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Image / Living / Culture

Michael Sheen is now a ‘not-for-profit actor’ after selling 2 of his houses for charity


By Sarah Finnan
07th Dec 2021

IMDb

Michael Sheen is now a ‘not-for-profit actor’ after selling 2 of his houses for charity

Michael Sheen has branded himself a “not-for-profit actor”, with the Hollywood star saying that he’d rather use his work to help others than for his own financial gain.

Crediting the Homeless World Cup with changing his outlook on life, the Welsh actor was responsible for helping to organise the event back in 2019. An event that uses football to support people who are homeless and inspire them to change their own lives, it was due to take place in Cardiff that year. However, funds soon ran dry and the project was ultimately at risk of being cancelled. 

“I had committed to helping to organise that and then suddenly, with not long to go, there was no money. I had to make a decision – I could walk away from it, and it wouldn’t happen. I thought, I’m not going to let that happen. So, I put all my money into keeping it going.” Taking it upon himself to ensure that the event could go ahead as planned, Sheen very generously decided to put two of his homes up for sale and use the proceeds to fund the £2 million they were short. 

“I had a house in America and a house here [in the UK] and I put those up and just did whatever it took,” he told the Big Issue for their “Letter to My Younger Self” series. “It was scary and incredibly stressful. 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.” Not content at leaving it there, the actor has since pledged to continue using the money he earns from acting to fund more projects.

“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.” While this is the first time that Sheen has made such a grand gesture, he’s long been focused on more charitable pursuits and has worked with a number of different charities and social enterprises throughout his career. In fact, the BBC reports that he’s already pledged £50,000 over five years to fund a bursary to help Welsh students go to Oxford University. 

The real turning point came after a 72-hour production of The Passion through the streets of his hometown Port Talbot in 2011 though. “I got to know people and organisations within my hometown that I didn’t know existed,” he said of the experience. “Little groups who were trying to help young carers, 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.

“I [came] back to visit three or four months later [to] find out that funding had gone and that organisation didn’t exist anymore. I realised 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.” It’s actually what prompted him to move back to Wales. 

Then in 2017, he set up the End High Cost Credit Alliance to help people find more affordable ways of borrowing money. Always committed to learning and bettering himself, Sheen’s generosity has not gone unnoticed.