Michael Sheen biography

Michael Sheen

Last updated: 11 January 2011

From RADA to playing the prime minister, Newport-born stage and screen actor Michael Sheen has come a long away.

Watch Michael Sheen discussing his role in Frost/Nixon.

Born in Newport in 1969, Michael Sheen has established himself as one of the rare breed of actors whose technical depth and passion has seen him equally at home on stage and screen.

Playing the Prime Minister in the aftermath of Diana, Princess Of Wales' death in the 2006 film The Queen, Sheen once more illustrates his much-vaunted skills in playing real people. Roles as Kenneth Williams and David Frost have won him praise for both his range and his attention to detail.

Despite being brought up in the industrial heartland of south Wales in the Seventies, Sheen's theatrical leanings were allowed expression; he turned down the opportunity to pursue professional football and at 16 joined the National Youth Theatre Of Wales.

But it was his training at the internationally-renowned Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) that set him on the road to stardom. His first starring role came while still at the Academy opposite Vanessa Redgrave in When She Danced, while another early starring role was as Mozart in Sir Peter Hall's production of Amadeus at the Old Vic, which he later reprised on Broadway.

His theatrical career (including the productions Peer Gynt, Look Back In Anger, Henry V, Caligula and Moonlight) has run parallel to his burgeoning cinematic career since 1996. Both UK and Hollywood film industries have courted Sheen and he's building an impressive filmography.

The Queen now lies alongside Fantabulosa!, Underworld, Kingdom Of Heaven, Laws Of Attraction and Wilde in Sheen's CV, as does a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in 2005 for the TV drama Dirty Filthy Love. It seems it's only a matter of time before nominations turn to awards for one the UK's most well-regarded acting talents.

His role as David Frost in Peter Morgan's 2006 Donmar Warehouse production of Frost/Nixon was highly acclaimed, and the production later transferred to the Gielgud Theatre and later to Broadway. Sheen reprised the role in the film adaptation, directed by Ron Howard and released in the UK in 2009.

Michael Sheen was awarded an OBE in the 2009 New Year Honours.

He starred as Brian Clough in The Damned United, released in March 2009, and as vampire Aro in the The Twilight Saga: New Moon, adapted from the novel by the popular author Stephenie Meyer, in November.

Released in UK cinemas on 5 March 2010, Sheen voiced the character of the White Rabbit in Tim Burton's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic children's novel Alice in Wonderland.

Also in March 2010 he appeared on American hit comedy sketch show 30 Rock.

Another project that involved working with writer Peter Morgan (with whom Sheen had previously worked with on Frost/Nixon, The Damned United and The Queen) was The Special Relationship, which saw him again take on the role of former prime minister Tony Blair.

He also stars in film Unthinkable with Samuel L Jackson and Carrie-Anne Moss.

In July 2010 Sheen was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in The Special Relationship.

Sheen stars in the forthcoming film Beautiful Boy, the début feature by Shawn Ku, which had its world première at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010. It picked up the prize of the International Critics for the Discovery programme at the festival.

He also provides the voice of Dr. Griffiths in new Disney film Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.

Sheen appeared in Tron: Legacy, which was released in December 2010. The sequel to the cult 1982 original, Sheen played the part of the villain Castor - with the actor saying he modelled the character on an albino version of Ziggy Stardust and also took inspiration from The Rocky Horror Picture Show character Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

Future projects include a film adaptation of Owen Sheers' novel Resistance, Woody Allen film Midnight In Paris and a continuation of his role as Aro in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, parts one and two.

Selected film roles

  • 1997: Robbie Ross, Wilde
  • 2003: Miles, Bright Young Things
  • 2004: Thorne Jamison, Laws Of Attraction
  • 2005: Priest, Kingdom Of Heaven
  • 2005: Lucian, Underworld: Evolution
  • 2006: Simmons, Blood Diamond
  • 2009: David Frost, Frost/Nixon
  • 2009: Lucian, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans
  • 2009: Brian Clough, The Damned United
  • 2010: White Rabbit (voice of), Alice In Wonderland
  • 2010: Tron: Legacy

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