South West Wales

Actor Michael Sheen to focus more on political activism

Michael Sheen with Port Talbot steelworks in the background
Image caption Michael Sheen in a recent documentary about the threatened Port Talbot steelworks

Welsh actor Michael Sheen has dismissed newspaper claims he is quitting Hollywood to become a politician.

The Bafta-nominated star plans to focus more on political activism in his home town of Port Talbot.

But he clarified reports by the Times Magazine that he was leaving acting behind and going into politics.

The 47-year-old said he may eventually put his career on hold, but had not yet decided.

In a blog statement Sheen, who has lived in Los Angeles for 14 years, said his decision to focus more on issues in Port Talbot could mean he would have to scale back on his acting work.

He said he might even stop acting for a while at some point.

Sheen has taken an increasingly vocal role in activism over the past few years, which was sparked by his involvement in staging the National Theatre Wales's production of The Passion in Port Talbot in 2011 over the Easter weekend, involving street performances with more than 1,000 volunteers.

Sheen told the newspaper the research and the immersion in the community led to more political engagement "as an absolutely natural progression".

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Michael Sheen and Sarah Silverman at the US premiere of his latest film, Passengers

On Saturday, in an interview with the Times, he said: "In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped.

"What I think must be resisted is the re-emerging spectre of fascism in the West. Our democracy must be defended and each of us needs to decide how we can contribute to that effort."

The actor has been a contributor to political debate on topics including the NHS, of which he is a passionate supporter, fracking, homelessness, freedom of information and is an ambassador for the United Nation's children's organisation Unicef.

He said the recent US election result coming on top of the UK's Brexit vote - which was supported in Port Talbot - heightened thoughts he already had about a return to Wales.

"It's not going to look like this in 10 years' time," he said.

"Everything has shifted… The dice are being rolled again."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Michael Sheen was 'crucified' during a theatre production entitled 'The Passion' in Port Talbot in 2011

Following the article, Sheen later tweeted: "Before this gets ridiculous I said I'm thinking I might start acting less and maybe even stop for a while at some point but don't know yet."

He also tweeted that it was not about the decision by the UK to leave the EU but the "general world rise of anti-democratic forces" which he said "must be stopped".

He told BBC Wales last year people should be given the power to run communities instead of "career politicians".

Sheen moved to Hollywood to be near his then three-year-old daughter Lily with his former partner, British actress Kate Beckinsale.

He has previously said once his daughter went to college and he did not "necessarily have to be there then things will change".

For the past few years he has been in a relationship with US comedian Sarah Silverman and he admitted he did not know whether the relationship would work across the Atlantic.

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