Michael Sheen describes transforming into Chris Tarrant for cheating drama Quiz
Michael Sheen has said he shies away from using prosthetics when playing real people because they can be distracting.
The Welsh star will next be seen playing Chris Tarrant in a series based on the infamous Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheating scandal.
Quiz stars Matthew Macfadyen as Major Charles Ingram and Fleabag’s Sian Clifford as his wife Diana.
Dubbed the “Coughing Major”, Ingram was found guilty along with his wife and their accomplice, Tecwen Whittock, played by Michael Jibson, of cheating their way to the top prize in 2001.
The trio maintained their innocence but were convicted of deception following a high-profile 2003 trial.
Describing turning into Tarrant for the role, Sheen, who has famously played Tony Blair, David Frost and Brian Clough, said: “You wear a bald cap and then put the wig on top of it, so it’s quite hot, but that’s just brilliant work by the makeup and hair department.
“And then choosing the particular shade of blonde that we want, so it’s not just getting exactly what he is, it’s making it work with me as well.
“I’ve got these weird bleached eyebrows now that makes me look a bit strange with my normal hair but making that look like it’s natural… it’s all of that.
“You can sort of go from one extreme – how much do you try to look like the person?
“How much do you start adding things and sticking things on? My tendency is to try and do as little as possible, not add too much, so you do what you can with your own hair, do what you can with your face.
“I shy away from prosthetics and all of that because I always feel like it draws your eye to how different you are.
“I’ve seen a few things with false noses and all that and I’m drawn to that; and even if it looks really good, you don’t want to be sat there going, ‘Oh he looks really like him in this’. You want to forget about that.
“It’s been the same with Blair and Frost and Clough – obviously people are going to go, ‘Right, how much is he like him?’ But you want people to forget about that really quickly and just get involved in the story.
“You don’t want to keep reminding people that you’re not the person you’re playing, even if you might look like them. You want them to go, ‘Right, this is the character’, and if you can do that then I think you’re sort of accomplished.”
Sheen said playing Tarrant gave him a new appreciation of his skill as the host of the hit ITV show.
He said: “In watching him on the show – I mean, I always enjoyed the show and I always enjoyed him on the show – did give me a real respect for what a brilliant job he does on it.
“It’s not just him presenting it, he’s stage managing that thing. Watching it over and over again and then actually doing it, it’s so amazing what the music and the lighting does.
“I watched the version of it before they did that music and that lighting. It’s called Cash Mountain and all the lights were up on the audience and there was no dramatic lighting or music; the theme music was done by Pete Waterman and was all jolly and Tarrant comes on, there’s no suspense, no tension.
“The game is exactly the same, there’s not much different. But the brilliance of going, ‘You know what, we’re going to make it really over the top tense’. And you’d think, ‘Nah, it’s too much’. But then you watch it and you go, ‘Oh my God, that is genius’.”
Quiz will begin on ITV on April 13.