Bean There, Done That

The Scotsman
21 December 2001

HE’S carved out a successful career playing villains in movies such as GoldenEye, Patriot Games and Ronin.

But Sean Bean gets to play the good guy in his new movie, the first part of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy - and it’s clear the Sheffield-born star loves every minute.

The 42-year-old dad of three says his role as the valiant but tormented warrior Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring is the highlight of his prolific career.

"Absolutely, definitely," he says with a broad smile. "It’s been a life-changing experience for me. I only saw the film for the first time recently in New York, and I was quite daunted by the prospect of seeing something I’d been working on for such a length of time. Just to see it as a complete picture was quite overwhelming for me."

It’s hardly surprising he is excited about his involvement in the film. The £190 million epic tale of Hobbits, elves and wizards ranks alongside Harry Potter as one of the most eagerly awaited movies in years.

In the film, Bean joins an all-star ensemble cast, including Elijah Wood, Sir Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett and Sir Ian McKellen, to bring JRR Tolkien’s legendary novel to the big screen.

Tolkien’s saga tells of an ordinary Hobbit called Frodo Baggins who becomes bound up with the fate of the world, which is known as Middle Earth.

Frodo is given a ring by his adoptive uncle Bilbo Baggins, who won it many years before on an adventure, but only realises its true evil much later.

Bilbo’s friend, the wizard Gandalf, learns the ring is magical and was made by the dark lord Sauron, who believed it was lost forever but now knows it still exists and desires it so he can ensnare the world in darkness.

So Frodo embarks on a mission to destroy the ring in the good-versus-evil tale that was shot as a trilogy simultaneously over 18 months in New Zealand.

That meant that anyone who signed up for the movie was in for the long haul, but as Bean explains, he didn’t hesitate about such a major commitment.

"I just thought to myself - what else could compare to this," he smiles. "We all thought it was something special and the prospect of it all was so thrilling.

"I was very flattered to be asked to be part of it by the director Peter Jackson. Being out in New Zealand for that length of time was amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world and a very warm and supportive place to be in work.

"Everyone was so committed and passionate about this that you were just totally immersed in it. I had no second thoughts whatsoever."

Bean enjoyed the experience so much that he has a permanent reminder of his time on the shoot - a new tattoo.

The design spells out the number nine in Elvish, and represents his part as one of the nine members of the Fellowship who band together to try to destroy the ring.

"All of us who played the nine Fellowship had a few drinks one night and thought: ‘That’s a good idea, let’s have a tattoo’," he laughs.

"A few of the others had it done in New Zealand but I finished filming early so I was the last to get it done.

"I was dragged in by Elijah to this steamy little tattoo parlour in New York about five weeks ago and had it done as a permanent reminder.

"But it’s a good indication of how we felt about one another. We grew to became very good friends and that mirrors the quest we took upon ourselves as the Fellowship in the film."

The tattoo will sit neatly alongside a second permanent reminder of Bean’s other great passion - Sheffield United.

The football-mad star has the tattoo 100 per cent Blade, in reference to his favourite team, emblazoned across his shoulder and is as ardent a fan as they come.

Despite his filming commitments throughout the world, Bean goes back to his home city and beloved team as often as he can.

"I’ve still got family and friends there and love to go back. I went there for Christmas, I still regard it as my home," he says.

Bean, who has three daughters - two by his first wife Melanie Hill and a third with actress Abigail Cruttendon, from whom he split last year - says his children are a big influence in his choice of film roles.

"Part of the reason I took The Lord Of The Rings was because I had them in mind," he explains. "It’s great to be in something that they’ll be proud of."

They are also the reason he doesn’t intend to uproot permanently to Hollywood, even though he is big demand there after The Lord Of The Rings.

"This is where my family is and this is my base," he states. "I’m lucky that I can have the blend of both Hollywood and Britain, but I’d love to do more British films, definitely," he adds with a warm smile.

And after his starring role in what looks like being one of the biggest grossing movies of all time, the offers should be coming in thick and fast for the down-to-earth star.

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