- Interview by Joe Utichi, Rotten Tomatoes
- Sean Bean Interview
Rotten Tomatoes UK sits down for a chat with one of Britain's
- Sean Bean.
- Outlaw America's favourite bad-guy,
Sean Bean, is without shadow of a doubt a
- legend. From Sharpe to Lord of the Rings,
Bean has been a dominating presence
- in British film and television. Famed
for his ability to pick challenging and
- interesting projects - not to mention
for being a favourite of the ladies - Bean
- has carved one of the most successful
acting careers of his generation.
- So suffice to say Rotten Tomatoes UK
leapt at the chance to have an extended
- chat with Bean to talk about his career
and his latest role, in Nick Love's new
- film Outlaw, in which he plays the leader
of a vigilante gang determined to
- right what they see as the wrongs of
society. With guns.
- RT-UK: What do you think of the film?
- Sean Bean: I saw it about two weeks
ago with Nick actually. I really enjoyed it.
- It's pretty hard-hitting and I was pretty
quiet when I came out. I didn't really
- know what to say when I first came out.
Nick had obviously seen it a few
- times so he was wondering why I was
being so quiet! [laughs]
- It's pretty relentless and there's a
lot to take in. There are so many different
- issues that it deals with and it just
sort of rolls along and smashes you in the
- face. It's certainly got a sort-of poetic
feel to it. You can identify with these
- guys, and I think that's the most important
thing. People in this country and
- this society today are going to be able
to identify with them. There are things
- happening in this country that people
are getting very confused and isolated
- by and the film deals with those issues.
- RT-UK: What appealed about the script?
- SB: I'd not really seen a script when
I first met Nick; he had it all in his head![laughs]
- I met with Nick and Allan Niblo, the
producer, to talk about the project and he was
- very excited about it; as I was by the
prospect of working with him because I find
- him a very exciting director. He does
what he wants to do and he does pieces of
- work that really mean something to him.
He can put things across that people
- find really relevant and are concerned
about. I just find him a very exciting
- individual; it excited me to have an
opportunity to work with him.
- What he had in mind for this project
was also something that really intrigued me.
- He took me through it for about an hour
or two and said, "This'll all be down on
- paper in three weeks." And I was
sort-of blown-away by it, the idea and the way
- he wanted to present it. From that moment
on I said, "Yeah, I want to be involved
- in this." Every actor wants to
find a piece of work that's this innovative and powerful
- and moving. The characters were original
and well-drawn. This project, and his
- enthusiasm and passion for it, were
what really made me want to work with him.
- I was initially interested and keen
to make it work before I even saw the script,
- because projects like this don't come
by every day.
- And then when I got the script it was
everything he said it'd be. I didn't have a
- single reservation about it; it was
just pretty much up my street and I thought
- a lot of actors would have jumped at
the chance of playing any of those parts
- because they're very well written. They're
forced over the edge, really, and they
- do have lives. Deep down they're decent
people - which I think most people in
- this country are - but they're tipped
over the edge by a government and a
- justice system that's not serving.
- RT-UK: As you say, it deals with
subject matter we can all relate to.
- SB: It does. I could understand where
he was coming from. You only have to pick
- up a paper these days to see the sort
of scams and injustices that are out there.
- There's a sense that people don't belong
and just aren't very happy. They're
- outraged, in fact, and they're being
shafted left, right and centre. I think this
- guy actually draws that together and
gets a group of people organised to
- actually do something about it.
- You've only got to walk into a pub or
a café or anything and you'll find people
- talking about these things; topics they're
very unhappy with. You feel as though
- things are being eroded and people don't
know where they belong anymore. They
- don't seem to know where they stand
in society. At the same time people are
- getting stabbed, beaten up. Things are
just getting out of control.
- In forming this gang, though, I think
it's about concern for those people who
- are being wronged by society - and it's
made up of those people, really - as
- opposed to a desire to be shamelessly
violent. I think that's what makes the
- film really stand up because I think
most of us can understand feeling like that.
- RT-UK: Was it exciting, too, to get
back into British film? I guess this is your first
- project back since the Lord of The
- SB: Yeah, I guess the last film I made
over here was Essex Boys, which was
- about six years ago. That was a good
piece of work, I enjoyed that a lot.
- Since then I've been working a lot in
North America and South America.
