It's kind of hard to upstage a "Twilight" movie -- especially when you consider the gossipy baggage that has come along with the YA franchise of late. But, leave it to Michael Sheen to do just that. Because if there's anything that can grab the imagination of the finicky and/or easily amused press, it's a hipster mustache.
Sheen has one of the more fascinating careers in Hollywood. One minute, he's portraying Tony Blair -- a role he's played to perfection three times, in "The Deal," "The Queen" and "The Special Relationship"; the next, he's playing a character like Castor in "Tron: Legacy," a part so bananas that it felt like it belonged in a different movie. This week, Sheen returns in "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2" as Aro, leader of the Volturi, who is causing some fits for poor Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson). I spoke to Sheen by phone and, yes, we talked about his new mustache.
Even across the country, and with a hurricane going on, I still heard many things about your new mustache.
[Laughs] Ah, yes. Well, obviously, mustache news comes higher up than Sandy news.
I think it's right below "Star Wars." It goes "Star Wars 7," mustache, Sandy.
Yeah ... and the election comes just below my mustache. Obviously.
I saw a picture of it. It's great.
I even waxed the ends of it. So I really gave it that little extra today.
I assume it's for a role?
No, it's not! That's the thing: people always assume that when an actor is sporting a very sort of non-traditional look, that, it's for a role. Which I can sort of use as an excuse to look however I want to look.
It's interesting because you've had the full beard before. That never seems to get as much attention as just a mustache.
People have gotten used to the full beard look -- the sort of Grizzly Adams look. I'm glad that my mustache can still turn heads and cause mutters. I like that.
When you did "New Moon," which is a smaller role, was it always in anticipation of "Breaking Dawn Part 2"? Now that it's a bigger part, finally?
No, not at all. Because you didn't know what the scripts would look like for the other films. When that first one came along for me, it was partly because I have a daughter who was really into the "Twilight" books. And I knew how important it was for her and other people her age. So, that was kind of exciting to kind of be in something that was such a big deal for a lot of people.
If she asks you, do you give her spoilers?
Oh, I don't want to spoil it for her! I want her to experience it.
Does that cause friction?
Well, when I first got involved, I thought she would be really excited. But, actually, she was upset, initially.
Because it was her thing. You don't want your parents taking over something that is your thing. And that's part of what defines you.
There's a lot more action in this movie for you.
Yeah, there's one particularly big, sort of climactic action sequence. that I'm involved in.
Have you done a lot of that?
Well, surprisingly, I've done a lot of that.
You know, I always forget about your more action-orientated roles, like "Underworld." Your career fascinates me.
Yeah, it depends on what people know me from, really. For people who maybe only know me from "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon" and things like that, I suppose it would be sort of surprising. But, you know, there's the whole "Underworld" franchise and "Tron: Legacy" and all kinds of things.
Did you enjoy your "Twilight" experience? I only ask because it seems like people really care about the personal lives of the actors involved.
Well, I've just sort of flitted in and out of it. You know, I haven't obviously been in it as much as the other guys. I think it's had much less impact, in a way. And, also, I look so different in the films than how I look just walking down the street, I don't get recognized from them, really, in the same way as the others would, I suppose. So, I've been able to just really enjoy my experience without having to deal with any of the slightly more difficult aspects of it.
Again, your career fascinates me. Do you make a conscious decision go back and forth between something like "Frost/Nixon" and something like "Tron"?
No, it's not as methodical as anything like that. I suppose my rule of thumb is that I want to do things that I would like to go and see as well. And I have a pretty wide taste in terms of what I like to watch. So, I suppose if anything, I just tried to focus on giving myself as many options as possible. I mean, the part of acting that I really enjoy is trying different things and the variety of playing different characters and transforming and stuff. I suppose what comes along with that, if you're lucky, you do get to play a lot of different characters in different types of films. As well as plays: I do theatre, film and TV. So, it's not planned like, "Oh, well, I've done this so now I'm going to do something very different." Fortunately, a lot of very different things tend to come my way. So it kind of seems like the variety takes care of itself, really.
If you're walking down the street and you see a stranger approaching you, do you know already what they're going to ask about?
[Laugh] No. In the whole, not. If I've got a beard at the time, then it might be "Underworld" or "Unthinkable" or something like that. But, if I'm clean shaven, then it's usually going to be Tony Blair or "Frost/Nixon" or something like that. And if they're under the age of 14, then it might be "Twilight."
So, I think we've just gotten to the bottom of this mustache situation.
That's right! With a mustache, I've never done anything with a mustache -- so, I get away with it.
You work so much. Do you actually have free time?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I enjoy working and I love doing what I do. I do find it quite hard to say "no" to things that come up if they're, you know, good. But, often, a lot of things come out around the same time, so it makes it look like I've been doing more than I actually have. For instance, this film, I finished shooting about two years ago. So, no, I have plenty of free time. But I get very restless. I love being creative and if I'm not acting, I'm developing something or writing something or coming up with ideas for something. So, I like to keep myself busy.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.