Essex Boys - Crime lord of the Essex underworld

Last Update: 21 July 2000

Source: Edinburgh Evening News


Crime lord of the Essex underworld

Sean Bean on his very bad guy role in a new film


HE’S played a few baddies in his
time - but none of them compares
with the drug-dealing, wife-beating
character Sean Bean has to portray
in his new movie.

The Sheffield-born star plays the
relentlessly evil Jason Locke in
Essex Boys, which opens this
weekend and is based on a real-life
1995 drug-related murder in which
three men were shot dead in a
Range Rover in rural Essex.

When Bean’s character isn’t doling
out ecstasy pills or blowing away
the Essex underworld, he’s beating
up his wife, played by ER actress
Alex Kingston.

But despite the brutality, both stars
pulled out all the stops to make it
as realistic as possible.

"We knew vaguely what actions we
were going to take and where we
were going to go, but on the actual
take it was a case of ‘good luck’
and, thankfully, it went really well,"
he explains.

"We agreed in going for it
whole-heartedly, which I think it
needed if we were going to show
two people going for it hammer and
tongs," he adds.

The part not only called for Bean to
unleash his darker side but also to
immerse himself in the seedy Essex

"We went to certain bars and
talked to a few people," he says, "I
also read quite a bit about the
actual incident. To be able to play
this part you can’t keep yourself at
too much of a distance, otherwise
you’re never going to get to know
these people.

"Surprisingly some of them are very
charming and very interesting
characters. It’s certainly not all
walking around with guns and
gnashing of teeth."

But however much he knew it was
just a part, the 40-year-old was
aware that it wasn’t one he’d like
his young daughters to see.

"Hopefully, I think they know me for
who I am and that they can
distinguish between reality and
fantasy," he ponders.

By contrast, Bean hopes his next
movie, Lord Of The Rings, will be
something his girls will be proud to
see him in.

"I did have them in mind when I
took the part," says Bean, who has
two daughters by his first wife
actress Melanie Hill and a third with
new wife Abigail Cruttenden. "It’s a
big step from Essex Boys. I was
really pleased to get the part in
order to make a change from one
extreme to the other."

But the Lord Of The Rings shoot, in
New Zealand, meant long periods
away from home.

"I do miss my family," he says. "I
tend to focus on what I’m doing but
sometimes, when it gets over three
months, you start noticing the fact
that you want to come back."

Bean says he’s more than happy
making British-based movies,
despite stints in Hollywood working
alongside A-list stars such as
Robert De Niro.

"I do prefer British movies because
you tend to get lost in a big
blockbuster and your part tends to
get diluted," he explains.

That’s not to say, however, that
he’s not a little starstruck by some
of his Hollywood co-stars.

"Usually, once you get to know
these people you sit down, have a
cup of tea and a cigarette and you
realise you’re all in it together, but
Robert De Niro, he was different,"
he laughs. "He had an air of
individuality. He’s such a hero of
mine and a fantastic actor."

Even now Bean, who lives in
London, can’t quite believe how far
he’s come since his days as an
apprentice welder in Sheffield.

"I do take stock of my life," he
says. "It’s always great to work
with people you’ve been to see in
films, like De Niro, you hear names
and you just think ‘fantastic’ and on
the whole they do live up to

But Bean still regrets that he didn’t
fulfil one ambition - to make it as a
professional footballer.

"I wish I could have done both
acting and football like Vinnie
Jones," says the ardent Sheffield
United fan. "He’s done it right, but I
don’t think I would have been good

Essex Boys opens this Friday.

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