Mr. Bean Rides Out
June 1, 2007
Mr Bean Rides Out ;
FILM Alison Jones Hitches a Ride With Sean Bean
Friday June 01 Birmingham Post; Birmingham (UK)
By Alison Jones
There are some roles that are just sacrosanct. That are so firmly ingrained in an
audience's psyche that they are virtually untouchable, particularly when it comes
Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining, Anthony Perkins in Psycho or Bruce the shark in
Jaws. Even Sir Anthony Hopkins was spookily aged-down to play Hannibal Lecter once
more in the Silence of the Lambs prequel Red Dragon, so inextricably is he linked with
That rule probably should have been applied to The Hitcher, a low budget chiller from
1986, made glorious by the presence of Rutger Hauer as the enigmatic lift-taker who
terrorises teenage driver C Thomas Howell, framing him for the string of motiveless
murders that he has committed.
A blend of serial killer slasher and psychological chase movie, it gained cult status
and was particularly memorable for the dispatching of Jennifer Jason Leigh who is
quartered, with a semi- truck standing in for horses.
However, production company Platinum Dunes have made it their mission to remake
the classics of the low budget genre, and after completing Texas Chainsaw Massacre
and The Amityville Horror, moved onto The Hitcher.
The man charged with the daunting task of flexing his thumb in the new version is
Sean Bean (who worked with Hitcher producer Michael Bay on The Island).
The Sheffield native was aware that accepting the part would invite comparisons with
the one time Guinness-guzzler Rutger but points out that it is not the first time he has
followed in the footsteps of acting greats.
"I've played Macbeth and actors have been playing that one for 500 years now, so
I suppose that is a remake every time you do it. "I wasn't really concerned about
comparisons, I just saw it as something new that we were doing. I'd seen the original
once before and thought it was good but I didn't want to see it again. I didn't want
to be guided by someone else's performance."
The 48-year-old star of Lord of the Rings was also eager to embrace his dark side
once again after a period of playing good guys, including the up-standing pilot in
Flightplan, the wily Odysseus in Troy, as well as a sympathetic husband in North
Country and a loving father in Silent Hill.
"I found this kind of fun to be honest. It was pretty focused and tense. The
character is very deranged and confused and I just played that confusion, "You
don't know what he wants. Maybe he just wanted to kill until he was killed himself.
Maybe he just didn't care.
"But because I was doing such wicked and horrible things to people it was nice to
have a bit of a joke about in between, otherwise you would go absolutely mad.
"At the end of the day I'd have a few beers, play some music and smash up me
hotel room," he says with a laugh.
The remake opened to some rather indifferent reviews in the States. But even if it
never attains the status and reputation of the original, Sean believes it has some
value as a public information film on the dangers of hitching.
"A lot of kids go hitchhiking in Europe during their gap year. I don't know that I'd let
my kids do it though (he has three daughters - Lorna and Molly by his second wife,
the actress Melanie Hill, and Evie, by his third wife, actress and Sharpe co-star Abigail
"Actually I know I would mind. I wouldn't tell them to get in a car with anybody. I
think it is weird thing to do, to get into a stranger's car."
This is the second film he has had released this year after Outlaw, a small British
thriller in which he plays a disgraced and disenchanted soldier who turns vigilante in
response to what he sees as the increasing lawlessness of the UK.
He has already completed work on Far North, which comes out next year. Shot at the
tip of Norway it is about three people who come together in the wilderness. After
that he has roles in A Woman of No Importance lined up and is pencilled in to play
Macbeth in Come Like Shadows which is written by actor Vincent Reagan and is based on Shakespeare's play.
Sean has been described as a workaholic and his track record of 17 films in the past
seven years, not to mention a return to the character of Richard Sharpe on television,
as well as advertising voice-overs for O2, Morrisons and the National Blood Service,
would seem to bear this out.
Though he may like a pint, he claims not to be fond of showbusiness parties,
preferring quieter pursuits like reading, listening to music or gardening.
However, his favourite pastime when he is not working is unquestionably watching
his beloved Sheffield United.
His devotion to the club is permanently recorded in the form of a tattoo on his
shoulder saying "100% Blade" and one on his wrist saying "SUFC" which he had
done when the team were promoted to the Premiership for a season last year.
He also has a tattoo of the Elvish symbol for Nine, which he and his LotR cast-mates
got as mementos of their time making the movie.
"I go up there (to Sheffield) quite a bit as I am a director of the club, so I get a
big leather seat to sit in and canapes at half time."
He claims that Sheffield United losing on a Saturday afternoon is his greatest fear
(although he is reportedly not too keen on flying either and hiked up a mountain
rather than be helicoptered up to film a scene for The Fellowship of The Ring).
When he was younger, like most boys of his age, he hoped to become a footballer but
swiftly realised that what he possessed in enthusiasm he lacked in talent.
"I was passable but I wasn't great. If I'd had a choice I would have been a footballer
until my pass-by date, then I'd have been a successful actor.
"But when I was 14 I realized the ball wasn't going in the right direction anymore
and I wasn't as good as a lot of the other kids around me."
Through the magic of movies he was able to realise his dream when he portrayed a
factory worker who gets scouted to play for Sheffield in his 30s in When Saturday
Ten years on Sean has to content himself with the occasional five aside knockabout.
"I do still play. It's my first love and last. It's true love."
The Hitcher is released today
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