Zap2it: You’ve played well-known real-life characters such as Tony Blair and David Frost. What are the challenges in doing that?
Michael Sheen: Partly it depends on how familiar the audience is with them. … When I played Blair and Frost and people like that, knowing that it was going to be for a British audience, initially certainly, I had to do a lot of work over and above the other work that you would do for any sort of character. … You obviously have to take on board how someone looks and sounds and moves.
But to try and make that tied to who they are underneath … those are the sort of stuff you would do for any character but you have an end result already pre-existing with characters like that and they have to somehow match up in some way. So that’s a much different challenge to the challenge to playing someone like Bill (Masters of “Masters of Sex”), who is still a real person but I’m not trying to match up to some sort of pre-existing image.
Zap2it: Have you ever heard any feedback from Blair or Frost on how you played them?
Michael Sheen: Well, David was involved with the production (of ‘Frost/Nixon”). It started off in the theater and we did it for just over a year and a half in the theater first in various places … .
I met Blair once, and his official line has always been that he hasn’t watched any of them, because if he was to say that he watched them, then people can ask whether it’s true or not. And I understand that he doesn’t want to have to get into that kind of a conversation about stuff. But I got the impression that he was familiar with them but he wasn’t going to give any kind of view on it, particularly.