Sean Bean: The Interview - Page 2

Inside, you can tell it's only a temporary home. Other than the handwritten sign on the door - Koster - there's very little to identify the trailer as belonging to Sean. There's a fur-trimmed, hooded parka hanging on a hook, and on a chair there's a very battered and worn brown leather carry-all. Discarded across it are a nondescript t-shirt and a pair of track pants with a stripe down the side of each leg. On the counter, in a very clean and not-much-used kitchen area, there's a bulk container of chocolates, a package of cookies and a photocopied menu for that day's lunch on the set. Scattered around a table are pens and pencils and bits and pieces of paper, notes, scribbled things. To this, Sean adds two bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale.

A cup of tea for me is delivered by an obliging member of the production crew, and we sit down to chat.

Very quickly, I discover there are certain subjects which make Sean's face and eyes light up, which convey a passion and an enduring love. They include his children (older daughters Lorna and Molly, whose mother is actress Melanie Hill; and Evie, his two and a half year old, whose mother is actress Abigail Cruttenden. "She has long fair hair," Sean says, tenderly, of Evie. "She's talking a lot now...."). The other enduring loves of Sean's life are Richard Sharpe, the character he played in fourteen two-hour television movies in the mid-1990s; Lord of the Rings, the project he recently completed filming in New Zealand; gardening;...and Kes, the 1969 film directed by Ken Loach, which tells the story of a 15-year old boy from the north of England, who has limited options in life and a bleak future, who discovers his sense of self and finds a certain power in his relationship with a kestrel he has rescued, nurtured and trained.




Above and Below: Production stills from Kes

"I've watched that one about 30 times," Sean reveals. "Some of the things in that remind me of being a kid at school."

Was he ever bullied as a child? I wonder.

"No," he says, dismissing the idea, but not without some thought. "There's always bigger kids than you.... But it was just a big comprehensive school...and it just all reminded me of a bleak Monday afternoon, with rain pelting down on the football pitch outside...and playing football and freezing...and just the whole thing about it."

"It had a big effect on me. My kids watch it and they love it. It's also a really brilliantly written book by Barry Hines. Fantastic acting...directing...."

"I used to have a kestrel. I had a license for it. I think when people saw Kes, a lot of kids did want to get a kestrel...I've still got a couple of friends who are really still into that, who've been doing it for 30 years...goshawks and lanner falcons, kestrels and sparrowhawks... it wasn't a sort of fad with me, it wasn't a passing craze. I was fascinated by wildlife when I was younger...and natural history...and it's something I still am interested in."    

Sean's interest in wildlife and working outdoors has endured, and occupies a good deal of his time when he's between films. He's passionate about the garden attached to his home in Hampstead, North London.

"I put quite a few trees in last autumn. A lot of silver birch and a couple of native trees - just generally doing gardening, putting plants in and hedges in. It takes quite a lot of time and I love it. Though I'm not very good with indoor plants...they always seem to die. I'm getting a bit better - I think you've got to feed them and each plant requires a different sort of attention. I've loved gardening since I was a kid. We had a next door neighbour, a fellow called Ron Howard, who was a lovely old guy who used to live next to us for years. He taught me a lot about natural history and ornithology and plants...I still have some of his plants that I'm growing in my garden. He died about ten years ago. He was a great fellow. I've always had an interest in those things.... I make bird boxes in the garage and put them up in the trees."

What else does he do when he's not busy working?

"I'm usually catching up on things I should have been doing while I was filming...a pile of mail...and bills. I like reading. I like watching a lot of sports on, boxing... I like cricket a lot. I try to get down to Lords to watch Yorkshire if they're playing down there."

And of course, there's Sheffield United. Sean's zealous support for his team is well-documented and undiminished.

"I'm still going to matches. I've got a good friend who lives in London - he's a Blade as well - so we go up together and try to catch a few matches when we can. They're doing pretty well at the moment." When he's away from England, as he is now, he stays in touch by having faxes sent to him with the match results, and he stays on top of news and sports from home by reading the British newspapers that are available in local shops. "We're playing Nottingham Forest tomorrow," Sean adds, enthusiastically. "They'll ring me up with that."


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