The ‘Guardian’s’ Rebecca Nicholson’s fascinating interview with the actor Michael Sheen is exactly the kind of reading needed during coronavirus lockdown; he reveals previously unknown details about bizarre encounters with Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng Murdoch
It’s hard to find stories to read right now in newspapers that don’t relate to coronavirus and it’s even harder to find compelling interviews that don’t feature bleeding hearts banging on about what good they’re doing (when they’re just actually craving a return to their glory days gaining acres of Alexa Chung-type press acreage).
Gone are the days of the great, the good and the not-so-good actually revealing something we didn’t already know and instead, it seems, COVID-19 has reduced The Telegraph, for example, to unimaginatively asking the chef Jason Atherton: “Powder or piste?” (His 50/50 chance answer: The latter – for those of you actually interested in this kind of inane drivel).
Today, however, the Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson pulled a blinder with what one reader described as a “marvellous portrait” of the actor best known for repeatedly playing Tony Blair, Michael Sheen. Though ‘Two Tony’s’ – according to an individual who left a comment online afterwards – “sounds thoroughly uncomfortable,” Nicholson coaxed her subject into revealing amongst other things that Wendi Deng Murdoch once asked him to “dress like [Blair]” and “make [his] hair look like him” so she could “bring [him] out and surprise [Blair].” Please don’t throw up whilst considering that rather scary image. Thankfully there’s no mention as to whether Sheen enquired about the alleged extra-marital relations that went on between the ‘real’ Tony and the now ex-Mrs Murdoch, as there would be a detail that’d certainly be nearly as off-putting as what allegedly went on between the wife of one of the most loathed premier’s in history and Carole Caplin (what on earth became of her?) in a shower in Downing Street.
Sheen, a man “fascinated by Blair’s legacy,” but someone who didn’t meet the “wary of [him]” ex-PM until after he’d already played him twice, also shares snippets of an encounter with Rupert Murdoch. Of it, the ex of Kate Beckinsale recalls: “There was a very peculiar moment with Murdoch. I remember standing looking out at the view, and then I realised that Murdoch was standing next to me. It was quite a hot day. I just remember seeing a little bead of black dye, running down his face. I thought, oh, Ozymandias [two sonnets by Percy Shelley about the decline of rulers with their pretensions to greatness].”
Moving on to how he is “astonished” by our current Prime Minister, Sheen observes: “It’s very hard to trust someone who can go so easily in different ways.” Nicholson then concludes the interview with a suggestion: “Part of me hopes [Michael Sheen] might one day take the idea of Michael Sheen MP seriously, after all.” Superb.