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Michael Sheen

Sheen at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009
Born 5 February 1969 (1969-02-05) (age 41)
Newport, Wales, United Kingdom
Occupation Actor
Years active 1993–present

Michael Sheen, OBE (born 5 February 1969) is a Welsh film and stage actor. Having worked with screenwriter Peter Morgan on five films,[1] Sheen has become best known for his portrayals of well-known public figures: Tony Blair in The Deal, The Queen, and The Special Relationship, David Frost in the stage production and film version of Frost/Nixon, and football manager Brian Clough in The Damned United.


Early life

Sheen was born in Newport,[2] to Irene and Meyrick Sheen, both of whom worked in personnel management. His father is also a part-time professional Jack Nicholson look-alike.[3][4] He has a younger sister, Joanne. When Sheen was five, the family moved to Liverpool, where he became a lifelong Liverpool F.C. fan by watching the side of the 1970s.[1][5] He returned to his parents' home of Port Talbot three years later, where he attended Glan Afan Comprehensive School and played football for Baglan boys club.[1]

Sheen was offered a trial at Arsenal FC after being spotted by the father of Tony Adams during a family holiday at Pontin's on the Isle of Wight,[5][6] but chose to pursue an acting career instead. He recalled: "I was wearing a Swansea kit at the time, so everyone called me Swansea, which I hated. Tony Adams was playing against me and I skinned him a few times, so I must have made an impression."[7] Deciding not to take the trial as it would have meant the family leaving Port Talbot for London,[1] he lost interest in football in his early teens as football became a more physical game.[5]

Sheen became interested in the theatre through both school study and parents being members of the local amateur dramatic group,[5] which resulted in Sheen joining the West Glamorgan Youth theatre, where he was a contemporary of writer Russell T Davies. [8] After leaving school Sheen accepted a place to study acting at the National Youth Theatre of Wales in Cardiff, and then trained at the internationally renowned Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.


During his second year at RADA he scored his first starring role, opposite Vanessa Redgrave in When She Danced.[9] Sheen soon established himself as one of the most promising talents on the theatrical scene, notably being cast as Mozart in Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus, which was staged at the Old Vic theatre and directed by Sir Peter Hall. He later reprised this role on Broadway.

His screen appearances include the BBC drama serial, Gallowglass (based on the novel by Ruth Rendell), and the films Wilde (1997) (in which he played Robert Ross) and Mary Reilly. However, he remained primarily a stage actor, having starred in high-profile productions of Henry V, Peer Gynt, The Dresser, Caligula and Look Back in Anger, among others.

In 2003, he appeared with Kate Beckinsale in the gothic action film Underworld as the werewolf Lucian. Salon critic Andrew O'Hehir commented that while the "... entire movie is full of campy overacting... Brolly and Sheen seem to have been selected for their talents in this regard."[10] Sheen has also appeared with Beckinsale in the season seven premiere of Punk'd.

He has become well-known for playing real-life characters. He played Tony Blair in the Channel 4 drama The Deal and later, in the film The Queen. He has also played Kenneth Williams in Fantabulosa! on BBC Four, H G Wells in H G Wells: War with the World on BBC Two, and in 2006, he played Nero in the BBC's Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.

At the 2005 British Academy Television Awards, Sheen was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in the TV drama, Dirty Filthy Love, in which he played a man with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 2007, he received two BAFTA nominations, this time for Best Supporting Actor in a Film, for his performance in The Queen, and for Best Television Actor, for his role in Fantabulosa; once again, he was unsuccessful in both cases.

Later that year, he played David Frost in the critically acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production of Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon, which later transferred to the Gielgud Theatre before heading to Broadway in 2007. He has reprised the role in the 2008 Ron Howard-directed film adaptation.

In 2007, he read Paul Torday's novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. The same year, Sheen was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[11]

On 2 October 2007, it was announced that Peter Morgan was working on a sequel to The Queen, and that Sheen will be reprising his role as Tony Blair in The Special Relationship, starring alongside Dennis Quaid as former US President Bill Clinton and Hope Davis as Hillary Clinton.

In January 2009, he returned to the role of Lucian in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the third release in the Underworld film series and prequel to the original 2003 film.

In March 2009 Sheen played Brian Clough to critical acclaim in Peter Morgan's adaptation of David Peace's novel The Damned Utd, based on Clough's 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United. The same year, he co-starred as the vampire Aro in the second installment of the Twilight film series, New Moon, released on November 20.[12] He was the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" on the November 22 2009 edition of Top Gear.[13]

November 2009 also saw the release of the DVD; 'Michael Sheen presents You're The Boss', a documentary comedy celebrating the game's greatest football managers and the highs and lows of football management.[14] In 2010, Sheen appeared in the Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland, alongside Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. In the same year, he will also co-star in the British independent film My Last Five Girlfriends; an American thriller, Unthinkable , alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie-Anne Moss; science fiction sequel Tron Legacy; and the third installment of Peter Morgan's Blair trilogy, The Special Relationship.

