantley, chief theatre critic for The New York Times, was particularly vocal in his praise. He noted that "Mr. Sheen elicits a real poetry from the role" and felt that, while watching him, "you start to appreciate the derivation of the term star. This actor is so luminous it's scary!".[40] The Independent found him "quite stunning as Mozart. His fantastically physical performance convinces you of his character's genius and the play catches fire whenever he's on stage."[41] Benedict Nightingale admired "a moving portrait" which "only a most talented young actor could create."[42] He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor.[24][43][44]

In 1999, Sheen revisited the role of Jimmy Porter (which he first played in 1994) in the National Theatre's production of Look Back in Anger. In 2003, Sheen described the production as "the most enjoyable thing I've ever done ... everything came together".[45] The Daily Mail declared him a "definitive Jimmy Porter... simply exhilarating in his great jazz riffs of speeches, mercurial and irresistible."[46] "Sheen has cornered the market in explosive energy", said The Independent, "but this thrilling performance is his finest yet."[47] The Financial Times noted: "As Jimmy Porter, a role of staggering difficulty in every way, Michael Sheen gives surely the best performance London has yet seen from him ... You hang on every word he utters ... This is a dazzlingly through-the-body performance."[48] He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and a Evening Standard Award for Best Actor.[49]

Sheen starred in just three plays during the 2000s; his young daughter was now based in Los Angeles, California which made more frequent stage runs in Britain impractical.[50] In 2003, he played the title role in Caligula at the Donmar Warehouse, directed by Michael Grandage. Critics were effusive in their praise for his performance.[51][52] The Independent's critic declared it "one of the most thrilling and searching performances I have ever witnessed"[53] while The Daily Telegraph described him as an "outrageously charismatic actor" with "an astonishing physical presence".[54] He won an Evening Standard Award for Best Actor and a Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actor, and was again nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor.[55][56] In 2005, he appeared in the National Theatre's production of The UN Inspector, a David Farr adaptation of The Government Inspector. The Times wrote of "a scathingly brilliant and inventive performance"[57] while Variety noted that the actor "adds comic finesse to his apparently ceaseless repertoire".[58] The Evening Standard, while conceding that the performance was "technically brilliant", expressed bemusement as to why "one of the most mercurial and inspiring actors we have seems set on impersonating Rik Mayall throughout".[59] Also that year, he took part in the Old Vic's 24 Hour Play, in which The Telegraph felt he "dazzled".[60][61]

In 2006 and 2007, Sheen played David Frost in Frost/Nixon at both the Donmar Warehouse and Gielgud Theatre in London and at the Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. The play, written by Peter Morgan, directed by Michael Grandage and co-starring Frank Langella, was a critical and commercial success.[62] The Guardian said the actor "exactly captures Frost's verbal tics and mannerisms while suggesting a nervousness behind the self-assurance".[63] "He’s got the voice, the mannerisms, the blaze," said the Financial Times, "but, more than that, Sheen – as viscerally exciting an actor as any in Britain today – shows us the hunger of Frost’s ambition .. and fox-like instinct for the hunt and the kill."[64] He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance.[65][66]

The Passion and Hamlet

In 2011, Sheen starred in and was creative director of National Theatre Wales's The Passion, a 72-hour secular passion play staged in his hometown of Port Talbot, Wales.[67] In addition to a professional cast, over one thousand local amateurs took part in the performance and as many more volunteers from local charity and community groups were involved in preparations in the months leading up to the play. The event was the subject of a BBC documentary and was also filmed by director Dave McKean for a separate, upcoming release.[68] Sheen has described it as "the most meaningful experience" of his career.[69] The Observer declared it "one of the outstanding theatrical events not only of this year, but of the decade".[70] The Independent's critic described it as "the most extraordinary piece of community-specific theatre I've ever beheld".[71] While the The Daily Telegraph bemoaned the large-scale production's logistical problems, "overall I found it touching, transformative and, in its own wayward way, a triumph."[72] The Times also noted logistical problems and felt that "Sheen did too little with his character" but "where the production succeeded was in energising so many hundreds of townspeople to work for a common purpose ... it truly was something remarkable."[73] The Guardian felt it was "so much more than just an epic piece of street theatre..transforming and uplifting".[74] Sheen and co-director Bill Mitchell were honoured as Best Directors at the Theatre Awards UK 2011.[75]

