What's On TV (January 2-8, 1999)
by Lorraine Thurlow
His dream was to play Horatio Hornblower. But since that part went to newcomer Ioan Gruffudd, Sean Bean can console himself with his latest role, playing Gulf War hero Andy McNab in BBC1's lavish dramatisation of McNab's bestselling book Bravo Two Zero.
"I'd read the book a couple of years before I was offered the part and was impressed by how this man coped with capture and subsequent interrogation," says Sheffield-born Sean.
Sean met McNab as part of his research for the role and was surprised at how approachable and open the former SAS commander was.
"We'd arranged to meet at this pub. When I arrived, I saw a man smiling at me and thought, 'That must be him' - he was very friendly," says Sean.
"We got on immediately. I suppose I was expecting a secretive, veiled character, but Andy was so honest with me about his experiences.
"You hear about the SAS and form an idea of these cloak-and-dagger organisations, but Andy gave me a different perspective."
Sean is famous for his starring role in ITV's Napoleonic war drama, Sharpe. The series ended nearly two years ago, but Sean has fond memories of the drama. The role gave him the opportunity to meet his third wife, actress Abigail Cruttenden, who was cast as his wife in the series. And, in November, Abigail gave birth to their first child, daughter Evie.
Sean, who also has two other daughters, Lorna and Molly, from his previous marriage to Playing the Field star Melanie Hill, insists there are no similarities between the roles he plays in Sharpe and Bravo Two Zero.
"They're both soldiers, but you're talking about two entirely different methods of warfare," says Sean. "Sharpe is fictional and, if anything, the more glamorous figure. Bravo Two Zero doesn't give a glamorous view of war."
Ironically, in the current Robert De Niro gangster movie Ronin, Sean plays a fraud who pretends to be an SAS man.
His roles have won him many admirers and he gets loads of letters. But he doesn't think much of being a sex symbol. "It's OK," mumbles Sean, who lives in a lavish mansion in London. "But it's a bit difficult. Labels are attached to you. Still, at least they don't say I'm an ugly sod!"
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