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Michael Sheen Is A New Man

The popular stage and film star takes on the role of a vampire leader in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

By New York City
Michael Sheen
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Michael Sheen
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Over the past 18 years, Michael Sheen has played some of the world's most controversial figures -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Amadeus, Tony Blair in The Queen (which he'll reprise next year for HBO's The Special Relationship), and David Frost in the stage and screen versions of Frost/Nixon -- and now he's adding a controversial otherworldly figure to his resume: the vampire leader Aro in the sure-to-be-blockbuster film The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

While the part is sure to earn him legions of new fans, Sheen is very clear as to why he took the role. "I knew it would make my 10-year-old daughter, Lily, very happy. I have to say up front that was the main reason," he notes. "But when I read the Twilight books, I really enjoyed them, and I didn't think I would."

This is not Sheen's first time in the fantasy world, having starred as the werewolf Lucien in the film series Underworld. And transforming from one unnatural figure into another made Sheen a little anxious. "I was worried that the fans wouldn't accept me," he says. "Hopefully, people won't have a problem with me being in this whole other werewolf/vampire franchise. I am just very pleased that I can have a whole new generation to scare!" So what's the primary difference between playing a werewolf and a vampire? "The tailoring is so much better as a vampire," he matter-of-factly replies.

Whether it's a fictional, historical or supernatural being, the essence of how to portray a character begins and ends in the same place for Sheen. "If I were a painter, I'd have a palette of colors and go 'this is what I use.' But my pallet is me, all I have is me -- my experience, my imagination," he explains. "I'm always aware that there are, broadly speaking, two different ways to act -- there is 'acting' and there is 'being,' and I'm more interested in 'being.' It has to be coming from a real place or otherwise it's just 'acting'."

Having success in mainstream films can open up a world of possibilities for an actor, but Sheen is conscious of fame's limitations too. "I want people to not notice me. I want people to notice the character and go with the story. And I guess that gets progressively harder now that people are familiar with me from other things," he says. "What attracted me into acting is that people don't see me, but they see the character. I know that is becoming progressively harder."

Indeed, next year, he'll appear on screen in the long-awaited Tron Legacy and as The White Rabbit in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Sheen is also taking on the role of creative director for his native Wales National Theatre, where he'll oversee Passion Plays. But titles, applause, and awards -- he was recently named Film Star of the Year at the Variety Club Showbusiness Awards in London -- aren't as thrilling to him as the honor Lily bestowed on him just recently. "She's got pictures from Twilight and New Moon everywhere in her bedroom," he notes. "And now, she's put her dad up there as well."


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