Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean (born 17 April 1959) is an English film and stage actor. Bean is known for playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and, previously, British Colonel Richard Sharpe in the ITV television series Sharpe. He is also known for his film work playing such roles as Alec Trevelyan in GoldenEye, Jason Locke in Essex Boys, Odysseus in Troy, Ian Howe in National Treasure and Andy McNab in Bravo Two Zero. Bean has also acted in a number of television productions and character roles such as playing Robert Aske in Henry VIII and Eddard Stark in HBO's Game of Thrones. He has also performed voice work for computer games, including Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and in television advertisements—most recently for the O2 mobile network and the Why Pink Floyd...? campaign.
Early life Edit
Bean was born as Shaun Mark Bean in the Handsworth district of Sheffield, England, the son of Rita (née Tuckwood) and Brian Bean. Bean's father owned a fabrication shop, which he had set up with a colleague. The business employed 50 people, including Bean's mother, who worked as a secretary. He has a younger sister named Lorraine. Despite becoming relatively wealthy (his father owned a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow), the family never moved away from the council estate, because they preferred to remain close to friends and family.
As a child, Bean smashed a glass door due to an argument over scissors. It left a piece of glass embedded in his leg that briefly impeded his walking and left a large scar. This accident prevented him from pursuing his dream of playing football professionally. In 1975, Bean left Brook Comprehensive School with two O Levels in Art and English. After a job at a supermarket and another for the council, Bean started working for his father's firm with a day release at Rotherham College of Arts and Technology to take a welding course. While at Rotherham he stumbled into an arts class and decided to pursue his interest in art. After attending courses at two other colleges, one for half a day and the other for less than a week, he returned to Rotherham College, where he came across a drama course for which he subsequently enrolled. After some college plays and one at Rotherham Civic Theatre, he applied for and received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), starting a seven term course in January 1981.
He graduated from RADA in 1983 having won the Silver Medal for his performance in Waiting for Godot. He made his professional acting début in 1983 at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, Berkshire as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. His early work involved a mixture of stage and screen work. As an actor, he adopted the Irish spelling "Sean" of his first name. His first national exposure came in an advert for non-alcoholic lager. Between 1986 and 1988 he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company appearing in productions of Romeo and Juliet, The Fair Maid of the West, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He appeared in his first film in 1986 when he played Ranuccio Tomassoni in Derek Jarman's film Caravaggio. He then reunited with the director on War Requiem in 1988, which also starred Laurence Olivier. In 1989 he starred as the evil Dominic O'Brien in Catherine Cookson's "The Fifteen Streets" where he gained a dedicated following.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, he became an established actor on British television. He had notable performances in the BBC productions Clarissa and Lady Chatterley. His role in the latter became infamous for his sex scenes with Joely Richardson. In 1990, Bean co-starred with Richard Harris in Jim Sheridan's adaption of the John B. Keane play, The Field; also in 1990, his role as the journalist Anton in Windprints examined the difficult problems of apartheid in South Africa.
In 1996 he appeared in what became a famous Sky Sports commercial for the Premier League and, that year, he combined his love of football with his career, to finally achieve his childhood dream of playing for Sheffield United, albeit as Jimmy Muir in the film When Saturday Comes. Although the film was not critically acclaimed, Sean Bean received credit for a good performance.
His critical successes in Caravaggio and Lady Chatterley contributed to his emerging image as a sex symbol, but he became most closely associated with the character of Richard Sharpe, the maverick Napoleonic Wars rifleman. Bean was not the first actor to be chosen to play Sharpe, but Paul McGann, the first choice, was injured while playing football two days into filming. Initially, producers tried to work around McGann's injury, but it proved impossible and Bean received the call. The 16-episode Sharpe television series was based loosely on Bernard Cornwell's novels about the Peninsular War, and the fictional experiences of a band of soldiers in the famed 95th Rifles. Starting with Sharpe's Rifles, the series followed the fortunes and misfortunes of Richard Sharpe as he rose from the ranks as a Sergeant to Lieutenant Colonel by the time of the Battle of Waterloo. It ran from 1993 to 1997, with three episodes produced each year. The series was filmed under challenging conditions, first in Ukraine, and later in Portugal. After several years of rumours, more episodes were produced, called Sharpe's Challenge, which aired in April 2006, and Sharpe's Peril which aired on ITV in the autumn of 2008 and was later released on DVD.
