Many were shocked on Saturday morning by a post at The Times titled “Michael Sheen quits acting for activism.” It doesn’t hide the news or make it seem like words were taken out of context, leading to many sites — including this one — to run with the news that Michael Sheen was leaving Hollywood behind to take on the Far Right, partially thanks to quotes like this:
“In the same way as the Nazis had to be stopped in Germany in the Thirties, this thing that is on the rise has to be stopped,”
“It will be a big change for how people relate to me. Once I’m in, I’m fully in, and this is big. As soon as you start to be effective, then people try to crush you, because it’s dangerous.”
It’s a stretch to believe someone like Sheen would leave behind his career, but the idea is a noble one at the end of the day. But it’s apparently just an idea and Sheen is not leaving acting behind completely to devote all his time to politics. In a personal post on Tumblr, Sheen claims that he was misquoted by The Times interview and clarifies his statements:
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.
I support Sheen if he decides to quit acting or doesn’t because either outcome here is pretty admirable. He still seems committed to getting involved, so that aspect hasn’t changed. I’m confused why The Times would quote him as saying things like, “The star has cleared his diary of acting commitments and when asked if he will be “completely” stopping as an actor he replies: ‘Yeah. Certainly for the time being,'” unless there’s some real stretching of his words going on.
Still, it did lead to some fun online. Patton Oswalt posted a few tweets at Sheen in reference to the story:
The way the story spread doesn’t help matters with the current focus on “fake news,” though this seems different than a story based solely on fiction and conspiracy theories. It still falls into that big pile, along with CeeLo’s cell phone video and that Santa Claus story from earlier in the week.