Michael Sheen has many thoughts about the challenges and joys of raising kids.
The actor has two daughters ― 21-year-old Lily, with Kate Beckinsale, and 4-month-old Lyra, with Anna Lundberg. Over the years, he’s opened up in interviews about work-life balance, discipline, co-parenting and more.
In honor of his birthday, here are 11 quotes about parenthood from Sheen.
On Baby Names
“Originally, Kate and I were thinking of calling her Ruby, but when she was born she just didn’t look like a Ruby. We liked names from previous generations and were thinking about Lily but we weren’t sure. Then there was a knock on the door and someone was delivering flowers ― they were lilies, so we went, there you go, it’s Lily.”
On Parenting Priorities
“I think being a parent is the most challenging thing you do. That’s why we’re here. It’s at the heart of what it is to be a human being. It’s the ultimate experience because it questions everything about who you are. But it’s difficult. My job takes me away from my daughter, Lily, a lot, so when I am with her the time is really important. When I’m filming, I try to speak to Lily every day and let her know that I’m thinking of her and hopefully stay a presence in her life. Career-wise, lots of things are happening that I’ve always wanted to happen and I want Lily to have as an example a parent who is enjoying their work and is passionate about their work but at the same time I don’t want it to be something that takes me away from her too much.”
“Breaking up with Kate was a shock. The hardest thing was having to deal with it in the midst of so much media attention. I wasn’t used to that and I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of it. For a while I thought I was going off the rails. But it hasn’t made me more guarded. I think you just do whatever you need to do for your children, don’t you? We’ve just been very lucky that we’ve all got on very well, and that’s great for Lily.”
On Becoming A Dad For The Second Time
“I left 20 years between them because I wasn’t sure. [Laughs] I wanted to try it out first.”
On His Approaching To Fatherhood
“I do spoil her terribly because I’m away a lot and because I don’t get to live with her. But, fortunately, she’s got really good sense. She’s aware that she’s very lucky and has a lot of material comfort, so she’s very good about regulating herself. Hopefully, I’m a good mixture of being disciplined and structured as well as spoiling her!”
On The Parenting Now vs. 20 Years Ago
“Now, you just put your car seat in the car and then you clink in the seatbelt. It used to be you just wrestled with a seatbelt like a bear, like Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Revenant.’ Now it’s easy.”
On Picking Up His Daughter With His ‘Underworld’ Hair
“The worst one was when I went to pick up my daughter from her ice-skating lesson, and I turned up like that with the weird and long hair and everything. It just so happens that the Beckhams were at the ice skating rink .... Victoria was sort of friendly with my daughter’s mother, so she saw ‘him’ turn up and taking Lily away, and she called security. She thought some strange vagrant had come to steal children ― like I was the child catcher from ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.’”
On Moving For His Family
“I got my green card last Christmas and gave up commuting between London and Los Angeles. I like LA. It’s grown on me and it’s my home for now, but I’m here because Lily’s here. I wouldn’t choose to live in LA if it wasn’t for my daughter. Britain is my home and that’s where all my friends and family are. That’s my culture and my drive, and that’s where I would choose to be. So once Lily’s older and is able to move around, I’ll probably return to the UK.”
On Raising A Child In The Age Of Climate Change
“As a dad to a 14-year-old daughter, I worry about what climate change means for her future and her children’s future. Extreme flooding, colder, longer winters and harsher summers; it’s causing chaos in the developed world and it’s threatening children’s very survival in poorer countries.”
On His Daughter’s Potential Acting Career
“Kate’s father was a famous actor; Kate is a famous actor. Lily has grown up with acting as the family business. I think the surprise was when she realized that I was an actor. I don’t think she quite knew what I did. It’s been quite a revelation to her over the last few years: ’Oh, actually Daddy’s quite well known as well! Obviously, if your child wants to do the same thing as you, you’re aware of all the negative things and don’t want them to have to experience that, but her path is her path. I just want her to be able to do something that she’s passionate about.”
“For all the ups and downs of parenthood, all it takes is for my daughter Lyra to look at me and smile, and all is well with the world. It’s been a while since I’ve been a new parent ― my other daughter, Lily, is 20 ― but it’s really exciting. I think it will be easier this time round as so much has changed. All it takes Lily is for her to send me a text to let me know that she’s still alive. Given how much I worry, the best thing is when they can make me feel like everything is OK.”