Sheen is currently playing the title role in Hamlet at the Young Vic,[76] a role he first explored in a 1999 BBC Radio 3 production.[77] While there had been tentative plans over the years for both Peter Hall and Michael Grandage to direct Sheen in the play,[78][79][80] he eventually asked Ian Rickson after they worked together on Betrayal in 2009, as part of a Harold Pinter tribute evening at the National Theatre.[81] The Evening Standard declared his performance "an audacious achievement" that "will live in the memory"[82] while The Independent praised "a recklessly brilliant and bravura performance."[83] The Telegraph felt that Sheen "could be right up there among the great Hamlets."[84] The Times found him "unbearably moving"[85] while the Financial Times declared it "an immensely moving performance".[86] The Guardian found him "fascinating to watch ... intelligent, inventive and full of insights; the dismissive lines over Polonius's corpse are here imbued with the profound regret of a man who is aware he has severed ties with the analyst on whom he depended. Sheen also delivers the "What a piece of work is man" passage with a beautiful consciousness of human potential."[87] The Observer described him as an actor "always worth crossing a principality to see and hear" whose ""To be or not to be" is a marvel."[88]

Screen career

Early roles

Sheen made his television debut in the 1993 BBC mini-series, Gallowglass,[89] and his film debut in 1995's Othello, appearing opposite Kenneth Brannagh.[90] A minor role in 1996's Mary Reilly marked the first of three collaborations with director Stephen Frears.[91] In 1997, he appeared in Wilde, playing Robbie Ross to Stephen Fry's Oscar Wilde.[92] Heartlands, a little-seen 2002 film about a naive man's road trip in the Midlands, was his first leading film role. While The Guardian dismissed the "cloying bittersweet-regional-lottery-Britfilm", it noted that "Sheen himself has a childlike, Frank Spencer-ish charm".[93] "It was great to do something that was so different", Sheen has said of the role. "I usually play very extreme characters but I couldn't get away with doing all my usual silly tricks with Colin."[94] Also in 2002, he had a minor role in The Four Feathers.[95]

In 2003, Sheen appeared in Bright Young Things, the directorial debut of his Wilde co-star, Stephen Fry. An adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel, the film followed high society partygoers in decadent, pre-war London. Sheen played a gay aristocrat in an ensemble cast which included James McAvoy, Emily Mortimer, David Tennant, Dan Ackroyd, Jim Broadbent and Peter O'Toole. While the Los Angeles Times said he "shone",[96] The Guardian felt the role "drastically under-uses his talents".[97] Sheen described his character as "possibly the campest man in cinema history" and relished a scene "where I do drugs with [a then 95-year-old] Sir John Mills. He said, 'marvellous – my first cocaine film!'"[98] Also that year, he appeared as a werewolf named Lucian in Underworld[99] and made a brief appearance in Timeline.[100]

Sheen's breakthrough role in the United Kingdom was as Tony Blair in 2003's The Deal. The Channel 4 film explored the so-called Granita pact made by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown prior to the 1994 Labour Party leadership election, and was the actor's first collaboration with screenwriter Peter Morgan. Director Stephen Frears cast him because "he was in Mary Reilly and I knew he was brilliant."[101] Filmed while he was playing Caligula nightly on stage, Sheen has remarked, "It’s interesting that in searching for monsters to play, you often end up playing leaders."[102] The Daily Telegraph praised his "earnest, yet steely, portrayal"[103] while The Guardian found him "excellent. This is intelligent and honest casting."[104]

In 2004, Sheen starred in ITV's Dirty Filthy Love, a comic film about a man dealing with OCD and Tourette's after a marital separation. Sheen spoke of "treading a fine line" because "a lot of the symptoms are intrinsically comical".[55] His performance received favourable reviews[105][106] and was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Television Actor and a RTS Best Actor Award.[107][108] Also in 2004, he played a pompous rock star in Laws of Attraction[109] and produced and starred in The Banker, which won a BAFTA Award for Best Short Film.[110][111] In 2005, he starred in Dead Long Enough, a small-budget Welsh/Irish film, with his longtime friend, Jason Hughes.[112][113] In other 2005 film work, he had a supporting role in Kingdom of Heaven,[114] made a cameo appearance in The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse[115] and starred in a short film, The Open Doors.[116]

The Queen and Fantabulosa!