- To be back here working on something
that was so related to this country
- and to issues that really reflect Britain
- that was incredibly exciting. Just
- to be part of an independent film in
the UK was something that was very
- important to me after working on a lot
of big American projects. And to do
- it with someone like Nick, who is so
passionate about this country, was a
- very big thing for me.
- RT-UK: You seem to be quite good
choosing interesting projects from both
- sides, Hollywood and independent;
do you have any rules about the kinds of
- films you'll do?
- SB: To be honest, you have to do a big
Hollywood film to get enough money to
- do a good independent film! [laughs]
I'd love to be working on films like
- Outlaw for a long, long time to come
but unfortunately we haven't got the
- sort of set up in this country that
they have in Los Angeles for instance
- and the money's not as great and the
exposure, but it's much more gratifying
- and rewarding as an actor to work on
something like this. I did a film called
- The Hitcher just after I did Outlaw
and before that I did another independent
- film called True North. I kind-of try
and balance it up for a bit, get some money
- in the bank and think, "I can do
what I want now for the next few months.
- I can do some proper stuff!" [laughs]
- Bean (right) in Outlaw with
co-star Danny Dyer.
- RT-UK: Who is Bryant?
- SB: He's a former Army officer who's
spent a lot of time in different parts of the
- world - Afghanistan, Serbia, Iraq...
- and he's just returned to the UK from his
- latest tour in Iraq. And he's generally
disillusioned. We don't actually know what
- happened to him there, but he's kind-of
borne of the general impressions of the
- current conflict. He's disillusioned
by what he was doing out there and by the
- state of the country he's come back
to, which I suppose many people are these
- days. He feels alone and very cut-off
from the rest of society. There's a general
- sense of uneasiness about him and disappointment.
- I think he's seen so much in his life.
He's seen the injustices of war and he's
- returned home to witness injustice in
this country; people being abused by the
- system and people getting away with
great injustices. He decides he's going to
- take it into take it into his own hands,
as it were. I don't think that's intentional
- right from the beginning, but it's certainly
something that grows within him and
- eventually evolves into something substantial;
which is the idea of forming a
- group of people to actually do something
about it. And so he does; he brings
- these people together to right these
wrongs. He's kind-of the leader of this
- band of outlaws.
- RT-UK: The characters all seem to
be pulled from different backgrounds
- and I get the impression the same
is true of the actors playing them - how
- have you been getting on with them?
- SB: You're right. Though I suppose we're
all actors so we do have things in
- common to talk about! [laughs] The characters
do come from very different
- backgrounds, though. Rupert Friend,
for instance, who plays Sandy Mardell;
- he plays a character in the film who
goes to public school and was attacked
- by a gang and has never looked the same
again - they pull his face
- apart, basically.
- We've been getting on really well. With
some of Nick's other work, we've seen
- characters from a similar background
and how their relationships work, whereas
- here we're seeing lots of people from
very different backgrounds and the film
- explores how they mix.
- I suppose Bryant is closest to Danny
Dyer's character, Dekker, in that we're
- from a quite working-class background.
But then you've got Lennie [James],
- who plays a barrister, and the posh
one, Sandy. Not to forget Sean Harris who
- plays the nutter! [laughs] Well, he's
not a nutter; he's a lonely man who's had
- too much time to spend reading football
hooligan magazines and war magazines.
- They're very much a motley crew but
I think they get on very well because of
- their different backgrounds and because
they're very disparate. They have
- genuine reasons for what they do, and
it's not about them trying to outdo
- each other. The violence comes from
their situations and they're good people.
- You look at my character, he's a good
man, he's a strong man and he's done
- everything he was supposed to be doing
all his life. The same with Bob Hoskins'
- character, he's done everything he's
supposed to be doing all his life and he's
- got f*ck all to show for it, really.
These are people who are completely
- disillusioned and bitter and they decide
to turn to other forms of justice.
- Bean in Outlaw with co-stars
Danny Dyer and Sean Harris.
- RT-UK: How have you been enjoying
the Nick Love experience so far?
- SB: It's been great! Quite... unusual
- I've never experienced anything quite
- like this before! [laughs]
- He is very hands on and very, you know,
passionate and very raw. It's really
- exciting to be with someone like that
who wrote the thing and knows the
- script like the back of his hand. He
can quote the lines; he knows every
- character's lines. He sort-of lives
and breathes this film. It's very heartfelt,
- what he's put down on paper, and I think
we're all finding it very inspiring
- and very exhilarating to get that across.
