Tony Blair admits to Michael Sheen he can’t watch himself being acted on screen
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted to Michael Sheen that he can’t watch the actor from Port Talbot play him in a movie because watching himself being acted on screen was a “scary feeling”.
Michael Sheen has played Tony Blair three times in various roles, the television film The Deal in 2003, followed by The Queen in 2006 and The Special Relationship in 2010, earning him nominations for both a BAFTA Award and an Emmy.
But in a conversation between the two recorded in The New Statesman, Tony Blair admitted that while Michael Sheen was a “brilliant actor” watching himself be acted on screen was “very odd”.
“Let me be absolutely frank: I genuinely have never watched the performances all the way through,” he said.
“I’ve seen clips; my family have watched all of them and tell me about all the scenes. In the only bits I’ve seen, what does come across is that you’re actually representing a character and not a caricature, and that’s actually very powerful.
“You’re a brilliant actor. By all accounts, the portrayals are all very good, and from the short bits my kids have shown me, you do extremely well.”
He added: “But it’s a very odd thing to see yourself portrayed on screen. When you become a prime minister, or even just a leading politician, it’s kind of a conspiracy against you being normal. And one of the things that reduces the normality is seeing yourself portrayed: it’s a slightly scary feeling.”
Michael Sheen said that he also struggled to watch his own performances, adding that playing a real person was a “real responsibility: you’re dealing with someone’s actual life”.
“People, rightly or wrongly, are going to look at what you do and believe that’s what happened.”
He said that he always looked for the “contradiction, the complication, the richer, more problematic side of the person” he was acting.
“But I can’t watch it. I did it three times and only by the third time could I even really watch it and go, “That’s not a caricature any more.'”
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