Michael Sheen: New Man of a Thousand Faces

by Anne Thompson
August 28, 2009 6:32 AM
6 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Michael Sheen is as driven as the soccer coach he plays in The Damned United, his sixth collaboration with writer Peter Morgan. In demand for a range of roles, the Welsh-born stage actor has conquered London and Broadway, smart movies and genre franchises.

After starring as Lucian, king of the werewolves in all three Underworld movies, last summer Sheen traded in one set of hair extensions and fake incisors for another. Now he's playing head vampire of The Volturi in Twilight: New Moon, directed by Chris Weitz. The film is due in November.

Thompson on Hollywood

While Sheen's willingness to embrace versatility may have a downside-- not creating a brand identity--"I enjoy the challenge of playing lots of different characters," he says, "and having people accept me as that character."

Thompson on Hollywood
On stage in London and New York and in the Ron Howard movie Frost/Nixon, Sheen held his own with Frank Langella as they reenacted the 1977 ramp-up and television face-off between cheery TV host David Frost and embittered ex-president Richard M. Nixon. Sheen shares an unusually collaborative relationship with Frost/Nixon writer Morgan. Sheen starred as Tony Blair in both Morgan and Stephen Frears' TV film The Deal and the Oscar-winning The Queen.

Now Sheen stars in yet another plum role from Morgan, the Brit soccer flick The Damned United. Under the direction of Tom Hooper (John Adams), Sheen plays the real-life brash, controversial, alcoholic, arrogant and charismatic soccer coach Brian Clough. More than a soccer movie, the movie is about ambition driven by revenge as well as love. "Peter has a knack for making subjects accessible," Sheen says. "Initially, Frost/Nixon and The Queen were both a hard sell." Morgan was going to direct The Special Relationship, in which Sheen continued as Blair opposite Dennis Quaid and Hope Davis as Bill and Hillary Clinton, but as Sheen explains, Morgan's up-close ongoing participation during production as a writer forced him to back away as director. Richard Loncraine took over the helm. Now, Sheen swears, his Blair-playing days are over.

Thompson on Hollywood

Next Sheen co-stars opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Gregor Jordan's Unthinkable, voices the White Rabbit in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and stars in the CG remake of Tron. Is there anything he will not do? He admits that while it's hard for him to turn an offer down, he's going to give it a try.

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More: Franchises, Genres, Interviews, Twilight, Biopics

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6 Comments

  • Mazzieemoo | September 7, 2009 11:49 AMReply

    Michael Sheen should have won the oscar and I am sure he will one day. He is a very versatile actor and believable in the parts he plays. I have enjoyed all his performances and look forward to more. The Damned United is a fantastic film as was Frost/Nixon. I would like to see him get recognition for good parts and not just know as Lucian or Aro. Keep up the gret and fantastic work Michael.

  • Holly | August 28, 2009 7:17 AMReply

    Its urked me that Sheen hasnt been Oscar nominated yet. He was robbed for the Queen and Frost/Nixon.

  • helen | August 28, 2009 7:15 AMReply

    Michael is an amazing actor. I urge you to seek out Damned United. Its a wonderful film and he and Timothy Spall give brilliant and touching performances. I'm from Michael's home town and while I too left Wales many years ago I'm very proud of what he's achieved and always keep an eye on his career. I hope he gets the opportunity to film his next stage role - William Maitland in INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE.

  • TB | August 28, 2009 5:58 AMReply

    I love Michael Sheen! I first started noticing him when he kept popping up in small parts in one movie after the other and often "stealing" the scene. That made me go, "Who is this guy?" and to find out more about him.

  • Sully | August 28, 2009 5:18 AMReply

    Agreed. Sheen's one of those guys you wanna see in anything. (Remember when the Academy didn't nominate him for The Queen -- that was funny!)

    So, seriously, what are the chances he WON'T be Bilbo Baggins?

  • Ryan Sartor | August 28, 2009 3:26 AMReply

    I thought Michael Sheen was the best thing about the film "Frost/Nixon." The more subtle actor never gets the Oscar nomination.

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