Welsh actor Michael Sheen — BAFTA, Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominee — says that he will donate the majority of his future earnings to charities and the needy.
What are the details?
In an interview with the Big Issue, which was published on Sunday, 52-year-old Sheen said that he has turned himself into a "not-for-profit" actor and detailed the "turning point" that prompted him to make big financial changes.
“I’ve realized in the last few years that I want to be one of those people who help other people the way so many people helped me," he told the British outlet. "I don’t want to just be someone who enjoys the fruits of what other people have done and then pull the drawbridge up and go, well, I’m all right, Jack, I’ve had a nice time. I’m at the stage of my life and career where I have a window of opportunity that will probably never be this good again. I’m able to get people in a room, I can open doors. I don’t want to look back and think, I could have done something with that platform. I could have done something with that money.”
Sheen explained that during 2011, while taking part in National Theatre Wales' production of "The Passion," he was eventually moved to an epiphany that would soon change his outlook on his blessings.
“That project involved the entire town and it was a big awakening for me," he admitted. "I got to know people and organizations within my hometown that I didn’t know existed. Little groups who were trying to help young careers, who had just enough funding to make a tiny difference to a kid’s life by putting on one night a week where they could get out and go bowling or watch a film and just be a kid.”
He said that after the production ended, he carried on with his way of life, but several months later he had a brutal wake-up call when he visited his hometown to find that the funding for the social programs had all but dried up.
“That stuff doesn’t make the news, but it makes a massive difference to kids’ lives," Sheen explained. "I realized the difference between that child’s life being a little bit better or not was ultimately a small amount of funding. And I wanted to help those people. I didn’t just want to be a patron or a supportive voice, I wanted to actually do more than that. That’s when I thought, I need to go back and live in Wales again.”
In 2019, Sheen took the initiative to help organize Cardiff's Homeless World Cup — and then took his philanthropy a big step further and ended up selling off his homes in both Wales and in the United States.
“Suddenly, with not long to go, there was no money," he said. "I had to make a decision – I could walk away from it, and it wouldn’t happen. And all those people from all around the world who were banking on coming to have this extraordinary experience, maybe a life-changing experience, wouldn’t have it. I thought, I’m not going to let that happen. So I put all my money into keeping it going. I had a house in America and a house here and I put those up and just did whatever it took."
He added, "It was scary and incredibly stressful. And I’ll be paying for it for a long time. But when I came out the other side, I realised I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money, it’s not going to ruin me. There was something quite liberating about going, all right, I’ll put large amounts of money into this or that, because I’ll be able to earn it back again. I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor."