Exclusive Sean Bean Interview
Exclusive Sean Bean Interview
13 January 2007
Posted By: Sheila Roberts
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Bean, one of Englands most
talented and versatile actors, who is currently promoting his latest film, the
highly anticipated "The Hitcher. Bean is an elegant and accomplished artist
whose stellar acting career has spanned every medium over the past 20 years
from film to stage to radio and television. He has appeared in roles that are
as diverse as they are memorable -- from angst-ridden villains (Robert
Lovelace in "Clarissa) to rough-and-ready soldiers (Major Richard Sharpe
in the Sharpes TV series) to passionate lovers (Mellors in "Lady Chatterleys
Lover) and noble Greeks (Odysseus in "Troy). He gained international fame
as the noble warrior Boromir in Peter Jacksons multi-Academy Award-winning
"The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Sheffield native worked as a welder in his fathers welding firm before
turning to acting and undergoing classical training. After graduating from
the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, he joined the Royal Shakespeare
Company and appeared in a number of West End stage productions including
RSC's "Fair Maid of the West" (as Spencer, 1986) and "Romeo and Juliet"
(Romeo, 1987), as well as "Deathwatch" (Lederer, 1985) at the Young Vic,
and "Killing the Cat" (Danny, 1990) at the Theatre Upstairs. His credits
with the RSC also include "A Midsummer Nights Dream and "King Richard II.
After a thirteen year absence, Bean returned to the stage in 2002 to play
Macbeth at the Albery Theatre in London, delivering a critically acclaimed
performance that led to an extended run.
Mr. Beans notable initial starring roles on-screen included ones in Mike Figgis
"Stormy Monday (with Tommy Lee Jones, Sting, and Melanie Griffith); Jim
Sheridans "The Field (with Richard Harris, Brenda Fricker, and John Hurt);
and Phillip Noyces "Patriot Games (as an Irish terrorist opposite Harrison Ford).
During their final fight sequence in "Patriot Games, Ford accidentally struck
Bean with a boat hook that left him with a scar over his eye which has only
added to his tough guy allure.
Beans next role made him one of the U.K.s best-known stars. He was cast
as novelist Bernard Cornwells enduring character Richard Sharpe, hero of the
Napoleonic Wars, in the 1993 telefilm "Sharpes Rifles. He subsequently
starred in the role 14 more times for director Tom Clegg, including the recently
completed final project, "Sharpes Challenge. Bean looks back on his role in
the 14-part British TV series with fondness and genuine enthusiasm, "It was
a fantastic role the people involved in it, the other actors, the crew they
were very special to me. Sharpes a great character. Its obvious this is one
role he enjoyed playing and of which he is particularly proud.
Mr. Beans other feature films include Martin Campbells "GoldenEye
(opposite Pierce Brosnan in his debut as James Bond); Bernard Roses
"Anna Karenina; John Frankenheimers "Ronin; Terry Winsors "Essex
Boys; Gary Fleders "Dont Say a Word; Esme Lammers family film
"Tom & Thomas; Wolfgang Petersens "Troy; Jon Turteltaubs "National
Treasure; "The Island (directed by The Hitcher producer Michael Bay);
Robert Schwentkes "Flightplan; Christophe Gans "Silent Hill; and Niki C
aros "North Country (opposite Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand).
Bean currently resides in London with his three daughters Lorna, Molly and
Evie. He is an avid fan of Sheffield United, his favorite football team whose
nickname is "The Blades. His zealous support for the team is well known and
he roots for them whenever and wherever satellite reception allows. He sports
a "100% BLADE" tattoo on his left shoulder in their honor. The tattoo is
frequently concealed with makeup or converted into a scar or a different
tattoo when he is filming. Bean is also passionate about wildlife and
enjoys gardening and working outdoors when time permits between films.
In his latest project, Bean stars as John Ryder in "The Hitcher, a bold remake
in which Bean takes on Rutger Hauers original role as the homicidal hitchhiker.
The thriller, directed by Dave Meyers in his feature debut, tracks the terrifying
trajectory of Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) and Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton),
a collegiate couple who are tormented by the mysterious hitchhiker John Ryder,
a.k.a. The Hitcher (Sean Bean). The young couple hit the road in a 1970
Oldsmobile 442, en route to spring break. But their pleasure trip soon turns
into a waking nightmare. The initial encounters with Ryder are increasingly
off-putting for Grace and Jim, and they bravely fight back when he ambushes
them. But they are truly blindsided when he implicates them in a horrific
slaying and continues to shadow them. The open road becomes a suspenseful,
action-packed battleground of blood and metal as, in trying to elude not only
Ryder but also New Mexico State Police Lieutenant Esteridges (Neal McDonough)
officers, Grace and Jim must fight for their lives and face their fears head-on.