Sheen came to international attention in 2006 for his portrayal of Tony Blair in The Queen. The film focused on the differing reactions of the British Royal Family and the newly elected Prime Minister following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997; it was Sheen's third collaboration with director Stephen Frears and his second with screenwriter Peter Morgan. He enjoyed reprising his role because Blair, at this point in his career, had "a weight to him that he didn’t have before".[14] His performance was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.[117] His second film appearance of 2006 was a supporting role in Blood Diamond as an unscrupulous diamond dealer.[118]

Also in 2006, Sheen starred as troubled English comic actor, Kenneth Williams, in BBC4's Fantabulosa! In preparation for the role, he lost two and a half stone, studied archival footage and read Williams' published diaries, finding them unreliable: "There’s one famous instance where he says, “Went to see Frankie Howerd at the Establishment Club. He was very good but there was this awful woman who kept shouting things out. She almost marred the show.” Unbeknownst to Kenneth, that performance was recorded. I’ve heard the recording and it’s Kenneth Williams."[14] His performance was widely praised; The Times found it "mesmerising"[119] while The Observer described it as "a characterisation for which the description tour-de-force is, frankly, pretty faint praise".[120] He won a RTS Award for Best Actor,[121] and received his second BAFTA nomination of 2006, for Best Television Actor.[122] He starred in two other BBC television productions in 2006, playing H.G. Wells in HG Wells: War with the World[123] and Nero in Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.[124]

In 2007, Sheen appeared in Music Within as a political activist with cerebal palsy. He spoke of having a "responsibility" to accurately portray the condition.[125] The little-seen film received a muted critical reception but Sheen himself was praised. Variety said his performance was "remarkable.. utterly convincing",[126] USA Today found him "outstanding"[127] while the Los Angeles Times felt he was "reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, bringing a vibrancy and wit to the role".[128] Also that year, he starred in a short film, Airlock, or How To Say Goodbye in Space, with Sir Derek Jacobi[129] and was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.[130]

Frost/Nixon and The Damned United

In 2008, Sheen starred as television broadcaster David Frost in Frost/Nixon, a dramatisation of the The Nixon Interviews of 1977. Despite appearing in the original stage production in a part written for him by Peter Morgan, Sheen was surprised to have been cast in the film: "Peter said he'd only be prepared to give the rights to someone who would cast me as Frost, which was very nice, but when the studios get their hands on something... Right up until we started filming I was prepared to be disappointed".[131] The film was highly acclaimed. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times asserted that Sheen embodied his character in a "compelling, intense" performance[132] while The Wall Street Journal felt he was "a brilliant actor" who "grows his character from a bright-eyed social butterfly to a gimlet-eyed interrogator".[133] However, The New York Times felt "the likable, watchable Mr. Sheen has been pitted against a scene-stealer" in Frank Langella's Nixon.[134] Frost himself later said it was "a wonderful performance".[135] He was the recipient of the Variety Award at the British Independent Film Awards 2008.[136]

A smiling man, wearing a black suit and tie, holds an award
Sheen at the British Independent Film Awards in 2008

In 2009, Sheen appeared in The Damned United as outspoken football manager Brian Clough. The Tom Hooper-directed film focused on Clough's disastrous 44-day tenure as manager of Leeds United and marked Sheen's fifth collaboration with writer Peter Morgan. The actor has said Clough is the real-life character he enjoyed playing most.[137] The Guardian declared it the "best performance of his big-screen career" [138] while The Times found him "magnificent".[139] USA Today praised "Sheen's masterful performance"[140] while the Los Angeles Times felt he played the role with "a cheeky, dark panache" and "skillful verve".[141] Entertainment Weekly asserted that, despite American audiences' unfamiliarity with Clough, "what's lost in translation is recovered easily enough in Michael Sheen's astonishing performance".[142] Variety noted that his "typically scrupulous channeling of Clough gets the tics and mannerisms right, but also carves a moving portrait of a braggart suddenly out of his depth".[143]