Every scene comes off the page so
- beautifully and so brilliantly; it comes
alive. I've never quite experienced
- that before. Usually you're struggling
with a scene; perhaps it's not quite
- written right and you're just struggling
to bring it to life. With this, the
- job has been done for you. It's quite
- RT-UK: So it's making it easier for
you to involve with your character just
- by being around a director so involved
with the film?
- SB: It does; you can immerse yourself
in the part and in the feel of the piece.
- He's also cast it so well; all these
people have histories and back-stories and
- they're not just written to sort-of
supplement me or support me. There's a sense
- that the characters have all got a story.
There's no need to invent anything
- because they're written so well that
you're immediately clear who these people
- are. When they all come together it's
really quite explosive. And because
- everyone knows what they're doing there's
a really strong chemistry; things
- evolve and develop that you never expected.
Nick's so hands-on and excited;
- that's infectious.
- RT-UK: Has this experience made you
want to work with him again?
- SB: Yeah, I'd love to work with him
again because I get on with him really well.
- And I mean it when I say I've never
worked with a director like him before by the
- way! [laughs] He's the sort of guy that
I enjoyed very much working with and for
- and we had a great working relationship;
he's brilliant with actors and he creates
- a fantastic feeling on set. He made
everyone welcome on the crew; you can
- have a laugh with him. You know what
he's like, he doesn't give a sh*t, does
- he, and he makes the films he wants
to make which is brilliant these days. He
- just says, "This is what I want
to do and that's it. I'm not going to f*cking
- pander to what the studios want or what's
PC or what's not." And I admire that
- passion, that fire. He's also a very
intelligent guy and he's not just doing this
- kind of thing for effect; it's something
he feels very deeply down inside. There
- are reasons for the things that he writes
about; they're relevant and important.
- I'd much rather be working with something
like this with a director like him than
- working on something that's very-much
plot based with cardboard characters. He
- more or less lets you do what you want,
he's very open to ideas and he's just an
- exciting guy to be around.
- RT-UK: In terms of next steps for
you, I understand you're about to play
- SB: This is something that's been talked
about for a while now. I think they're
- still trying to get it together. Friends
of mine called Nick Saunders and Vincent
- Regan - who's an actor who was in Troy
with me - they put the thing together.
- It's a great script but it's just about
getting the financing for it, like anything
- else. Tilda Swinton wanted to play Lady
Macbeth which I was very excited
- about having worked with her on Caravaggio
many years ago. Everything's set
- up for it but it's still in the producer's
hands right now. It's something I'd very
- much like to be involved with but it's
difficult to get these things off the ground.
- If you're given a chance you can show
just how exciting Shakespeare can be
- and certainly, in this case, how dark
it can be. Trying to convince people to
- finance a film that's dark, gritty and
independent; that's the challenge. It's
- quite a hard sell.
- I'm also doing an Oscar Wilde adaptation,
A Woman of No Importance, which
- should be starting in about four weeks.
That'll be a change for me, anyway.
- It's with Annette Bening and Jessica
Biel; I'm playing a guy called Lord
- Illingworth who's a bit of a charmer
- a bit of a lad, really, in the late
- nineteenth century. [laughs] It's definitely
an independent project and the
- director is a guy called Bruce Beresford.
It's probably as opposite as you can
- get to Outlaw!
- RT-UK: Back to the period piece?
Was Sharpe the last period piece you did?
- SB: Yeah. I did a lot of stuff when
I was younger when the BBC was doing a lot of
- period pieces. I did a film called Clarissa
and Anna Karenina and, of course, Sharpe.
- It's been probably eight or nine years
since I've done anything like this. I'm looking
- forward to it. I've played pretty contemporary
figures over the past year or so and
- they've tended to be quite psychotic!
[laughs] I'm quite looking forward to a
- change, this guy's very urbane, very
dapper, and very humorous. It's just something
- that's a bit of a challenge for me -
trying to get my head around that - and
- it'll be nice to do something different.
Especially Oscar Wilde, I've always
- been interested in his material. The
film's been on and off for about a year
- and it's finally got the green light
so I'm pretty pleased about that now.