One of the UK’s hottest exports in recent years, the critics adore him. He is the opposite of a star in the head-swivelling Hollywood sense. Known for his carefully nuanced performances of real people (his portrayal of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen was creepily accurate), he has the kind of serious career most stars would give their eye teeth for, with BAFTA nominations for The Queen and TV dramas Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa! and Dirty Filthy Love.
Yet here he is telling me how his heart lies, not in theatre and highbrow roles, but in sci-fi fantasy; that his favourite author is the shock-horror blockbuster novelist Stephen King, and that he narrowly missed a career as a professional footballer.
Sheen is sipping tea at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. The 41-year-old Welshman runs his fingers through Dylanesque curls. In spite of the grey that peppers his brown hair and lightly lined face, he retains a boyish air. Slim, wide-eyed and friendly, he is unrecognisable from any of his famous on-screen personas – Tony Blair, flamboyant actor Kenneth Williams, heavyweight journalist David Frost and outspoken football manager Brian Clough – evidence, perhaps, of his chameleon-like ability to immerse himself in diverse characters.
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