Bean admits, "Ive never been a hitchhiker, and Ive never picked any up --
and I dont think I ever will, now With respect to his character, he reveals,
"I felt it was important that, initially, you encounter him as a regular guy and
not as an out-and-out psycho from the beginning. Ryder is intelligent and
shrewd, and a good actor. I see his clothes as coming from a previous victim,
as he takes the part of someone else. He himself is a kind of phantom, without his own back story.
Director David Meyers notes, "Sean is the strong actor we needed to bring a
strong interpretation to the role. Rutger Hauers performance in the 1986
movie helped define who our Hitcher was written to be. Producer Andrew
Form adds, "Clearly, no actor would want to imitate what Hauer did, so
Seans is a different John Ryder and just as powerful. Co-star Zachary
Knighton reflects, "He had been on my own Hitcher list even before anyone
told me that they were after him to do the role. Sean is always prepared
and intense. I think people are going to be really surprised by what he does
with the character.
Sean Bean is not only a sensational actor but hes also a terrific guy and I
really appreciated his time. For our interview, we met at the Four Seasons
Hotel in Los Angeles during the recent press junket for The Hitcher. As John
Ryder, Bean is one of the scariest men to be seen on screen in a long time.
But in person, you would never know it. He was polite, charming and
friendly. And he went out of his way to make sure I was warm on a
rather chilly afternoon -- even offering to close the veranda doors of
his hotel suite that opened onto a spectacular view of the L.A. skyline
from one of the hotels top floors.
Bean has been thrilling audiences for over two decades ever since his
acting career first began on the British stage in the mid-1980s. I couldnt
help but ask myself how someone who looked so devastatingly good could
play a character so inherently evil. No wonder his fans refer to him as
Sheffields best and The Mighty Bean. This is an actor who does not
equate success with high profile parts and top billing. He loves the
opportunity to play a well written role no matter how small or large
the part as long as the character is interesting and substantial.
Dressed casually in jeans and a two-toned, navy striped shirt, Sean spoke
thoughtfully and enthusiastically in a distinct Sheffield accent about his new
film, his multi-faceted career, and his beloved football team, The Blades --
all while sipping a cold Heineken. Heres what he had to tell me:
Question: What was it about the character of John Ryder in Hitcher that
drew you into the film and attracted you to this role?
Sean Bean: I suppose just reading the script. I just thought there was a lot of
space, a lot of room to maneuver in terms of how I could play the character.
You know, usually its so jammed full with exposition and plot and explanations,
and this character wasnt conveying that kind of information. He was just being
himself. He was just being his character and he spoke very little and when he
did it was (laughs) when it came out, it was very powerful. So I just enjoyed
being able to have that sort of leeway and that freedom to be able to sort of
build a character and emotions and blocks around him.
Q: How did you go about conceptualizing and creating the character of
John Ryder? Do you base your characters on people you know?
SB: I dont know. I just look at the things that he does and what he says and
what people say about him, I suppose. And I think, What kind of guy is this?
And in this case, hes obviously not a very stable guy, you know. (Laughs)
Theres lots of things going on there that are causing him to behave the way
he does and I suppose I just think to myself, Why would he do that? Why
would a man do that?
Occasionally you think about things in the past where youve seen programs
or youve met people or knew people who behaved in very unstable or in very
unnatural ways and have done horrific sort of things that you can draw upon
because theres very little to draw upon well, theres nothing to draw upon i
n terms of background or information of his history. So I just kind of invented
it which I found quite interesting to have that freedom to do.
Q: Did you get a chance to watch the original Hitcher film before filming began?
SB: Yeah, I saw it. It was about 20 years ago, wasnt it, I think? And, you know,
that was good. I enjoyed it and it was a very well made film. At first, I suppose
I thought like its a remake, but then I talked to the director, I read the script,
and I thought, Well, theres a lot of room here and its very different. Its quite
different from the original and I suppose thats the main reason I thought,
Well, were not doing a remake here. Were doing another version of a previous
film. So I didnt have any problem with it from then on.
It was a very well constructed film and Rutger Hauer turned in a very good
performance and I remember being scared by it, and as I said, it made an
impact but I really didnt want that running around my head and cluttering
things up when we were making our version of it. So, I think working with
Dave and obviously, Zach and Sophie I think we created quite an interesting
new version. And I didnt really have any reservations or concerns about
being compared to another actor. I just wanted to start from scratch and
do it my way.
Q: As an actor, is it hard going into a remake that has a cult fanbase from
the original that is already against the film just because its a remake?
SB: I dont know. Im not really aware of that. I supposed with every remake you
get people who regardless of whether its a finer approach than the original
will always want to criticize it because its a remake. You know what I mean?
