For someone who hardly gave acting a thought until he was 19
years old, Sean
Bean has a pretty impressive track record.
He has enjoyed stints with the RSC (which threw him in at the
deep end as
Romeo in his first stage role at Stratford), and has appeared
in several well-
received films (Derek Jarman's magical Caravaggio and the moving
among them) and appeared with reasonable frequency on TV, most
recently in the
first of Channel 4's series of vignettes, He-Play.
Many actors would envy the diversity of his career, yet Bean,
who left school
at 16 and worked for three years as a welder in his father's
factory, dreamed at
one point of being an artist.
"I had a sort of go at it and had some pictures in the window
of the local
Abbey National, but I couldn't make any money out of it."
His interest in acting was piqued through classes at a college
near his home
town of Sheffield. From there he went to RADA and, has never
looked back. "Now
it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do for a
This week sees him in the premiere of David Spencer's new play,
Cat (from the Soho Theatre Company) which previews from Thursday
at the Royal
Court and has already won its young playwright his second Verity
Bean plays the central character, Danny, a writer who leaves
his adopted city of
London and returns to his working class Yorkshire roots in an
attempt to make
sense of his family's past. Bean is drawn to the character's
vulnerability, and is enthused about the edge of Spencer's writing
with family conflicts - particularly between father and son.
But he admits it's a difficult piece to work on. "It's quite
play, very complex. A lot of writing on the subject tries to
make it black and
white - with this play there are a lot of undertones affecting
involved. Putting yourself in their situation is difficult because
want to recognize yourself in it, and yet you have to relate
to them without
justifying the father's behaviour."
Both Spencer and the play's director Sue Dunderdale have been
Bean's approach. "He's always seeking to find what's truthful,"
Dunderdale, former artistic director at the Soho Poly Theatre.
"He's very gutsy, he's got to believe each step as he goes
along. Once he's
settled into it he starts to think, to craft it, and it's very
Disarmingly unassuming, Bean is delighted to have worked recently
Hurt on two films: Windprints, set in Africa, and the forthcoming
which is set on Ireland's West Coast, directed by Jim Sheridan
(My Left Foot)
and has a cast including Hurt, Richard Harris, Brenda Fricker
and Tom Berenger.
"If there's anybody I've learnt from it's him. He taught
me a great deal about
discipline and a way of working. It was a real education to watch
him at work."
In the meantime there's not much time for art. "But I like
to keep in touch
with it," he says, adding with a wry smile: "I still
doodle on scripts."