Sean Bean: The Interview - Page 7

"With Prince I kept a little black Alsatian pottery dog. I didn't keep anything from Lord of the Rings, though. They had people trying to get hold of stuff and sell it, so they were understandably very cautious and had quite strict security measures."

What about the "special" tattoo that all of the actors in the Fellowship have had done? "I haven't, yet," Sean admits, "but I think I probably will do. Once I find out what it looks like."

Sean already has one tattoo - the legendary 100% Blade he proudly sports on his left shoulder, a comment on his undying devotion to Sheffield United. He also has an interesting scar under his left eyebrow - a souvenir from Patriot Games, when Harrison Ford accidentally whacked him with a boat hook during the final climactic fight scenes. The scar lends his face a nice touch of villainy ("It's in the right place," Sean agrees, easily.).

I wonder whether he was ever seriously injured in any other roles.

"I've never really hurt myself badly. I suppose the closest I've ever been to an accident is in Sharpe's Regiment, when a horse landed on my head. They actually used that take. The bank collapsed and the horse's hoof sort of sprung off my head as he was jumping. I got a bit of a black eye and a bit of a neck problem. And about six hours before I were in the hospital getting me finger stitched up because I'd just cut that open...."

He pauses to show me which finger.

"And then in the afternoon the horse landed on my head. That were close 'cos I watched it back, and it were a bit iffy...."

He pauses again as he reflects on the gravity of what might have been - the realisation that if the horse's hoof had landed anywhere else on his head, he might actually have been killed.

If the reality of filming can sometimes be frightening, what about the implied danger? How do his children react to violent scenes, such as those in Bravo Two Zero, where Sean's character spends the better part of the last half of the series being beaten and tortured?

"I think they know it's make believe. I remember my middle daughter, Molly, didn't like watching Lorna Doone, 'cos I drowned in it. She wasn't upset...but she didn't like it. She was younger then....but she didn't like seeing me in something where I didn't survive."

Sean as Andy McNab in
Bravo Two Zero.

I suggest to Sean, rather humorously, that a significant number of his fans would also rather he didn't die during the course of his films. We chat briefly about Equilibrium, which he completed at the end of last year in Berlin. In the film, Sean's character, Partridge, is executed for his beliefs.

"It's a good part," Sean says. "It's only a small role, but it's quite an interesting one. I did like the script. It was a very interesting story about what could happen to society in a totalitarian regime where everybody becomes faceless and grey. My character was someone who resisted that, who had memories of the old world...and he more or less asked to be executed, really. He just couldn't live in that world anymore."

In talking to Sean, one realizes fairly quickly that he does not equate "success" with "stardom". Rather than accepting roles which are "all or nothing" - high profile parts which feature top billing and a constant screen presence - Sean is refreshingly open to all parts, big or small. He considers his appearances in Ronin and Shopping, and his brief comedic turn in The Vicar of Dibley (in which he played himself) as strategically important.

"I like doing a cameo role where it actually says something," he says. "Where the character actually has some effect, rather than just being in the background for all of the film."

If that's the case, I ponder, then are there any parts he would turn down?

"Characters that aren't interesting or substantial enough...or they're more or less sort of filling in...or roles I can't do because I'm doing something else. I've not really read anything that's so horrific or appalling that I wouldn't want to do it. I suppose there are certain characters that you wouldn't want to play.... Actually, I did get a script sent to me once and that was about a pedophile...and that was something I said no to - I don't really see how you can possibly convey any sympathy in playing a part like that, so I said no."


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