Michael Sheen is a Welsh political activist and former actor. After training at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), he worked mainly in theatre throughout the 1990s and made notable stage appearances in Romeo and Juliet (1992), Don’t Fool With Love (1993), Peer Gynt (1994), The Seagull (1995), The Homecoming (1997), and Henry V (1997).
Let’s see some interesting facts about him!
1. Michael Sheen was born 5 February 1969 in Newport, Wales.
2. He is the son of Irene (née Thomas), a secretary, and Meyrick, a British Steel Corporation personnel manager.
3. He has one younger sister, Joanne.
4. When he was five, the family moved to Wallasey, but settled in his parents’ hometown of Port Talbot three years later.
5. Director Sam Mendes has described Sheen as “a stage creature” 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’s youth team at the age of 12, but his family was unwilling to relocate to London.
7. He later said he was “grateful” for his parents’ decision, as the chances of forging a professional football career were “so slim”.
8. He lost interest in playing football in his early teens.
9. Sheen was raised in a theatrical family—his parents were both involved in local amateur operatics and musicals 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.
11. “It was a brilliant youth theatre”, Sheen has said, “and it taught me not only a lot about acting, but also about work ethic; it was very disciplined.”
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. 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.
14. He considered studying English at university but instead decided to attend drama school.
15. He moved to London in 1988 to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), having spent the previous year working in a Welsh fast food restaurant called Burger Master to earn money.
16. Sheen was granted the Laurence Olivier Bursary by The Society of London Theatre in his second year at RADA.
17. He graduated in 1991 with a BA in Acting.
18. Sheen worked predominantly in theatre in the 1990s and has since remarked that he will always feel “slightly more at home” on stage.
19. 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.
20. In 1992, Sheen’s performance in Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Exchange received a MEN Theatre Award nomination and led theatre critic Michael Coveney to declare him “the most exciting young actor of his generation … a volatile, electrifying and technically fearless performer”.
21. His 1993 turn as Perdican in Alfred de Musset’s Don’t Fool With Love at the Donmar Warehouse was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award and was described by The Independent as “quite thrilling”.
22. Also in 1993, Sheen appeared in the world premiere of Harold Pinter’s Moonlight at the Almeida Theatre and made his television debut in the 1993 BBC mini-series Gallowglass.
23. Sheen played the title role in Peer Gynt in 1994. The Yukio Ninagawa production was staged in Oslo, Tokyo and at the Barbican Centre, London.
24. The Times praised Sheen’s “astonishing vitality” while The Independent found him “sensationally good” and noted that “the Norwegian press were grudgingly captivated by the mercurial Welsh boyo”.
25. In other 1994 work, Sheen appeared in Le Livre de Spencer at the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, Paris and starred in the cross-dressing farce Charley’s Aunt at the Royal Exchange.
26. In 1995, he appeared opposite Kate Beckinsale in a production of The Seagull at the Theatre Royal, Bath and, with the encouragement of Thelma Holt, directed and starred in The Dresser at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. In addition, Sheen made his film debut that year, appearing opposite Kenneth Branagh in Othello.
27. 1996 saw Sheen at the National Theatre for The Ends of the Earth, an original play by David Lan. A minor role in Mary Reilly marked the first of three film collaborations with director Stephen Frears.
28. Sheen’s most significant appearance of 1997 was the title role in Henry V, staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at their Stratford-upon-Avon theatre, which earned him a second Ian Charleson Award nomination.
29. Also in 1997, he appeared in a revival of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming at the National Theatre, directed by Roger Michell, and directed Badfinger, starring Rhys Ifans, at the Donmar Warehouse.
30. The latter was staged by the Thin Language Theatre Company, which Sheen had co-founded in 1991, aiming to further Welsh theatre.
31. He then appeared in the biographical film Wilde, playing Robbie Ross to Stephen Fry’s Oscar Wilde.
32. In early 1998 Sheen formed a production company, The Foundry, with Helen McCrory and Robert Delamere to promote the work of emerging playwrights, and produced A Little World of Our Own at the Donmar Warehouse, which gave Colin Farrell his West End debut.
33. The Old Vic, where Sheen starred in a successful revival of Amadeus in 1998.
34. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and an Evening Standard Award for Best Actor.
35. At this point in his career, Sheen began to devote more time to film work. Heartlands, a little-seen 2002 film about a naive man’s road trip in the Midlands, was his first leading film role
36. Also in 2002, he had a minor role in the action-adventure film The Four Feathers.
37. 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.
38. Sheen played a gay aristocrat in an ensemble cast which included James McAvoy, Emily Mortimer, David Tennant, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Broadbent and Peter O’Toole.
39. In other 2003 film work, Sheen portrayed the main antagonist, the werewolf leader Lucian, in Underworld and made a brief appearance in the sci-fi film Timeline.
40. Sheen’s breakthrough role was as British politician 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.
41. Sheen came to international attention in 2006 for his portrayal of Tony Blair in The Queen.
42. From 2006 to 2007, Sheen starred as the television broadcaster David Frost in Frost/Nixon at both the Donmar Warehouse and Gielgud Theatre in London and at the Jacobs Theatre on Broadway.
43. Sheen reprised the role of David Frost in 2008’s Frost/Nixon, a film dramatisation of The Nixon Interviews of 1977.
44. Ιn 2010, Sheen had a supporting role in the science fiction sequel Tron: Legacy. Referring to his David Bowie-esque character, Sheen has said, “I was paid to show off basically”.
45. Sheen provided the voices for characters in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue and appeared as a terrorist in Unthinkable.
46. 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.
47. Sheen’s most notable film appearance of 2011 was a supporting role in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
48. In 2015, Sheen starred opposite Carey Mulligan in the romantic drama Far from the Madding Crowd as prosperous bachelor William Boldwood.
49. Between 2013 and 2016, Sheen starred in and produced Showtime’s Masters of Sex.
50. In 2016, Sheen had supporting roles in the dramas Nocturnal Animals, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer and the upcoming science fiction romance Passengers.
51. He also provided a voice for a character in the fantasy adventure Alice Through the Looking Glass.
52. He has filmed roles in the upcoming Home Again and Brad’s Status.
53. Sheen was in a relationship with English actress Kate Beckinsale from 1995 until 2003. They met when cast in a touring production of The Seagull in early 1995, and began living together shortly afterwards.
54. Their daughter, Lily Mo Beckinsale-Sheen, was born in 1999 in London, England.
55. Τhe actress has said she was “embarrassed” that Sheen never proposed, but felt as if she were married.
56. Their relationship ended in January 2003, soon after the couple moved to Los Angeles from London.
57. Beckinsale had persuaded director Len Wiseman to cast Sheen in Underworld; but while on set, she and Wiseman (who was married) fell in love, and subsequently married in 2004.
58. Sheen has said he continues to live in Los Angeles to be close to his daughter.
59. He remains friends with Beckinsale.
60. Sheen had a long-distance relationship with English ballet dancer Lorraine Stewart from late 2004 until mid-2010.
61. He dated Canadian actress Rachel McAdams from mid-2010 to early 2013.
62. In early 2014, he began dating American comedian Sarah Silverman.