Sheen will make a guest appearance in 2 episodes of NBC's 30 Rock as a love interest for the show's protagonist Liz Lemon played by Tina Fey.[15]

Personal life

Sheen and English actress Kate Beckinsale have a daughter, Lily Mo Sheen, born 31 January 1999. When Beckinsale shot the film The Golden Bowl, Sheen hit actor Jeremy Northam after he had insulted Beckinsale.[1] Their seven-year relationship ended when, during the filming of Underworld (in which they both starred), Beckinsale left him for the film's director, Len Wiseman, whom she then married.[16] Although he did not appear in the 2006 sequel Underworld: Evolution, other than in flashbacks to the first film, Sheen had a prominent role in the prequel Underworld 3: The Rise Of The Lycans, which Wiseman produced but did not write or direct,[17] and in which Beckinsale does not appear.[18]

Sheen lived for a time in the United States with Beckinsale, but since their relationship ended, he now splits his time between United Kingdom and Los Angeles co-parenting their daughter.[9] Sheen has been dating ballet dancer Lorraine Stewart since 2003, whom he met while watching cousin Caroline Sheen perform at the National Theatre.[1][5][19]

On 15 July 2008, Sheen was awarded the freedom of the borough of Neath Port Talbot, making him one of the youngest people to receive the honour and putting him amongst a select group of people including Sir Anthony Hopkins.[20]

Sheen was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[21] He was named Actor of the Year in GQ Magazine's 2009 Men of the Year Awards.[22]


Year Film Role Notes
1993 Gallowglass Joe Made-for-television
1995 Othello Lodovico
1996 Mary Reilly Bradshaw
1997 Wilde Robbie Ross
1998 Lost in France Owen Made-for-television
2002 Heartlands Colin
The Four Feathers William Trench
2003 Bright Young Things Miles
Underworld Lucian
The Deal Tony Blair Made-for-television
Timeline Lord Oliver de Vannes
2004 Laws of Attraction Thorne Jamison
Dirty Filthy Love Mark Furness Made-for-television
Nominated — British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor
"The Banker" The Banker Short film
2005 Dead Long Enough Harry Jones
Kingdom of Heaven Priest
"The Open Doors" Framton Nuttel Short film
The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse Jeremy Dyson
2006 Underworld: Evolution Lucian Flash backs only
Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! Kenneth Williams Made-for-television
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated — British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
The Queen Tony Blair Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire Nero 6 part television series
HG Wells: War with the World H. G. Wells Made-for-television
Blood Diamond Rupert Simmons
2007 Music Within Art Honeyman
"Airlock Or How To Say Goodbye In Space" Adam Banton Short film
2008 Frost/Nixon David Frost Film nominated for five Academy Awards
Nominated — London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2009 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Lucian
The Damned United Brian Clough Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama
My Last Five Girlfriends Burnham
The Twilight Saga: New Moon Aro
2010 Unthinkable Younger
Alice in Wonderland The White Rabbit
Tron Legacy Kaster
The Special Relationship Tony Blair


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Michael Sheen (born February 5, 1969) is an award-winning Welsh actor, mainly known for his stage work.


  • "It's interesting that in searching for monsters to play you often end up playing leaders."
  • "It was a good place to grow up....I always loved it even though everyone else hated it and said, 'I can't wait to get out.' I suppose I always assumed that I would leave anyway so I never had a problem with it."
  • “I've never met anyone normal. Normal people - ie, people who aren't actors - are the most bizarre people you can ever come across. I'll talk to someone and come away thinking, they are clinically insane. The only way I can put that into what I do is by playing very extreme characters."
  • But I said to him look it must have been so strange for you to sit there, and watch someone playing you and acting out events from your life.
    He said "In the words of yogi beara it's like deja vu all over again". And I didn't know who yogi beara was. Apparently he's a base ball player, i thought he meant yogi bear. which made it evidenly a much better story.
  • "As an actor I think you're always going to ride a fine line between doing something because you believe it's the right thing to do, and guessing what the public wants to see. For politicians it must be the same, if not more so. You have to be quite vigilant with yourself and question why you're doing certain things as well as what's behind all that. Because otherwise, you can find yourself having made choices for the wrong reasons. And suddenly you're a completely different person than the one you thought you were a year earlier."
  • "Well, I think your successes depend on your failures. In a way, whether something succeeds or fails doesn't matter at all--the point is that you strive, that you take risks, and that you challenge yourself. By doing so, inevitably some of those risks are going to pay off, and some of them are going to turn into what would be considered failures. But when you look back it's very hard to disentangle the successes from the failures. It's all a process."
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