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Why Austen From Home Again Looks So Familiar

"Home Again," released in 2017, is the debut film by director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who also wrote its screenplay. Despite Meyers-Shyer's lack of experience behind the camera — her prior credits are all for acting roles during her childhood — "Home Again" featured none other than Reese Witherspoon in its lead role.

In the film, Witherspoon portrays a woman named Alice Kinney, nearing a divorce from her husband and living in her late father's home in Los Angeles. One night Alice meets three young filmmakers at a bar, and she ultimately decides to let them live with her in her father's sizable house. The story chronicles their filmmaking struggles, Alice's attempts at starting an interior design business, and budding romance between Alice and one of the filmmakers. Austen, Alice's soon-to-be-ex-husband, inevitably reappears in Alice's life at the worst possible moment, disapproving of her burgeoning relationship with the filmmaking trio.

If Austen looks familiar, that's because he's portrayed by Michael Sheen, whose credits are comprised of a substantial number of major supporting parts — or outright leading roles — in projects noteworthy for one reason or another.

Michael Sheen portrayed real-life UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in The Queen

To some audiences, Michael Sheen is inseparable from Tony Blair, the one-time Prime Minster of England. That's primarily due to his portrayal fo Blair in "The Queen," which was nominated for six Oscar awards, one of which it won, at the ceremony following its 2006 release (via IMDB). Sheen was tasked with acting opposite Helen Mirren, whose portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II earned the film its Oscar win.

While for some performers, keeping up with Helen Mirren might be a thankless task, Sheen's performance netted him admission to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, bestowed by the real Queen Elizabeth II. While Sheen ultimately returned the award, it nevertheless stands as testament to the quality of his performance.

That said, "The Queen" wasn't the first or last film in which Sheen portrayed Tony Blair. Sheen took on the very same role in both "The Deal" in 2003 and "The Special Relationship" in 2010.

Sheen was the titular David Frost in Frost/Nixon

Michael Sheen once again portrayed a historical figure in "Frost/Nixon," which itself was nominated for five Oscar awards (via IMDB). The balance of the film's runtime is dedicated to a recreation of a real, historic series of televised interviews of Richard Nixon by a talk show host and journalist named David Frost. In the film, Frank Langella portrays Nixon and Michael Sheen is David Frost.

Though the actual series of televised interviews technically serves as the source material for "Frost/Nixon," the story in its dramatized form was first a stage play before it was turned into a film. Michael Sheen, in fact, first portrayed David Frost on stage — a performance the New York Times described as "excellent" — so his role in the film was not his first time around the block, so to speak. The film was also not the last time Michael Sheen would portray a historical figure in a critically-acclaimed biopic.

Michael Sheen starred as William Masters in Masters of Sex

Michael Sheen once again dramatized a historic figure as the star of Showtime biopic "Masters of Sex." However, whereas his roles in "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon" were limited to the length of a single feature film, "Masters of Sex" was a TV series that lasted for 46 episodes over the course of four seasons. That means that Sheen — even though he portrayed Tony Blair in three separate films — has devoted far more time to Dr. William Masters than any other personage.

The real-life Dr. William Masters worked alongside Dr. Virginia Johnson (portrayed by Lizzy Caplan in the series) to study sex and sexuality. Their work began in the 1950s, so the application of a rigorous scientific framework to the study of sex was a breaking of boundaries of sorts at the time. "Masters of Sex" chronicles their research starting in the 1950s and continuing into the 1960s, as first recounted in the biography of the same name published in 2009. 

The series was nominated for at least one Emmy award each year it was on the air, and Sheen himself was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in 2014 (via IMDB).

Sheen starred in the TV adaptation of Good Omens

"Good Omens" was originally a novel written by "Discworld" series author Terry Pratchett and literary fantasy author Neil Gaiman. The book is something of a comedic account of the End of Days as prophesied in the Bible, starring an uptight angel named Aziraphale and an unruly demon named Crowley. Despite their opposing roles, the two beings have existed since the beginning of time, thus developing a bond with one another. Upon the advent of the apocalypse, then, the unlikely pair happens into defending the Earth they've come to know and love over the course of their 6000+ years of existence.

In 2019, "Good Omens" was adapted into a TV series, in which David Tennant portrays Crowley and Michael Sheen is Aziraphale. Rounding out its ensemble cast are the likes of Nick Offerman as US Ambassador Thaddeus Dowling, Jon Hamm as the archangel Gabriel, Frances McDormand as the voice of none other than the literal Christian God, among others. 

"Good Omens" was nominated for three Emmy awards in 2019 (via IMDB).

Michael Sheen was a serial killer on Prodigal Son

In 2019, Michael Sheen began portraying one of the central characters of Fox cop drama "Prodigal Son." The series stars Tom Payne as NYPD cop Malcolm Bright, whose ability to understand the motivations of murderers acts almost like a superpower during relevant criminal investigations. 

Part of his aptitude for getting into the mind of a killer, however, comes courtesy of the fact that his father, Martin Whitly, played by Michael Sheen, is the real deal. Martin, then, is imprisoned in an asylum for his serial killing spree, but also ends up acting as a consultant to his son when a killer copying some of Martin's methods surfaces under Tom's jurisdiction.

Speaking about the role to Entertainment Weekly, Sheen said, "The version of Martin that he allows people to see is such a tiny portion of him. It has an oversized place in the world because it's how he interacts with the world. Even before he was put in prison — when he was still actively pursuing his addiction to killing — the reason he was so good at it was because he was able to develop a persona that put people at ease, that made people like him and not suspect what he was doing. That is a construct he has created. What is actually going on for him is very different."

"Prodigal Son" ultimately aired for 33 episodes over the course of two seasons before its cancellation in 2021.