Sean Bean - Bean and the Goth

Source: The Guardian
20 August 1990
by John Mulholland

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 War Requiem
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 living."

This week sees him in the premiere of David Spencer's new play, Killing the
Cat (from the Soho Theatre Company) which previews from Thursday at the Royal
Court and has already won its young playwright his second Verity Bargate Award.
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 troubled
vulnerability, and is enthused about the edge of Spencer's writing which deals
with family conflicts - particularly between father and son.

But he admits it's a difficult piece to work on. "It's quite a distressing
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 everyone
involved. Putting yourself in their situation is difficult because you don't
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 impressed with
Bean's approach. "He's always seeking to find what's truthful," says
Dunderdale, former artistic director at the Soho Poly Theatre. Spencer agrees,
"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 interesting to

Disarmingly unassuming, Bean is delighted to have worked recently with John
Hurt on two films: Windprints, set in Africa, and the forthcoming The Field,
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."


Return to the Main Features Page

Return to The Compleat Sean Bean