On Saturday, The Times UK released an interview with Michael Sheen in which he talked about the current political climate and how as a UK person he was affected by the Brexit vote. He’s also a Hollywood person, so he’s indirectly affected by President-Elect Donald Trump. Michael’s not feeling either, and wants to make an effort to fight against the “hard populist right.” Michael said it was important to him to get more involved, and he’s going to start in his hometown of Port Talbot, Wales. He claimed that he’s so passionate about fighting the hard right (that sounded sexier than it should have), and that he could end up stepping away from Hollywood for a while. The media soon took that quote turned it into “MICHAEL SHEEN QUITS HOLLYWOOD FOR CAREER IN POLITICS!” Every critic who pinched their nose at the stink coming from Passengers just thought, “Wow, going out on a high note, I see.”
Well, Michael Sheen isn’t actually quitting acting. Michael Sheen says he didn’t say that.
Michael slapped at The Times UK for twisting his words:
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.
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) December 17, 2016
Brexit will of majority&totally understandable. Not about that. Talked about general world rise of anti-democratic forces. Must be stopped.
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) December 17, 2016
On Saturday evening, Michael posted a longer statement of clarification on Tumblr:
WHAT I DID NOT SAY
I did one interview with The Times of London a few weeks ago, parts of which (including a headline that is not a quote) have been picked up by a lot of other outlets. I DID NOT declare that I’m ‘quitting acting and leaving Hollywood’ to go into politics.
In the actual original interview I said I have become more involved with community issues back at home over the last few years and because of the political situation it’s something I would like to focus on more. The interviewer asked me what that meant for my career and I said it might mean I work less as an actor and maybe even stop for a while AT SOME POINT. But I don’t really know yet.
I certainly did NOT equate people who voted for Brexit or Trump with a fascistic ‘hard right’ that must be stopped. The majority of people in the U.K., including my hometown of Port Talbot, voted for Brexit. That is the will of the people and is to be respected. That is democracy. Given the concerns around the economy in the area I come from and its industrial history I totally empathise with the dissatisfaction with the status quo that the vote was partially an expression of.
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.
Michael clearly had more feelings on the subject. On Sunday, he decided to post a longer, more thorough explanation of his first explanation titled “So…“. You can read the whole thing here, but below are a few quotes:
In the interests of clarity and for anyone who gives a monkey’s, here’s where I’m at. Like so many people, I’m worried about the effects on our civilisation of what appears to be an increasing emergence of forces and instincts across Europe and the West with anti-democratic, deeply authoritarian and worryingly demagogic elements. Whether they come from the left or the right of the political spectrum. Whether they were part of voting For or Against Brexit. For or Against Trump. Or any other of the votes or referendums that are going on.
So where do you start?
Actions speak louder than words and eventually you have to put your money where your mouth is.
If you care you have to at least try. Even if you fail. You have to try.
You start from knowing what you don’t know and how ridiculous you seem and how unprepared you are.
But you start.
And you listen and try to hear.
And go where it takes you.
Try and leave behind left and right and see if you can contribute to solving actual problems that people are having.
Stick to your values.
Stand up for fairness.
Stand up to their enemies.
Try not to do more harm than good.
Not give a shit what people call you or accuse you of.
Unless there’s truth in it.
Then have the courage to learn from it.
Be merciless about your own ego.
Know that sometimes you can be what most gets in your own way.
And just keep going until you’re not helping anymore.
If you ever did.
But at least you’ll know you tried.
You have to start somewhere.
And you have to start.
That was ~moving~, wasn’t it. Is Michael sure he doesn’t want to quit Hollywood for good and go into politics? That whole thing read like it should have ended with the words “… And that is why I, Michael Sheen, that guy who played Liz Lemon’s smarmy British boyfriend Wesley Snipes on 30 Rock, have decided to run for President of something. I just haven’t decided what that something is. Vote for Sheen in 2017!” If it means we get Sarah Silverman as First Lady of Whatever, I’m into it.