One of the things the actor Michael Sheen likes about being famous is that he can get in touch with other famous people who he likes and tell them that he likes them, especially on social media. “It’s like totally platonic dating in a way,” he says, his voice rich and rolling like the Welsh hills. Most of these exchanges, and the ensuing meet-ups when they happen, go well. David Lynch, Sheen’s all-time favourite director, was one: “Oh God, as a David Lynch fan, he was everything you could possibly want.” Terry Gilliam was “this mad old uncle or something, so that was great”.
Then there was Laurie Anderson, avant garde artist, composer and partner of Lou Reed. “Now,” says Sheen, “when I was 11 or 12 one of the first singles I ever bought was O Superman. I’ve played it all my life to people, it used to drive them mad, and I’ve made my daughter listen to it, so she has a weird thing about it now. It’s had a huge effect on me.”
Sheen - Opening - Velvet - Underground - Exhibition
Not long ago, Sheen was at the opening of a Velvet Underground exhibition in New York (he is friends with John Cale, the Welsh multi-instrumentalist in the band, of course he is). Anderson was there, too, so Cale introduced them and Sheen launched into a particularly breathless version of the gush above. “And I could see her just glaze and go ‘Uh-huh,’ and she left,” he recalls. “I felt terrible, and I remember John turning to me and saying, ‘Well, you did better than I did.’”
Sheen, who today has a semi-tame beard flecked with white and hair that curls into cherubic gunmetal ringlets, roars a big throaty laugh that fills the London hotel room where we sit. “But it was my fault, she must get that...
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