Michael Sheen – Underrated Actor?

Michael Sheen appeared on the Graham Norton show a week or so ago now. I must first say that I love Graham Norton and have been a fan of his for such a long time now, he asks questions that other talk show hosts could not get away with and getting them to do random things. Any way Michael Sheen was a guest and even done an impression of graham. They talked about his recent appearance in New Moon as Aro and the impact that this could have on his career, this lead me to think about Michael Sheen . . .

He has been Tony Blair but over shadowed by Helen Mirren as the queen. He has been David Frost but again over shadowed by Frank Langella as president Richard Nixon. He eventually took centre stage as the legendary Brian Clough (in The Damned United) and was phenomenal but will this role bring him some awards glory? At least nominations? Well I for one certainly hope so, the Baftas have to be his biggest hope. I always felt he has not received enough credit for his work in the queen or Frost/Nixon even though the leads performances would not have been the same without him as such a fantastic supporting actor, if you can call him that in Frost/Nixon.


He has impressed me in everything I have seen him in and was definitely the best thing about new moon even if it was more like a cameo. When speaking about joining the Twilight Saga, Michael admitted that the whole fandom of it had not really effected him in the sense of people bothering him in the street with just one incident occurring (so far). I don’t really think it will have too much impact on his career and possibly will just make him more well-known . . . which hopefully would make people watch his previous film work and get to see how fantastic he really is.

Whilst on Graham Norton he seemed so down to earth and like nothing bothered him, although I have to admit that I did not realise he was Welsh?!? Maybe just not paying attention on my behalf or just that I had never seen him in a more relaxed interview, sitting alongside Dame Shirley Bassey.

One of his up and coming films will see him become Tony Blair again focusing on “The Special Relationship”  (2011) with Bill Clinton. Which yes I am very much looking forward to. I like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, although I am finding it hard to imagine Dennis Quaid as Clinton.  He is also in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” next year as the white rabbit.

Before entering the world of film, Michael spent a decade on the London stage, whilst having small roles in films. His first major film role had to be in Underworld (2003) opposite Kate Beckinsdale, in which he played a Werewolf, must not be many actors who have had portrayed a werewolf and a vampire. Kate Beckinsdale was a long time girlfriend of Sheen, they had a daughter together in 1999. They are no longer together.

I have to admit that each time I see Michael in a film I become more and more impressed with his acting abilities, I really hope this continues when I see his new films but also catching up on some of the older films which I have missed. My favorite role so far has to be in The Damned United as Brian Clough, he really brough ol’ big head back to life with such confidence and arrogance Cloughie had himself, which in my opinion really shows how talented Michael is to be able to bring him back to life.

How do you feel about Michael Sheen?

Do you think he is underrated?

Which is your favorite performance of his so far?


24 thoughts on “Michael Sheen – Underrated Actor?

  1. I think Michael is a fine actor, and has been somewhat underrated in the past, but seems to be getting more recognition now. I like all his performances (except Aro – which was awful) but my fave will always be Lucian in Underworld.


    • Ooo really you didn’t like his performance as Aro? I thought it was just brilliant because he was so creepy. He just needed to be in New Moon more I thought.


  2. Don’t forget he also played Kenneth Williams to great effect. He is a great actor but I wouldn’t necessarily call him underrated as he has been getting a lot of plaudits in the last few years. I think the problem he has, is when playing a real person he impersonates them so well that people are forget that he is giving a great performance and just come out saying how much like Blair or Frost he was.

    Dennis Quaid is an interesting choice but I think he can pull if off. I would have expected John Travolta as he looked like Clinton when he had his hair dyed grey for Primary Colours.


  3. Forgot to say above: Bela Lugosi, best known as Dracula also played the imaginatively named Bela in The Wolf Man. He played the Wolf/Man who bites Lon Chaney turning him into a werewolf. I can’t think of any others b there probably are some.


    • Just putting together a blog on werewolves and have come up with another actor who has played both a werewolf and a vampire. Stephen Rea in The Company of Wolves and Interview with the Vampire respectively, both directed by Neil Jordan.


  4. I absolutely agree!! I noticed him in Underworld and really liked his performance. He’s fantastic as Tony Blair in The Queen and though I have yet to see Frost/Nixon, he seemed to nail the Frost role from the clips/trailers I’ve seen. He’s also great in interviews, I tend to like/appreciate actors who are great in both movies and as him/herself in interviews and he’s definitely one of them. I have to check out The Damned United soon, he’s slowly becoming one of my faves. Great post, Caz!


    • He really was great in Frost/Nixon, and I enjoyed that on the whole as well as a film and thought it deserved more credit that it got at the time. I will look forward to seeing how you find The Damned United when you get to watch it.


  5. I love all his work but then I am biased – I run a fansite for Michael Sheen.

    http://www.michael-sheen.co.uk for anyone wanting info on his back catalogue.

    Personally, my favourite role is Lucian from Underworld as it was the first thing I saw him in and when I first fell in love with him and the character. I agree, historically he has received much critical aclaim but underrated in the eyes of award councils – I think this award will change that. He has already won several Best Actor awards this year, and is favourite to be nominated for a Golden Globe and hopefully the Oscars too.


  6. I think he is underrated. He gave great performances in Frost/Nixon, The Queen and The Damned United. It’s a shame that he could slips into a role seamlessly and not get recognized for it.


  7. Yes! It’s annoying. Why hasn’t anyone spotted him yet? I’m aware he’s acclaimed, to some degree, but this guy should have his schedule jam packed full of upcoming films. They’re not utilizing their resources. He’s oozing with friggin talent and it’s nearly being wasted. LEAD ROLES- lots of them, good ones. He’s what people will pay to see AND he can do them well…


    • I really hope we do get to see Michael in more leading roles in the future as he really can lead a film. His performance in The Damned United certainly has proven that.


  8. Hi Caz, I just want to thank you for inspiring me to write a long overdue post about an underrated actor: http://wp.me/pxXPC-Cv! Sometimes it just takes a bit of a ‘nudge’ to realize something you’ve been wanting to write but never got around to it.


  9. I wouldn’t necessarily say that his work isn’t appreciated, no. His performance in The Damned United has been receiving plenty of recognition, and he’s well-known to “genre” fans for portraying Lucian in two Underworld movies. Despite being partially overshadowed in The Queen, his portrayal of Blair was still widely acknowledged as one of the film’s strengths, yes?

    I’ve also seen him in New Moon, and his portrayal of Aro was spot-on.


  10. I’ve never seen a Michael Sheen performance that didn’t enormously impress me.

    I loved him in ;Frost/Nixon’ and ‘The Damned United’, and for me his brief appearance in ‘New Moon’ was one of the film’s few redeeming features.

    But I have to make a special mention of one of his earliest roles. His performance as Robbie Ross in ‘Wilde’ (1997) was understated and incredibly touching.


  11. I guess no one here saw “Unthinkable”. Honestly, that had to be a tour de force for Mr. Sheen. Frost/Nixon was good, as was The Damned United, but New Moon? Come on, he has like 5 minutes of screen time, which to be honest are the only 5 minutes that dont suck.

    Later folks


    • AJ – Just finished watching UNTHINKABLE and it’s flaws (heavy handed direction, overbearing score) were overshadowed by Michael Sheen’s very impressive performance. A tour de force indeed.

      In short, I would agree that he is indeed underrated as he’s proven to be a very flexible actor, even doing a pretty great comic turn as Wesley Snipes a recurring role on 30 ROCK.

      Look forward to more good things from him, though it would be great to see less biopic material and more original characters from him.


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