SWASHBUCKLING Sharpe actor Sean Bean has revealed what kept him
going during a gruelling filming schedule in India - tinned British
Nearly a decade after the Sheffield
actor's big break as rugged Sharpe, the star says he was delighted
to dust off his sword and get back in the saddle to reprise the
role that kick-started his Hollywood career.
Picking up where Richard Sharpe's story
left off in the wake of Napoleon's crushing defeat at Waterloo,
Sharpe's Challenge begins with frightening tales of a blood-thirsty
Maharaja who is threatening British interests in India.
But Sean confessed he sometimes really
missed traditional British grub while filming the new show.
The 47-year-old actor, from Handsworth,
said: "We ate at least 15,000 curries during filming - I
mean, I like curries but not for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Then Fray Bentos sent me over a box of meat pies which was great.
"But the local people looked after
us really well and I'd love to go back again because everybody
is so welcoming and so positive about their life and work. It
was a real breath of fresh air."
Much as the thrice-divorced actor loves
his work, he says he has always found it hard to be away from
his three daughters, Lorna, 18, Molly, 15, and seven-year-old
"They've got quite used to it now
because I've been doing it ever since they've been little,"
"Starting with the very first episodes
of Sharpe, I used to go over to the Crimea in August and then
I wouldn't see the girls again until Christmas Eve. It was 16
weeks on the trot for three years so that was pretty tough.
"But it sort of balances itself
out now - I get back and I'm usually off for a few weeks and
we spend a lot of time together. Now, I try to get them to fly
over to LA or I get back and have breaks in between so they don't
miss me and they can see me every so often."
And of course his beloved Sheffield
United FC, which he has been devoted to since he was in short
trousers, also guarantees he will never be away from the UK for
"Everyone knows I love The Blades,
but I don't just go up there for that - I do see my family as
well!" he laughs.
Sean says filming in India was hard
work - but the cast did have time to let their hair down.
"We worked hard, but had such a
great cast and crew that we really enjoyed ourselves when we
finished work - as you can imagine," he laughs.
Although he performed all of his own
stunts in Sharpe's Challenge, the closest he'd been to horse-riding
in recent years was jumping out of a wooden one in Troy. He admits
that he had to brush up on his equestrian skills.
"We did quite a bit of sword work
before we went out to India and I'd done some for Lord Of The
Rings and Troy as well - it's something that I've kept in with
- but the horse-riding I hadn't done for ages.
"In Lord Of The Rings I did a bit
of riding, but mostly just plodding on to set. I hadn't cantered
or galloped for about eight years.
"I went to a farm for some practice
and thought I'd fall off, but it is just like riding a bike,
as everyone says. I remembered where the all the gears were -
and the brakes," he grins.
Sean also confessed he has a soft spot
for Sharpe's famous green jacket, even going as far as to keep
the original jacket in his wardrobe at home.
For more on Sharpe's Challenge, which
is on ITV1 on Sunday and Monday, see The Star Weekeneder on Saturday.
Life and times of actor Bean
Real name: Shaun Mark Bean
Birthday: April 17, 1959
Significant other: Dating actress Georgina Sutcliffe
Career high: Landing his big break as Sharpe in 1992
Career low: While filming the final fight sequence for Patriot
Games, Harrison Ford accidentally hit Sean in the head with a
boat-hook. He still bears the scar.
Famous for: Breaking into Hollywood as Boromir in Tolkien's The
Lord Of The Rings
Early Life: Left school with two O-levels. His first job was
working for his father's welding firm.
Career: Bean worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company before
making his TV debut in a 1984 episode of The Bill. Roles in The
Fifteen Streets, Stormy Monday and Patriot Games followed before
Love Life: First married childhood sweetheart Debra Anderson
in 1980, then Bread star Melanie Hill. After their 16-year marriage
ended he wed Sharpe co-star Abigail Cruttenden. That ended in
2000 after three years.