Sheen Aims to Shine as a 'Jagged and Uncomfortable' Hamlet; Port Talbot Actor to Play Classic Shakespearean Role Next Year

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 14, 2010 | Go to article overview

Sheen Aims to Shine as a 'Jagged and Uncomfortable' Hamlet; Port Talbot Actor to Play Classic Shakespearean Role Next Year


Byline: Daniel Fisher

PORT TALBOT actor Michael Sheen is set to follow in the footsteps of Welsh acting legend Richard Burton as he prepares to play Hamlet at London's Young Vic next year.

The 41-year-old actor - celebrated for his portrayals of people such as Tony Blair, Brian Clough and David Frost - will return to Shakespeare for the first time since his youth, where he won plaudits for his turns as Henry V and Romeo.

Sheen will be the third high-profile actor to tackle the role in as many years, after hugely successful versions from David Tennant and Jude Law took London by storm.

The production will see Sheen reunited with director Ian Rickson, who oversaw his production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the National Theatre.

Sheen said: "It's the most dangerous play that exists, yet our culture has made it safe. It has become a rite-of-passage play for actors.

"But it is about the very nature of life, death and reality. What I want is to make it difficult and jagged again, unsettling and uncomfortable and disorienting for the audience.

"One of the advantages of coming at it at this end of my career is that I am less concerned with establishing myself as an actor. I've done enough things to realise that unless the whole piece is working, it doesn't matter whether your part is big or small."

The production will be Rick-son's first attempt at directing Shakespeare, which made it all the more appealing, Sheen said.

"I liked the way he worked, we worked well together and I love the fact that he doesn't really do classical stuff," he told The Guardian.

"I had seen Jerusalem at the Royal Court, and thought, 'This is the guy for me'. …

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