Michael Sheen’s newest film, The Damned United, is causing tongues to waggle and words to be typed at a fast and furious pace. The film is apparently some of Sheen’s best work; I am looking forward to seeing it. Michael Sheen has become one of my favorite actors as I learn more about him for the blog. Time Magazine has recently posted their take on this film.
In Tom Hooper’s new film, The Damned United, British actor Michael Sheen takes on Clough. Like the two roles he’s best known for — Tony Blair in The Queen and David Frost in Frost/Nixon — the part was written for Sheen by British playwright Peter Morgan, their sixth collaboration. Unlike Blair, Clough is barely known outside Britain, and The Damned United is unlikely to get a wide release. That’s a shame; great though Sheen’s Blair and Frost were, his Clough is of an even higher order, combining psychological insight with dead-on accuracy.
Sheen, 40, has just the pedigree for the part. In his youth, he was a talented-enough soccer player to be offered a trial by the London club Arsenal, and he proves on film that he hasn’t lost his touch. He comes from Port Talbot, the same South Wales steel town that produced Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins. Sheen says he spends three months studying characters, “looking at every bit of footage I can find and every book about them that’s been written” and ferreting out their weak spots. In Clough’s case, he didn’t have to look hard. For all his braggadocio, Clough wore his vulnerability on his sleeve.