Acclaimed Welsh actor Michael Sheen has become a focus of fan adoration after his turn as the angel Aziraphale in Good Omens.
A month ago, I might’ve said that Sheen was an unlikely pick to be dating the entirety of the Internet. With a storied stage and screen career that stretches across the decades, he’s the kind of prestige performer you expect to see showing up in award show profiles, not the latest meme.
But Sheen’s nuanced and thoughtful embodiment of Aziraphale in the Amazon Prime Video adaptation of Good Omens means that he crossed a sort of fandom cultural Rubicon. He’s ours now. We are all in a budding relationship with Michael Sheen.
Seemingly overnight after the adaptation dropped, the 30-year-old Good Omens fandom (with its roots in the beloved book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) exploded with thousands of new members, excitement, and activity. Fan art abounds; it’s impossible to keep up with the stream of fanfiction; cosplayers are hunting down the ideal pair of dark sunglasses. I’ve never seen anything quite like the enthusiasm being generated right now in certain online pockets.
Throughout this frenzy, fixation on Sheen’s performance as Aziraphale has risen to the top. There’s certainly no lack of love for Sheen’s co-star David Tennant, who plays the demon Crowley with flair and panache, but the Internet has dated Tennant before. As a veteran of properties like Harry Potter and Jessica Jones, and because of his Tenth Doctor status, Tennant is an old flame to web denizens.
I expected the Good Omens fandom to 90% David Tennant thirst but it’s actually 90% Michael Sheen thirst.
And I mean I’m not disappointed
— Joshua 🍷 (@thoscheitea) June 9, 2019
Sheen, however, is a newfound delight for many in fandom despite his long-established status, with admirers brought in via Good Omens now out to get acquainted with his body of work. What’s happened with Michael Sheen is a perfect storm of circumstance, the kind of fan-created alchemical recipe for devotion that’s impossible to replicate or PR firms would be first on the line.
It began when Sheen made Aziraphale a complex, multi-faceted character with a performance so convincing he disappears entirely into the role. Aziraphale is equal parts a being of soft, pure love and hard-edged stubbornness, an angelic hedonist, naive and calculating, repressed and indulgent.
— Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) June 9, 2019
A dozen mixed emotions can flit across Sheen’s face in a single reaction from Aziraphale. That got our attention. We began googling.
I think this is one of the best, gayest, fluffiest, “Yes Homo” moments in the entire series. god bless Michael Sheen & whoever created this gif. RT if you’ve stumbled into a gay bar with chaotic energy and been greeted like this: pic.twitter.com/0z3rvhAfsw
— THE southern pansy (@orchidlocked) June 16, 2019
Add to this a dash of Sheen’s joyful energy in promoting the idea that Aziraphale is in love with Crowley and that Good Omens is a love story as much as a buddy comedy, and he becomes the celebrity avatar of fandom’s penchant for the odd couple angel/demon pairing.
The ship is at perhaps peak popularity, dominating Tumblr’s official fandom-metrics tracking site for the last three weeks straight, with Aziraphale/Crowley, or “Ineffable Husbands,” as they’ve come to be called, and Good Omens receiving the most attention on the social blogging network.
those are just facts pic.twitter.com/x6JARBvPTy
— marine is in a bad mood (@TearsOf10th) June 1, 2019
Stir in a pinch of Sheen good-naturedly interacting with fans on Twitter, retweeting all manner of fan art and, yes, those emerging memes. It’s an endearing delight when an actor seems to “get it” and doesn’t shy away from fandom interpretation and dedication.
One example of a recent Sheen retweet:
— Rachel X (@Kiddo_hah) June 13, 2019
OK, one more:
ok bye pic.twitter.com/MnJjwtWeTD
— gogonata | good omens ♡ (@aehinata) June 11, 2019
Wait … just … one … more.
— расчехляй фрамугу (@pendeltur1) June 17, 2019
Finally, Sheen has a variegated catalog of work to explore. It’s exciting to fans eager for representation that he has a history of playing LGBTQ+ characters with sensitivity and style, dating back to 1997’s Wilde and 2003’s Bright Young Things. He seems more than glad to continue to contribute his support herein. Returning to the idea of an actor “getting it,” it’s evident he understands how much Aziraphale, Crowley, and Good Omens mean to many in terms of identity.
— ɢᴏɢᴏ ʀᴏᴡ || GOOD OMENS (@AZlRAPHALE_) June 17, 2019
michael sheen: pic.twitter.com/RCCmEx2Ghb
— sarah wodav (@artemoriendi) June 9, 2019
There’s a Michael Sheen role to watch for every conceivable mood, from his much-lauded performances in films like Frost/Nixon and The Queen or on TV in Masters of Sex, to the winking camp he brings to genre movies like Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, Tron: Legacy, and The Twilight Saga.
Sheen is the sort of actor who, chameleon-like, sublimates himself in the part; you don’t realize until you’re dating Michael Sheen and excited to watch everything that he’s been in that he’s in absolutely everything. You may not have recognized him, because he never looks the same way twice.
Brown: The same actor who played Lucian in “Underworld” is Aziraphale in “Good Omens.”
Me: No. Naw. No. Can’t. No way. Uh-uh. Nah. Unpossible.
Michael Sheen: ACTING POWERS ACTIVATE, YO! pic.twitter.com/7G4OkqUcVx
— K.B. Spangler (@KBSpangler) June 14, 2019
The four Michael Sheens of the apocalypse pic.twitter.com/QfRQIUXZaL
— Emily 🏳️🌈 (@machxaut) June 9, 2019
Sometimes, Michael Sheen will tear your aching heart from your body, heal it, then carefully return it to your keeping.
Then Aziraphale it shall be. And may flights of angels sing her to her rest. Please tell her she is so loved. So, so loved.
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) June 13, 2019
Other times, you will know only happiness with a man who appears thrilled at the emergence of a “Michael Sheen as Sheeps and Goats” Twitter account.
Oh this is quite, quite brilliant. https://t.co/0Ls8ddFb0Y
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) June 17, 2019
I was more going for goat…but I’ll take it! https://t.co/1ed2xw9xRz
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) June 13, 2019
He even gave us access to his official Good Omens playlist, if you needed some music to set the mood for your upcoming date with Michael Sheen.
Link to my Spotify Apocalypse playlist here – https://t.co/FYv9U030wh
— michael sheen (@michaelsheen) June 6, 2019
It doesn’t hurt that Sheen’s current incarnation has him sporting a silvery lion’s mane of curls, his look for the role of nefarious lawyer Roland Blum on The Good Fight. That’s the Michael Sheen on the Good Omens press tour one encounters when one goes googling.
“Everyday with David is heaven on earth.” – Michael Sheen 😭❤️ pic.twitter.com/PBrPPnDlc4
— cumberbatchlives (@cumberbatchlive) June 13, 2019
As our infatuation with Michael Sheen deepens, he joins the ranks of past fandom boyfriends like partner-in-apocalypse-prevention Tennant and across-the-pond fellows Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Benedict Cumberbatch, not to mention our more recent flings with Oscar Isaac, Sebastian Stan, Riz Ahmed, and the Chris quartet.
I think this really might be it for me, though. I’m settling down with Michael Sheen for the long haul. It’s not every boyfriend who giddily retweets renderings of their character as a cat. When you know, you know.
— Mandible Pinklady (@ACCOX_artist) June 15, 2019
(image: Amazon Prime Video, Jeff Spicer / Stringer for Getty Images)
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