Sting's 1996 album, Mercury Falling debuted strongly, but it dropped quickly on the charts. Yet, he reached the Top 40 with two singles the same year with "You Still Touch Me" (June) and "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" (December). During this period, he was also recording music for the upcoming Disney film Kingdom of the Sun, which went on to be reworked into The Emperor's New Groove. The film went through drastic overhauls and plot changes, many of which were documented by Sting's wife, Trudie Styler. She captured the moment Sting was called by Disney who then informed him that his songs would not be used in the final film. The story was put into a final product: The Sweatbox, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Disney currently holds the rights to the film and will not grant its release. That same year Sting also released a little-known CD-Rom called "All This Time", which was well ahead of its time in providing music, commentary and custom computer features describing Sting and his music from his perspective.
The Emperor's New Groove soundtrack was released, however, with complete songs from the previous version of the film, which included Rascall Flatts and Shawn Colvin. This is seen by many as a move on Disney's part to soothe the relationship with Sting and to keep open the door for future projects. The final single used to promote the film was "My Funny Friend and Me".
Sting also performed a duet country cover version of "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" on Toby Keith's 1997 Dream Walkin' album.
Sting made a (partial) comeback with the September 1999 album Brand New Day, including the Top 40 hits "Brand New Day" and "Desert Rose" (Top 10). The album went Triple Platinum by January 2001. In 2000, he won Grammy Awards for Brand New Day and the song of the same name. At the awards ceremony, he performed "Desert Rose" with Cheb Mami. For his performance, the Arab-American Institute Foundation gave him the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Award. However, Sting received some strong criticism for appearing in a Jaguar advertisement using Desert Rose" as its backing track, particularly as he was a notable environmentalist. Sting has countered this accusation by pointing to how important it is to maintain one's high profile in the notoriously difficult and generally domestic-biased American music market, the advertisement a means of doing so.
In February 2001, he added another Grammy to his collection. His song "After The Rain Has Fallen" made it into the Top 40. His next project was to record a live album at his Tuscan villa, which was to be released as a CD and DVD, as well as being simulcast in its entirety on the internet. The date for this event was to be September 11th, 2001. Due to the events of that day, the whole project was nearly cancelled, yet the band members ultimately decided to press-ahead with the show. Only the first song "Fragile" was broadcast on the internet before the simulcast was pulled as a mark of respect to those affected by that day's terrorist attacks. The rest of the show went ahead mainly as planned, although a few changes were made to the intended setlist. The resultant album and DVD "...All This Time", was released in November, but didn't generate healthy sales. It featured jazzy, more organic re-workings of Sting favourites such as "Roxanne" and "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free". Later, Sting performed "Fragile" for the fund-raiser America: A Tribute to Heroes.
2002 was a year of awards for Sting. He won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for his second Academy Award for his song "Until ..." from the film Kate & Leopold. In June, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Late in the year, it was announced that The Police would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2003. In the summer, Sumner was awarded the honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Sting kicked off 2003 with a performance during the Super Bowl's half-time show. During that performance Sting performed a duet with Gwen Stefani of "Message in a Bottle". 2003 also saw the release of Sacred Love, an original studio album with racier beats and experiments collaborating with hip-hop artist Mary J. Blige and sitar maestro Anoushka Shankar.
His autobiography Broken Music was published in October. Sting embarked on a Sacred Love tour in 2004 with performances by Annie Lennox. Also in 2004, his song "You Will Be My Ain True Love" for the Cold Mountain soundtrack was an Oscar nominee, and was performed at the awards by Alison Krauss, with Sting accompanying on a hurdy-gurdy.
Sting went on the Broken Music tour, touring smaller venues, with a four piece band kicking off in Los Angeles on 28 March 2005 and ending this "College Tour" on 14 May 2005. One tour stop was presented by MtvU with a report on their college TV branch. According to Sting, this tour was inspired by his book and a general "going back to his roots" attitude. The Broken Music tour continued in Europe, starting in Lisbon on the 4th June 2006 and ending in Vilnius on the 30th July 2006. Along with Sting, the band featured Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums and Dominic Miller and Lyle Workman on guitar.
Continuing with his involvement in Live Aid, on July 2, 2005 he performed "Message In A Bottle", "Driven To Tears" and "Every Breath You Take" at Live 8. A duet with Madonna was abandoned because the Live8 performers each only had a 15 minute time slot.
In October 2006 a small side project, a lute album is planned, titled Songs from the Labyrinth, which will come out on Deutsche Grammophon, the same label which also published "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev in 1994 with Sting as the narrator. The 16-song album will feature the music of John Dowland, a composer,lutenist and singer who died in 1626. Interspersed between the Elizabethan songs will be recitations from the composer's letters. Accompanying Sting will be Bosnian lute player Edin Karamazov.
Sting as Feyd Harkonnen in David Lynch's Dune (1984)
Sting occasionally has ventured into acting. Notable film roles include:
" Ace The Face, the King of The Mods, a.k.a. The Bell Boy in the movie adaptation of The Who album Quadrophenia (1979)
" Martin Taylor, a drifter in Brimstone and Treacle (1982)
" Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in the movie Dune (1984)
" Mick, a black-marketeer in Plenty (1985)
" Baron Frankenstein in The Bride (1985)
" An "heroic officer" in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
" Finney, a nightclub owner in Stormy Monday (1988)
" J.D., Eddie's father and owner of a bar, in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Sting also has made appearances on the stage and television, including guest spots on The Simpsons (episode "Radio Bart"), Saturday Night Live and Ally McBeal. He also provided the voice of Zarm on the 1990s television show Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
Throughout the 1980s, Sting strongly supported environmentalism and humanitarian movements, such as Amnesty International. With long-time girlfriend Trudie Styler and Raoni Metuktire, a Kayap? Indian leader in Brazil, he founded the Rainforest Foundation to help save the rainforests. His support for these causes continues to this day.
His most high-profile contribution to the human-rights cause came in 1988, when he joined a team of major musicians and rising stars--including Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen--assembled under the banner of Amnesty International for the six-week world Human Rights Now! Tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Sting married actress Frances Tomelty, a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, on 1 May 1976. Before they divorced in 1984, the couple had two children: Joseph (born 1976) and Fuschia Catherine