I mean Im just trying to think of remakes that have been successful in the
past and I think that theres been a few.
Theres not many but I do think you get people who are going to be pessimistic
right from the beginning. Just like James Bond, you know, Daniel Craig, who
right from the beginning they were writing (slacking?) him off and saying
hes not up to it. And then it comes out and hes probably the best Bond thats
ever been. So I dont really listen to so much nonsense when people say
stuff like that.
Q: What was it like working with Dave Meyers in his feature directorial debut?
SB: It was good, you know. I wouldnt have noticed that hed never made a
film before because he was very focused anyway and hed obviously done his
homework and he knew what he was doing. I just liked him as a man, you know,
when I talked to him on the phone because Id never met him until I got to Austin,
Texas the night before we started shooting. So I didnt really know him that well.
But we had dinner the night before and we got along very well and we were
both on the same wave length. I didnt have any problem with that whatsoever.
I quite enjoyed being with him and the humor that he instilled in the film as a
whole but certainly in some of the characters. I think he brought a certain humor
out in John Ryder which I thought was very difficult to do. (Laughs) And there
are some quite wry moments in there, I think. Thank god there are because
otherwise its pretty relentless. There are some little moments, some great
details there. I like to see what happens on the set and be spontaneous
about the possibilities. Dave, who has a great eye, gave us a creative
environment where the actors could play around and experiment with a scene.
We were able to take our time and find the moments that we might otherwise
Q: What is it about the Hitcher that will make it worth the fans money
to run out and see rather than rent the original film on DVD?
SB: Personally I think it moves much quicker. I think its scarier. I think its an
updated version that people will be able to relate to more than the original
without putting the original down. But you know I think that we often have
things in our heads where we think Wow, that film was great. I know I do.
I have favorites of mine.
I tell my kids, Youve got to see this film. When I saw it when I was 15, it was
amazing. And I get it out and I show it to them and they say, Dad, what are
you talking about? Its rubbish. Its boring. And I say, Yeah, yeah, its kind
of dated. So my advice is just to go out and see it. Its now.
Q: Having been in The Dark, Silent Hill and now The Hitcher, do you plan
on doing more films in the horror genre?
SB: Not really. No. Id like to sort of do something in real life (laughs)
if you know what I mean -- something a little different. Ive just done a
couple films that are very different from The Hitcher and so I feel as though
Ive balanced it up a little bit last year, but it would be nice to
Im just at the moment having a good time and just looking at things and
seeing what would be best for me, which direction for me to take. I dont
want to get as much as I love playing these kind of roles I do like
trying to diversify and see if I can do different things.
Q: When we spoke to Nicholas Cage about National Treasure 2, he wasnt
sure if you were on board. Can you tell us if you are? And if so what role
you will play?
SB: National Treasure 2? I dont think I am. No. Not as I know anyway.
(Laughs) I dont know where Ive gone from the last one. I think Im
probably in prison at this point. (More laughing) So maybe Ill break out
or something. Maybe Ill be in National Treasure 3 or 4 or 5. No, at
this point, Im not aware that Im part of it. No.
Q: You have an upcoming project called Outlaw, it sounds like a post
apocalyptic Vigilante story, what can you tell us about it and your role?
SB: I play someone called Danny Bryant whos a Marine just returning from
Iraq who comes back to the U.K. and hes been around the block a few times
and hes very disaffected by what he sees when he returns home and the
injustice and social injustice, the PC, the political situation that is so
prevalent in Britain, in sort of Blairs Britain, and he knows of people
Its an ensemble piece in some ways.
Its about people who have suffered injustices physical or mental
injustices who have turned to the law, who have turned to the courts
or everywhere without getting any response or any sense of satisfaction or
justice. And they decide to quite inadvertently in a way come together
as a group of people who mete out their own kind of justice. And thats not
to say its some kind of death wish film. You know its not just people
going around and smashing people up.
I suppose its about people who have been isolated, who are vulnerable, who
have gone every single way they can which theyve been told to do. Go through
the courts, go through the police, go through the law. Theyve been let down by
everyone and by society and the government in general and theres only one
way to take this and the way they take it is through their law. Its quite
violent in places but its more poignant than anything else. Its a quite
poetic piece of work about people who were forced into that situation.
Ive not see it yet, but its creating quite a lot of interest over in England
at the moment and it should be out in a few weeks time.
Q: With Silent Hill 2 starting to make some progress, what will be your
SB: Silent Hill 2?
Q: Silent Hill 2.
SB: Really? (Laughs) Thats something else Im not totally aware of.
Q: You havent heard that? No?
SB: No, but thanks for the information. (Laughs) Ill get on to my agent about