Also in 2009, Sheen reprised his role as werewolf Lucian in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, a prequel to the original film. Of his decision to take part, Sheen has said: "My rule of thumb is that I want to do things I'd like to go and see myself. "[144] It was a commercial success and despite generally unenthusiastic reviews, Sheen's performance was praised. The New York Times felt he was "the movie’s greatest asset. There is, as it turns out, some benefit to having a real performance even in a formulaic entertainment like this", with the actor taking "a lively break from his usual high-crust duties to bring wit, actual acting and some unexpected musculature to the goth-horror flick".[145] USA Today found the film "surprisingly campy fun, mostly succeeding through the power of its lead performances".[146] Variety described him as "robustly dynamic", hitting "all the right notes in a star-powered performance that will amuse, if not amaze, anyone who only knows the actor as Tony Blair or David Frost"[147] while Richard Corliss of Time noted that he "tries bravely to keep a straight face"[148]

Sheen had a supporting role in 2009's vampire film The Twilight Saga: New Moon. He was paid a reported £5 million fee and director Chris Weitz has said he "aggressively" pursued the actor for the role.[149] In his review of the film, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said: "Late in the film, a real actor, Michael Sheen, shows up as the mind-reading Aro, of the Italian Volturi vampires, and sparks things up. You can almost hear the young cast thinking, "Is that acting? It looks hard." So Sheen is quickly ushered out."[150] While The New York Times said he "preens with plausible menace",[151] USA Today felt he "plays the character with more high-pitched giddiness than menace".[152] He was named Actor of the Year at GQ Magazine's annual Men of the Year ceremony.[153]

2010 onwards

In 2010, Sheen had a supporting role in sci-fi sequel Tron: Legacy. Referring to his David Bowie-esque character, Sheen has said, "I was paid to show off basically".[154] The Wall Street Journal found little fun in the movie "except for a gleefully campy turn by Michael Sheen"[155] while The New York Times said he "shows up to deliver the closest thing to a performance in the movie".[156] The Daily Telegraph felt his "lively hamming as a cane-swishing nightclub owner merely underlines how impersonal – how inhuman – much else here is".[157] However, USA Today felt his "scenery-chewing performance ... is meant as comic relief, but this movie thunders along so seriously that the attempt at humor feels jarring".[158] In other 2010 film work, he provided the voices for characters in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland[159] and Disney's Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue[160] and appeared as a terrorist in Unthinkable.[161]

On television, Sheen's performance in the third installment of Peter Morgan's Blair trilogy, The Special Relationship, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor – Miniseries or Movie. The HBO film examined the "special relationship" between the US and the UK – a phrase first used in 1946 by Sir Winston Churchill to describe the close political relations between the two nations. It was the sixth collaboration between Sheen and Peter Morgan; both parties have since said they will not work together again "for the foreseeable future".[19][162] He also made a guest appearance in four episodes of NBC's 30 Rock as Wesley Snipes, a love interest for Tina Fey's Liz Lemon. Fey has said that "he was so funny and delightful to work with".[163] "Whenever we want to wrap things up forever, which hopefully will not be next season, I definitely have a plan to bring him back."[164] In November 2010, Sheen received the BAFTA Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year.[165]

In 2011, Sheen had a supporting role in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.[166] Allen noted that "Michael had to do the pseudo-intellectual, the genuine intellectual, the pedant, and he came in and nailed it from the start".[167] Sheen has said: "Unfortunately, I didn’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of myself to find my inner know-it-all and release it for the film. It was great to be able to play someone who’s just absolutely got no sense that he’s overstepping the mark or that he’s being a bore."[168] The film opened the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and has become Woody Allen's highest-ever grossing film.[169] Also in 2011, he starred in Beautiful Boy, an independent drama focusing on the aftermath of a school shooting,[170], voiced a character in a Doctor Who episode written by his friend Neil Gaiman[171] and made cameo appearances in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1[172] and Resistance.[173]

Sheen has two projects awaiting release; a supporting role in an as-yet-untitled Terence Malick film project[174][175] and an appearance in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

Radio and audiobook career

Sheen has appeared in many radio productions, particularly in the early years of his career. Notable radio play appearances include Strangers on a Train (1994) opposite Bill Nighy,[176] The Importance of Being Earnest (1995) opposite Judi Dench,[177] Romeo and Juliet (1997) opposite Kate Beckinsale,[178] Troy (1998) opposite Paul Scofield[179] and The Pretenders (2004) opposite, again, Paul Scofield.[180]

Sheen has narrated five novels for BBC Radio 4 and Naxos AudioBooks: Crime and Punishment (1994),[181] The Idiot (1995),[182] The Picture of Dorian Grey (1995),[183] A White Merc With Fins (1997)[184] and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2007).[185] In 2010, he presented a series of documentaries on Hamlet,[186] Kenneth Tynan,[187] Richard Burton,[188] and David Frost[189] for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 2.

