Michael Sheen announced in an interview with The Big Issue (via BBC) that he has “essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor.” What this means is that Sheen will take the majority of his pay from various film, television, and stage projects and funnel it into community-driven projects. As an example, the “Frost/Nixon” and “Masters of Sex” actor recently put forward around $66,000 to fund a scholarship that helps Welsh students attend Oxford University. Sheen also sold two homes to help fund the Homeless World Cup after funding for the $2 million project fell through.
“I had to make a decision — I could walk away from it and it wouldn’t happen,” Sheen said. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to let that happen.’ So, I put all my money into keeping it going. I had a house in America and a house here and I put those up and just did whatever it took. It was scary and incredibly stressful. I’ll be paying for it for a long time. But when I came out the other side, I realized I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money, it’s not going to ruin me.”
The “turning point” for Sheen came after his work on a production of “The Passion” in his hometown of Port Talbot. The actor realized there were a ton of community-driven projects with “just enough funding to make a tiny difference to a kid’s life by putting on one night a week where they could get out and go bowling or watch a film and just be a kid.” Sheen wanted to take his pay and use it to bolster these groups.
“I realized the difference between that child’s life being a little bit better or not was ultimately a small amount of funding and I wanted to help those people,” Sheen said. “I didn’t just want to be a patron or a supportive voice, I wanted to actually do more than that. That’s when I thought, ‘I need to go back and live in Wales again.'”
Sheen recently appeared in the limited series “Quiz” and stars opposite David Tennant in both the pandemic comedy series “Staged” and the Amazon series “Good Omens.”