With a mini-series role as enigmatic Lord Richard Fenton in the TV miniseries Scarlett, loosely based on the sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Bean made the transition to Hollywood feature films. His first notable Hollywood appearance was that of an Irish republican terrorist in the 1992 film adaptation of Patriot Games; in a fight scene, Harrison Ford hit him with a boat hook, giving him a permanent scar. Bean's rough-cut looks made him a patent choice for a villain, and this role in Patriot Games was the first of several villains that he would portray, all of whom come to sticky ends.
He played Alec Trevelyan (MI6's 006) and James Bond's nemesis in the 1995 film GoldenEye; the weak-stomached Spence (with Robert De Niro) in Ronin (1998); a wife-beating ex-con in Essex Boys (2000); the malevolent kidnapper-jewel thief in Don't Say a Word (2001). He was also widely recognised as villainous treasure hunter Ian Howe in the popular National Treasure opposite Nicolas Cage. He played a villainous scientist in The Island (2005) and a dedicated husband in Silent Hill. In the independent film, Far North, he played a Russian mercenary, lost in the tundra and rescued by an Inuit woman and her daughter; he ends up pitting his two female rescuers against one another.
In arguably Bean's most prominent role, as Boromir in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, his major screen-time occurs in the first installment, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. He appeared briefly in flashbacks in the theater releases of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; he also appears in a scene from the extended edition of The Two Towers. Before casting finished, rumours circulated that Jackson had considered Bean for the role of Aragorn, but neither Bean nor Jackson confirmed this in subsequent interviews. Bean's well-known fear of flying caused him difficulties in mountainous New Zealand, where the trilogy was filmed. After a particularly rough ride, he vowed not to fly to a location again. In one instance, he chose to take a ski lift into the mountains and then hike the final few miles, in full costume complete with shield, armour and sword.
Bean has a tattoo of the English word "nine" written using Tengwar on his shoulder, a reference to his involvement in the Lord of the Rings and the fact that his character was one of the original nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring. The other actors of "The Fellowship"—Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, and Viggo Mortensen—acquired the same tattoo. John Rhys-Davies, whose character was Gimli, also one of the original nine companions, arranged for his stunt double to get the tattoo.
Other roles gave more scope for his acting abilities, particularly those involving death scenes. In 1999's Extremely Dangerous, his character walked a fine line between villain and hero, reminiscent of the 1960s American TV series, The Fugitive. He became a repentant, poetry-reading Grammaton cleric who succumbs to his emotions in 2002's Equilibrium; a quirky alien cowboy in 2003's The Big Empty, and a sympathetic and cunning Odysseus in the 2004 film Troy.
He cameoed with other Hollywood stars in Moby's music video "We Are All Made of Stars" in February 2002. In the same year, he returned to the stage in London performing in Macbeth alongside Samantha Bond. Due to popular demand, the production ran until March 2003.
Bean's high profile and recognisable voice have created opportunities for voice-over work, especially in the British advertising industry. He has featured in television adverts for O2, Morrisons and Barnardos as well as for Acuvue and the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States. He also does the voice over for the National Blood Service's television and radio campaign. For the role playing video game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, he voiced Martin Septim.
Bean has completed a one hour pilot, Faceless, for US television. He has also appeared in Outlaw, an independent British production, and a remake of 1986 horror film, The Hitcher (released in January 2007); here he used an American accent again. He also starred in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, playing the role of Zeus, the king of Mount Olympus and God of lightning, in February 2010. Also that year, Bean starred in CASH (CA$H), playing the lead role of Pyke Kubic, a dangerous man determined to recover his wealth in a bad economy. CASH (CA$H), which co-starred Chris Hemsworth, explored the role money plays in today's hard economic times. Bean also played the villain's twin brother, Reese. The film was directed and written by Stephen Milburn Anderson (South Central).
Bean stars in the first season of Game of Thrones, HBO's adaptation of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin, playing the part of Lord Eddard Stark. Bean will star in Soldiers of Fortune, alongside Ving Rhames and Christian Slater.
Bean has just completed filming Cleanskin, in which he plays a secret service agent faced with the task of pursuing and eliminating a suicide bomber and his terrorist cell. The film stars Charlotte Rampling, James Fox, Abhin Galeya, Tuppence Middleton and Michelle Ryan. The film was written, produced and directed by Hadi Hajaig and is being released by Warner Brothers in UK cinemas on 9 March 2012. He also completed work on Tarsem Singh's Snow White film, "Mirror, Mirror", which is scheduled to premiere in the U.S. in March 2012.
