While promoting Alice, Sheen took time out to chat with ADD about his recent work, his multifaceted career and a rising young star named Robert Pattinson. Our discussion about Tinkerbell and Alice will surface in another outlet at a future date.
You recently played Tony Blair for a third time. You’re like Martin Sheen playing the President of the United States.
I guess so, yeah. We always talked about it as being the three films. The very first one was for British TV called The Deal, and then of course we did The Queen. The third one is The Special Relationship. It was always going to be three stories that Blair was involved in. They’re all written by the same man [Peter Morgan], which is why I’ve done them. I’m not a Blair-For-Hire. I’ve only played the same character three times because it’s the same team behind it, but I think this is the end of it now.
It’s about Blair and America, about Blair’s relationship to and with America, and focusing on Blair and Clinton.
Did it become a challenge to go back to that role and try to get something fresh?
There was never any danger of not being able to get anything new. The Deal ended when Blair became leader of the Labour Party. The Queen followed on with when he became Prime Minister and a very early week in his Prime Ministership. And now this one goes before The Deal and way beyond The Queen, so there’s a lot more scope here. It’s a different kind of journey for Blair in this one, so there’s always something new because it’s different period of his life and a different focus. Each time I come back to the character, hopefully I’ve added in a bit more and there’s a bit more depth, color and texture.
You have done many serious dramatic films as well as some epic genre movies. Do you like that one minute you can play a member of the Volturi and the next minute you’re portraying a famous talk show host?
That’s what I love about this job. It’s why I got into it, I suppose. I have very wide-ranging tastes myself, and so the variety of parts is what keeps it interesting for me.
As Lucian in the Underworld movies, you get to channel your inner badass.
Then you have someone like soccer coach Brian Clough in The Damned United. I got the impression that if they wanted to, his players could have kicked his ass, but he held sway over them. It was interesting how you handled his intimidating personality.
I thought he was incredibly intimidating, Brian Clough. He just dominated people in teams. Anyone who actually met him, whom I talked to or read about, they all talked about he could be a very frightening man, certainly an intimidating presence. He had such self-belief. When someone comes into a room with you and appears to have that much self-belief, it can be a very overwhelming experience, apart from the fact that he had an intimidating wit about him. He had an incredibly sharp mind and a brilliant turn of phrase. I did a lot of research into cult leaders, because the more I found out about the way Clough worked with teams, it seemed the more he had in common with cults. You can see someone who can dominate people that way and play mind games. You never knew what he was going to do — whether he would kiss you, hit you or shout at you — so he ruled with a combination of inspiration, respect and fear.
“I’m not a Blair-For-Hire.”
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is upon us. You have worked with Robert Pattinson in New Moon. What is he like, and do you see him being able to break free of the role of Edward?
I’m sure he’s not going to have any trouble himself personally, it’s whether the audience will accept him as something else. We’ll see. He certainly has the desire to stretch herself as an actor and try different things. He has a [different] film out at the moment, doesn’t he?
Yes, Remember Me, which is really good.
So I hear. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble. He’ll probably always be Edward Cullen for a whole generation, but I’m sure he won’t have any trouble doing that. And he’s lovely. He’s a very nice English lad who seems to have both feet on the ground. He’s very humble, very pleasant and hard-working. He takes what he does very seriously. I think he’s going to do very well, that young lad.
It seems like you’re doing very well.
I’m enjoying everything at the moment. I feel very fortunate that I get to work at all of these incredibly exciting projects — all kinds of things, from low budget, independent stuff to big studio tentpole movies.
You were great in Frost/Nixon on Broadway. Are you going to be coming back to Broadway anytime soon?
I hope so. That would be great. I haven’t got any plans yet, but I try to do a play every couple of years at least. It’s always an exciting prospect, the idea that something might go to Broadway. There is such glamour and excitement about it, so I hope so. If and when I do come back, that will be my third time on Broadway, so it’ll have to be a special one, I think.