In the media

In 2010, Sheen was the subject of an improvised scene in Michael Winterbottom's The Trip.[190] Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon played semi-autobiographical characters who discussed the merits of Sheen's career. Coogan bemoaned losing roles to the actor: “I’ve got an albatross around my neck and it’s got the face of Michael Sheen.” Coogan has since said that while there was "a part" of him that was envious, "I love Michael Sheen. He’s a lovely man and a wonderful actor."[191] Brydon has said that he and Sheen "grew up within a mile of each other in Baglan, South Wales. He is not only a brilliant actor, but also a wonderful storyteller."[192]

Public life

Sheen was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2009 New Year Honours list for his services to drama.[193] He was awarded the freedom of the borough of Neath Port Talbot, Wales in 2008 for his services in the field of acting and the dramatic arts.[194] He is an Honourary Fellow of the University of Wales, Newport,[195] the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama[196] and Swansea Metropolitan University,[197] and has been awarded the James Joyce Award by University College Dublin.[198]

Sheen is the president of TREAT Trust Wales, a charity which aims to provide a rehabilitation and therapy centre in the grounds of Swansea’s Morriston Hospital by 2015,[199] and is the Welsh ambassador of FILMCLUB, a charity which offers after-school film clubs to state primary and secondary schools in an effort to improve literacy levels.[200] He is a patron of charities including Scene & Heard,[201] NSPCC's Child's Voice Appeal,[202] Healing The Wounds[203], The Relationships Centre[204] and WGCADA[205], and has taken part in a number of charity football matches, most notably captaining the winning Soccer Aid 2010 team at Wembley Stadium.[206] He is also a patron of the British Independent Film Awards,[207] an ambassador for the Dylan Thomas Prize[208] and vice-president of Port Talbot Town FC.[209]

Personal life

Sheen had an eight-year relationship with English actress Kate Beckinsale from 1995 until 2003. They met when cast in a touring production of The Seagull in early 1995[29] and moved in together shortly afterwards.[210] She has said it was "love at first sight"[211] and that he saved her from "a hospital for the criminally insane".[212] In 1997, they appeared in a radio production of Romeo and Juliet.[178] Their daughter, Lily Mo Sheen, was born on 31 January 1999 in London, England.[29] The actress has said she was "embarassed" that Sheen never proposed[213][214] but remarked, "If you keep a library book out long enough, you feel it's yours."[215] Their relationship ended in early 2003, after the filming of Underworld.[216] Beckinsale had persuaded director Len Wiseman to cast Sheen in the film[217] but, while on set, she and Wiseman (who was married) fell in love.[4] She relocated to Los Angeles, California and married Wiseman in 2004.[5]

Sheen also moved from London to Los Angeles following the split in order to live close to his daughter. "I like LA", he has remarked. "It's grown on me and it's my home for now, but I wouldn't choose to live in LA if it wasn't for my daughter... Once Lily's older and able to move around, I'll probably return to the UK."[218] He remains friends with Beckinsale, who has said: "I think we both felt that it was really important for Lily, our daughter, to have everybody coming from the same place. He loves her and I love her and Len loves her. Everyone’s nice. The guys both get along."[219] "We were very lucky in that we didn't have an acrimonious split. We are still very close and she sees us around each other."[220] "I love him dearly – I would miss him dreadfully if he wasn't in my life."[221]

Sheen had a long-distance relationship with English ballet dancer Lorraine Stewart from late 2004 until mid-2010.[222] He is currently in a relationship with Canadian actress Rachel McAdams. They met on the set of Midnight in Paris in July 2010[223] and have since worked together on an as-yet-untitled Terence Malick film.

Sheen does not ascribe to any religion, having asked his parents at the age of seven if he could stop attending church.[224] He has said that he usually votes for the Labour Party[98] and has criticised the Conservative Party's Big Society initiative as "a totally cosmetic bit of PR". "Rather than trying to encourage people to do more voluntary work, I would say look at the people who are doing the work already and give them more support."[69]

List of performances


  1. ^ "BBC Wales profile". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/arts/sites/michael-sheen/pages/biography.shtml. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Nigel Dempster (18 July 2001). "He's all right, Jack". The Daily Mail. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-76608070.html. Retrieved 18 September 2011. 
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