Actor Michael Sheen is really internalizing the angelic nature of his Good Omens character Aziraphale. He has announced that from now on, his earnings from acting projects will go toward funding a variety of social projects.
“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,” Sheen tells The Big Issue. “I don’t want to just be someone who enjoys the fruits of what other people have done and then pull the drawbridge up.”
His work toward this mission began in 2011, after what he calls a “turning point” in his life. The actor performed in Doing The Passion, a 72-hour National Theatre production in his hometown, Port Talbot.
Over the course of his stay he got close with the surrounding community and learned about the organizations doing charity work for children in the town. However, when he returned for a visit a few months later, several of the charity groups had shut down due to a lack of funding.
“I realized the difference between a child’s life being a little bit better or not was ultimately a small amount of funding. And I wanted to help those people,” Sheen says. “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 funneled his money into the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff, which was on the brink of cancellation. The Welsh actor sold his U.K. and U.S. homes, using the funds to keep the event alive.
“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,” Sheen says.
“So I put all my money into keeping it going...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 realized I could do this kind of thing and, if I can keep earning money it’s not going to ruin me,” Sheen continues. “I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor.”