Michael Sheen went all-in to portray “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” host Chris Tarrant, whom he called one of the most recognizable faces in British broadcasting, but the actor says Tarrant himself was less than thrilled at the casting.
“I didn’t meet Tarrant until I was going to an event in London not that long ago — way after we’d finished,” Sheen said at the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday. “I was having a photograph taken, and I hear this voice going ‘You look nothing like me!'”
“I turn around and there’s Chris Tarrant,” he continued. “Who is already this incredibly recognizable face and voice, but now because I’ve been watching him so much, is like a ghost appeared in real life. Or like an alien.”
Sheen plays Tarrant in the three-part AMC miniseries “Quiz,” which stars “Succession’s” Matthew Macfadyen and “Fleabag’s” Sian Clifford as Major Charles Ingram and Diana Ingram, the husband and wife duo who were accused to conspiring to cheat on the U.K. version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
Sheen said part of his process, aside from the extremely convincing hair and makeup, was to go back and watch as many episodes of “Millionaire” and footage of Tarrant as he could. He also watched the specific Charles Ingram episodes “over and over and over and over and over again.”
“The more I watched those episodes, the more I realized how brilliant Tarrant was,” Sheen said. “I think we know he was brilliant at it because he was such a huge success and he was so loved doing it, but watching it really forensically and to see just what he’s doing there — I mean, he’s kinda running the show.”
“He’s sort of got all the timings,” Sheen said. “He’s sort of like this extraordinary conductor. I had a newfound respect for what he’s doing there and how he made that work.”
Sheen said he and Tarrant had a “nice little chat” after that initial encounter but he isn’t sure whether or not the host had a chance to watch the series yet.
If not, he can watch the show when it premieres on AMC on Monday, May 25 on AMC.