Bean will reprise his role as Christopher Da Silva in the Silent Hill film sequel Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. He will co-star with Ashley Judd in the upcoming ABC drama series, "Missing" which is slated to premiere in early 2012. Bean is slated to star with Aaron Eckhart, Anna Sophia Robb and Terence Stamp in Pan, a modern-day spin on J.M. Barrie's tale of Peter Pan, where Pan is a villain being hunted by a police captain named Hook.
In 2012, Bean will be seen in the feature film adaptation of Anthony McGowan's novel The Knife That Killed Me
The actor also has said that he would like to have a cameo in Coronation Street (joking that he could be the milkman). Bean has also stated that he would like to do some wildlife presenting sometime in the future.
Often described as down to earth, Sean Bean has retained his Sheffield accent, despite now living in London. Partly due to his role as Sharpe, he is also described as a sex symbol. He was voted the UK's second sexiest man in 2004; his Trilogy co-star Orlando Bloom received the highest votes. He admits he does not mind being considered as a "bit of rough" by women. Bean's first love was football and he has been a passionate Sheffield United supporter from a young age; he has a tattoo on his left shoulder that reads 100% Blade. He was a director of the club until December 2007, but decided to "go back to the terraces, where (he) truly belong(s)". He had some issues with Neil Warnock, former manager of Sheffield United, after Warnock claimed that Bean stormed into his office and shouted at him in front of his wife and daughter after the 2006–07 season. Bean denies it, calling Warnock "bitter" and "hypocritical". He also wrote the foreword and helped to promote a book of anecdotes called Sheffield United: The Biography. He also follows Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
In addition to his image as a sex symbol and an admitted "bit of rough", Bean has developed a reputation as a loner, a label he considers unfair. He has described himself instead as quiet, and interviewers confirm that he is a "man of few words"; a recent interviewer even called him surprisingly shy. Although he admits he can be a workaholic, in his spare time he relaxes with a book or listens to music, and is a talented pianist. He is also a keen gardener, and does both welding and sketching.
Despite being professionally trained, Sean Bean adopts an instinctive style of acting that some say makes him especially well-suited to portraying his characters' depths. He has said in interviews that the most difficult part is at the start of filming when trying to understand the character. After achieving this he can snap in and out of character instantly. This ability to go from the quiet man on set to the warrior Boromir "amazed" Sean Astin during filming of The Fellowship of the Ring. Other fans include the directors Mike Figgis (Stormy Monday) and Wolfgang Petersen (Troy), who described working with Bean as a "beautiful thing".
Bean has been married and divorced four times. He married his high-school sweetheart Debra James on 11 April 1981. The marriage ended in divorce in 1990. He met actress Melanie Hill at RADA, and they married on 27 February 1990. The couple's first daughter, Lorna, was born in October 1987; their second, Molly, was born in September 1991. Bean and Hill's marriage ended in divorce in August 1997.
During the filming of Sharpe, Bean met actress Abigail Cruttenden, and they married on 22 November 1997. Their daughter, Evie Natasha, was born in November 1998. Bean and Cruttenden divorced in July 2000. Bean began dating actress Georgina Sutcliffe in 2006. After cancelling their planned January 2008 wedding on the eve of the ceremony for "personal reasons", Bean married Sutcliffe at the Marylebone Register Office in London on 19 February 2008. Amid allegations that Bean physically abused Sutcliffe in 2009, domestic disturbances resulted in the police being called to their home in Belsize Park on three occasions. Bean and Sutcliffe's separation was announced on 6 August 2010 and the divorce was finalised on 21 December 2010. Bean is a fan of football and is a supporter of Sheffield United F.C.
Awards and honoursEdit
Bean has yet to receive a major individual award in the film industry. However he did receive three separate awards as part of the ensemble cast in The Return of the King: from the Screen Actors Guild, the National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association all in 2004.
In his home city of Sheffield, he received an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in 1997 and a second doctorate, a Doctor of Letters in English Literature from the University of Sheffield in July 2007. Afterward, Bean commented, "I did get a doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University about 11 or 12 years ago so now I'm a double doctor. But this was wonderful, especially from my home city." He was also selected as one of the inaugural members of Sheffield Legends, the Sheffield equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He now has a plaque in his honour placed in front of Sheffield Town Hall.