Welsh stage actor Michael Sheen said this week he will donate the majority of his future earnings to charities and those in need.
In an interview published Sunday by The Big Issue, the 52-year-old Sheen said he is now a “not-for-profit” actor who will no longer accumulate most of his wealth for himself.
“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 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, ‘We’ll, 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,” Sheen continued. “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.’”
Although he said in a BBC documentary he is not a Christian, Sheen told the British outlet he reached the “turning point” during his famous 72-hour production, “The Passion,” in 2011.
It was then, Sheen explained, that he had an awakening about his own blessings.
“That project involved the entire town and it was a big awakening for me,” he said. “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.”
Sheen explained during a 2012 interview with The Guardian that his grand-scale play, “The Passion,” which took place outside and all throughout the Welsh town of Port Talbot, was an overwhelming undertaking loosely based on the Gospel accounts of the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry and His crucifixion.
The theater actor said the biblical story resonates with him because “it’s about what community represents, like how do you treat the people in your culture who are at their most needy and most vulnerable who are not necessarily, obviously contributing anything obvious to that society and that culture at that moment because of the circumstance they’re in.”
“Do you just abandon them?” Sheen continued. “Do you ignore them? Do you let them go? And is it survival of the fittest? Or do you come together and help each other because who knows who’s going to be the next person, who knows when you will be of need.”
When the monumental undertaking was over, the actor found out the well of funding for social programs in Port Talbot had nearly run dry.
“That stuff doesn’t make the news, but it makes a massive difference to kids’ lives,” he told The Big Issue. “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 sold his homes in Wales and in the U.S.
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