Sean Bean
(Language warning)

March 1996

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The star of When Saturday Comes on whippets, strippers and Liz Hurley

Jimmy Muir, the character you play in When Saturday Comes, is typically gritty northern footballer. Is that you?

I've not done some of the things that he's done - like play for Sheffield United - but for the part, I didn't have to do much research, because I know what it's like spending a lot of time in boozers up north.

What's the most you've drunk in one session?

I don't know, maybe 16 plus.

What do you drink?

Mostly lager. I like Stone's and Ward's though.

In the film you say, "They're a right bunch of posers in London." Do you think that's right?

Yes. (Laughs). No, I've lived down here about 13 years, although I do think that it's a healthy attitude to have - you know, you've got your lines line "dirty northern bastards" and "sheep-shaggers" and stuff, so we've got ours.

What's so good about up north?

What isn't good? The beer's better - you get more head on it. And I always find it more laid-back. I feel comfortable and relaxed, and I enjoy the humour. There's humour everywhere, but like anybody, you grow up with that humour when you're a little kid, and it stays with you.

So you wouldn't consider moving to Hollywood or anything like that?

No, I've never even thought about it. You'd end up sending your dog to a psychiatrist, as well as yourself. And I'd miss my family, my football - everything. I'd miss the matches when it's a frosty Saturday afternoon, and there's a low mist on the pitch, and the lights are crackling, and everybody's freezing...

Do you have a flat cap or a whippet?

Nah, I'm not old enough. You've got to be about 65 to qualify for them. But I'm looking forward to it. And a ferret, down me trousers.

You have to do a love scene with Emily Lloyd. What was it like with all the crew watching?

Well, Emily banished most people from the set actually. It was all right though, quite enjoyable.

What happens if you get a stiffy?

You just make sure of where you're putting it. Be aware of it. It's not happened to me that many times, but I have had a bit of a semi.

With Emily or someone else?

A selection. It depends what they're like, y'know.

Is the scene in the communal bath a bit gay?

Do you think so? It never occurred to me. I think that it should be seen as sporting, as something that footballers do. It's one for the ladies.

There's one scene where you seem to know how to do an excellent head-butt. Have you ever given someone a Glasgow kiss?

Once, a long time ago. There was a bit of a scuffle in a nightclub in Sheffield and I ended up sticking one on somebody. I've also had it done to me, although I try to avoid those kind of situations nowadays.

Did you enjoy shooting the stripper scene?

That were one of the highlights of the film for a lot of the people involved. We were in a nightclub at ten o'clock in the morning, with suits on, and there were all these gorgeous birds dancing about with nowt on in front of us. It were a good day.

You went to RADA. Is it a bit poncy?

No, I don't know where that reputation came from. A lot of the people that I was there with were from Liverpool, Leeds, Ireland, Scotland, etc. There was a really good mix of people. They weren't affected in any way.

Do Americans have trouble with your accent?

When I went there a few years ago, they all seemed to think I was an Aussie. I went into a shop once and the man in there said to me, "Australian?" And I said, "No, I'm from Sheffield." It's weird. Then you say "Sheffield in Yorkshire" and they go "York- shire?" in that American way. It's fucking Yorkshire! Older than the place you're in. You've only been going for 200 years."

In the final scene of the film, are most of the lads real footballers?

A lot of them were semi-professional. We used a lot of players from Boston United. And Mel Sterland (ex-Sheffield Wednesday) were involved in a lot of the choreography. He's the captain.

Can footballers act?

He were pretty good, Mel, but all the footballers said to me, "Stick to acting." They should stick to fucking football.

What about Escape to Victory?

I enjoyed it. I like films about football. It's notoriously hard to shoot and a lot of directors won't touch it, they just think that you can't capture it. But I think we did to an extent, because we didn't concentrate on any fancy moves. We just got the spirit of the game. You know, the thuds and the lugs and the like.

What's your record at keepy-uppy?

I used to be able to do about 160 when I were about 14. I once had a bet outside a boozer with a mate of mine, Neil Barnes, and he said, "Go on, Beany, I bet you can't keep this fucking ball up for longer than ten times." I took the bet, even though I had a few pints on board, and I managed to do 12. It were quite satisfying."

Why do you support Sheffield United as opposed to Wednesday? How is the city split?

I suppose a few years back there were more of a division as to where you grew up and lived. I think people move around a lot more now, but still you'll find that one end of the city supports United, and the other supports Wednesday. I've always been a United-ite because my great-grandad and my grandad and my dad all were. I've never really known anything else."

Do you have a party trick?

I once ate a dragonfly.


Somebody said, "I bet you daren't eat that dragonfly." So I said, "I will - and I'll chew it." And I swallowed it. I don't know what came over me - I mean, I quite like dragonflies an' all."

What are you most afraid of?

I'm scared of cockroaches, I've had some bad experiences with them in Russia. Every time you opened the fridge, you'd see thousands of them.

You wouldn't eat one, then?

No. I know Nicholas Cage ate a live cockroach once, but I can't say I would. I might eat a woodlouse, at a pinch.

If Hugh Grant suggested the two of you go for a night on the tiles, would you go?

Yes, but I'd take a camera.

There was a scene in Sharpe where Liz Hurley shows you her tits. How many times did you have to shoot it?

Many, many times. We did it about 35, 40 times. Long shot, medium shot, close up.

Hugh Grant says they're the best tits in England. Is that true?

He's not far wrong. No, they are. Well, it was a couple of years ago, but they were a fine pair.

If you could murder someone and get away with it, who would it be?

The bloke who did the re-wiring in my house. He made a right mess of it, so if I could find out where he lives, I'd probably do him.

And if you ended up on Death Row, how would you decorate your cell?

Probably put up some unobtrusive wallpaper, with a few nice pictures. You know, birds and clouds and happy days.

Women love you. What's the secret?

It's the sideboards... I dunno, I've had a lot of parts where I've played a bad lad, and they seem to like that.

Have you been a bastard in some of your real-life relationships?

Sometimes I've been a bit of a twat. I've always gone along life in the way I want to, and I think that has caused a couple of problems. It's better than trying to please everybody all the time.

My friend wants to know if you'll shag her...

Oh yeah? What's she like?

She's fucking nice, actually.

Yeah? Er...I can't really, to tell you the truth.

Interview by confirmed southerner Ivor Baddiel.

When Saturday Comes is released on March 1.


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