Even though he had burned up the London stage for nearly a decade--and appeared in several films--Michael Sheen was not really "discovered" by American audiences until his critically-acclaimed turn as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the 1999 Broadway revival of "Amadeus".
The only son of Meyrick and Irene Sheen, the charming, curly-haired actor grew up a middle-class boy in the working-class town of Port Talbot, Wales. Although his parents worked in personnel, they shared with their son a deep appreciation for acting, with Meyrick Sheen enjoying some success later in life as a Jack Nicholson impersonator.
As a young man, Michael Sheen turned down the opportunity to pursue a possible professional football career, opting to follow in the footsteps of Daniel Day-Lewis and Patrick Stewart by attending the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School instead of university. In his second year, he won the coveted Laurence Olivier Bursary for consistently outstanding performances. While Sheen was still studying, he landed a pivotal role opposite stage legend Vanessa Redgrave in Martin Sherman's "When She Danced" (1991). He left school early to make his West End debut and has been dazzling audiences and critics with his intense and passionate performances ever since. Among his most memorable roles were "Romeo" in "Romeo and Juliet", the title role in Yukio Ninagawa's 1994 Royal Shakespeare Company's staging of "Peer Gynt" and "Jimmy Porter" both in a 1994 regional staging in a 1999 London revival of "Look Back in Anger". A critic from the London Times panned the multimedia production of "Peer Gynt", but praised Sheen for his ability to express "astonishing vitality despite lifeless direction". Referring to Sheen's performance in "Look Back in Anger", Susannah Clapp of The Observer hailed him for his "luminous quality" and ability to be goaded and fiery and defensive all at the same time. Sheen also managed to set critics' tongues wagging with a deft performance in the role of "Henry V", not a part traditionally given to a slight, boyish-looking actor. One writer raved: "Sheen, volatile and responsive in an excellent performance, showed us the exhilaration of power and conquest".
In 1993, Sheen joined the troupe "Cheek By Jowl" and was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award for his performance in "Don't Fool with Love". That same year, he excelled as a mentally unstable man who becomes enmeshed in a kidnapping plot in "Gallowglass" (1993), a three-part BBC serial that aired in the USA on PBS' "Mystery!" in 1995. The actor nabbed his first feature film role in 1994, playing Dr. Jekyll's footman in Mary Reilly (1996) opposite John Malkovich and Julia Roberts, but that film did not make it into theaters until 1996, a year after Sheen's second movie, Othello (1995), was filmed and released. Perhaps his most memorable big screen role at that point, however, was "Robert Ross", Oscar Wilde's erstwhile lover, in the 1997 biopic Wilde (1997). He would also be seen in the Brit road film Heartlands (2002) opposite Mark Addy.
Hot off the success of "Amadeus", Sheen began racking up even more notable big screen credits, starring opposite Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley and Kate Hudson in The Four Feathers (2002) and landing a major role opposite Kate Beckinsale in the action-horror blockbuster Underworld (2003), along with supporting turns in Bright Young Things (2003), Timeline (2003) and as British Prime Minister Tony Blair in director Stephen Frears' film The Queen (2006). Next, Sheen grabbed good notices played a divorce-embattled rock star, stealing scenes from Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore in the romantic comedy Laws of Attraction (2004).
Back on the stage, the actor earned raves for his performance as "Caligula" in London, for which he won the Evening Standard Award and Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, along with a nomination for the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award.
Brother of Joanne Sheen.
He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2000 (1999 season) for Best Actor for his performance in "Look Back in Anger" at the Royal National Theatre, Lyttelton stage.
He was nominated for a 1999 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Supporting Performance of 1998 for his role in "Amadeus".
He was nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor of 2003 for his performance in "Caligula" at the Donmar Warehouse.
He was awarded the 2003 London Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance in Caligula at the Donmar Warehouse.
Became an Associate Member of RADA.
Graduated from RADA.
Primary residence is in London, England. He also has an apartment in Los Angeles so he can spend time with his daughter.
In 1997, as both actor and director, he ran "Thin Language", a Welsh theatre company co-jointly with Simon Harris, and mounted a production (directed by Sheen) of Harris's play "Badfinger" at the Donmar. He also joined forces with Helen McCrory and Robert Delamere to set up a new writing production company called "Foundry" that same year.
One of 115 people invited to join AMPAS in 2007.
His father works as a professional Jack Nicholson look-a-like.
He was awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2009 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to Drama.
His favorite film is Stairway to Heaven (1946). Other favorite films include Apocalypse Now (1979), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Twelve Monkeys (1995), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
Has played both a werewolf (in Underworld series) and a vampire (in Twilight Saga).
Lived with fellow Welsh actor and friend Matthew Rhys for some time in Los Angeles. They had previously shared a flat when living in London.
Was in a relationship with actress Rachel McAdams from July 2010 until 2013.
It's interesting that in searching for monsters to play you often end up playing leaders.
[on playing "Castor" in TRON: Legacy (2010)] I wanted him to be like a sort of popular-culture jukebox program and, then underneath it all, there's something completely psychotic going on.
Having played a lot of characters that are dangerously close to caricature, there's something I've always found, and that is: everything you do has to be connected to the source of what the character really is.
My job takes me away from my daughter Lily a lot, so when I am with her the time is precious. When I'm filming I try to speak to her every day and let her know that I'm thinking of her and hopefully stay a presence in her life. I want Lily to have a parent who is enjoying and is passionate about their work but at the same time I don't want it to be something that takes me away from her too much.
I do think there's a kind of a dark energy in Port Talbot. It's dominated by the steelworks, where there's this fire that's pumping out energy every day, and I think that is a good symbol for a kind of restless, fiery energy.
I'm definitely passionate and obsessed, and maybe that is a result of where I grew up. There was a real anger to south Wales in the 1970s and '80s when industries were dismantled and people's livelihoods were being messed up. There was a lot of unemployment and depression. I look at actors like Burton and Hopkins, and what they have in common is a dark anger that comes out in their acting. They're at their best when they're letting all that anger go. I can also see that in me.
There's a great deal to be said about talent and inspiration but hard work is the most important in terms of being able to do anything well.
|The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)||$7,300,000|
(February 2007) Finishing his run as David Frost in the West End production of "Frost/Nixon", and preparing for its Broadway transfer.
(December 2008) Central London, England
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