Michael Sheen says it’s ‘hard to accept’ non-Welsh actors in Welsh roles

Actor Michael Sheen has defended his comments suggesting Welsh characters should be played by Welsh actors.

Sheen, who was born in Newport, South Wales, has starred in a raft of various roles throughout his career.

The 54-year-old has previously played Edinburgh-born former prime minister Tony Blair, as well as English broadcasters David Frost and Chris Tarrant.

Sheen told the Telegraph “it’s very hard” to accept people who are not Welsh playing Welsh characters.

“Seeing people playing Welsh characters who are not Welsh, I find, it’s very hard for me to accept that,” he said.

“Not particularly on a point of principle, but just knowing that that’s not the case.”

Sheen said he had confronted his thoughts on which roles he feels actors can play after working on his new drama, Best Interests, where he portrays the parent of a child with cerebral palsy.

He said: “That’s a very different end of the spectrum, but a part like Richard III is such a great character to play, it would be sad to think that that character is no longer available or appropriate for actors to play who don’t have disabilities, but that’s because I’m just not used to it yet, I suppose.

“Because I fully accept that I’m not going to be playing Othello any time soon.

“Again, it’s not particularly a point of principle, but personally, I haven’t seen many actors who have come from quite privileged backgrounds being particularly compelling as people from working-class backgrounds.

“If you haven’t experienced something, the extreme example is, well, if you haven’t murdered someone, can you play a murderer?”

The actor has set up his own production company, Red Seam, with Sherlock producer Bethan Jones with the aim of telling more Welsh stories.

“You can shout about how bad it is, but if you want to see something be different then do it, you know?” he said.

He has since defended his comments, saying they were “not the end of the world”.

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“A comment about having heard a lot of dodgy Welsh accents from non Welsh actors is not the end of the world,” Sheen Tweeted.

“It’s not about principle it’s about being convincing. And the money people not thinking Welsh actors can lead shows a lot of the time.”

Source : Sky News