Britain is striking back with its own breed of tough heroes.
John Mosby was
invited for an exclusive interview with Sean Bean, who has been
scoring goals on
the big screen, and is about to soldier back onto our television
screens in a
new series of Sharpe.
There are many critics out there who are labelling Sean Bean
as the next
'big' British actor. They could have a point, but if that's the
case, the actor
is one of the most unassuming and down-to-earth people you could
wish to meet.
In the last few years, Sean has appeared alongside Harrison Ford
Games), Sting and Melanie Griffiths (Stormy Monday) and Pierce
(Goldeneye). On television he's bared his buttocks as Lady Chatterley's
menaced Clarissa and gone to war as Sharpe. In short, if there's
been a role for
a rough-and-ready type, Sean's been up for it. You'd expect,
then, that Impact's
intrepid reporter would be sipping champagne with him in his
luxury villa in LA,
and mulling over the million dollar contracts. Actually, the
truth is somewhat
more, well, down-to-earth.
We're in Sheffield, where Sean was born and bred...and it's a
pint of bitter,
ta very much!
Nineteen-ninety-six looks set to continue his success story.
released When Saturday Comes has been receiving vast amounts
of publicity and
Bean will be returning to the smaller screen and the role of
Sharpe in the near
future. The 'heart-throb' and 'sex-symbol' tags, then, remain
firmly in place,
but you get the feeling that Sean is a little bit embarrassed
descriptions, lest his mates down at the local pub take the mickey.
enjoying the success, but there's no sign of it going to his
"It's not a bad thing to be labelled that, you know what
I mean?" Sean
laughs. "There's a lot worse I could be called. First and
foremost, though, I
just like acting. I'm no better or worse than anybody else."
When Saturday Comes was more than just another film for Sean.
The story of a
young man determined to avoid a mundane life, reach for the stars
and play for
his beloved Sheffield United struck a chord with the actor. Bean
is a notorious
fan of his home team, and has "100% Blade" tattooed
on his arm, referring to
Sheffield United's nickname, "The Blades". One tale
is that he had the scores
phoned through to him when he was away filming "Sharpe"
in the Ukraine.
"I was working in Bristol when I got the message in my hotel
someone called Jimmy Daly was trying to contact me with regards
to a film called
"A Pint O' Bitter" and about playing a guy who gets
to play for Sheffield
United. I looked at the telephone number and it was a Hollywood
number, so I
was convinced it was a set-up. Jimmy finally got in contact with
me through my
mother. He'd seen me in "Patriot Games" and had said,
'That Sean Bean would be
good for the role. Pity he's Irish!' Of course, he was soon told
that I was
from Sheffield and finally managed to track me down."
Sean met with Jimmy Daly, who also produced Highlander III, and
project, which was loosely based on Daly's experiences. The film
"When Saturday Comes", and Bean was cast as the lead
character Jimmy Muir, who
gets the chance to try out for Sheffield. Will the support of
his trainer (Pete
Postlethwaite) and girlfriend (Emily Lloyd) be enough to catapult
him to his
dream, or will he let them all down? Imagine Rocky meets Roy
of the Rovers and
you'll have an idea what to expect.
"Without doubt, running on to the pitch and scoring for
Sheffield United was
the highlight of my career so far. I may get a lot of excitement
that I do in the future, but I can't imagine anything topping
that. It was an
incredible experience. We filmed the football scenes during half
time at an
actual match, in front of fellow fans, the club you've supported
since you were
a kid and everybody's cheering you on. I just didn't want to
come off. By the
time I did, I was walking on air!"
Like professional footballers, Bean has to keep fit, and he's
building his own
gym. "I suppose the nature of the business...I mean on Sharpe
running up some hill, so that keeps you relatively fit. I try
to keep fit, I run
quite a bit now, especially when I'm not working. I'm trying
to get the gym
built at my house; I don't want to be He-Man or anything like
that, it's more a
matter of not wheezing when I'm filming! I like getting my hands
dirty. I'm in
the garden humping bricks around, out in the fresh air. I just
"In Goldeneye there was obviously stuff that I couldn't
do...diving off a
dam, for a start! But in all the fights, the hand-to-hand stuff
with Pierce at
the end of the movie, we did ourselves. We had a fight arranger.
We go through
it all and then we rehearse and then shoot it. It's great, I
like all the action
stuff, being able to throw people around", he laughs.
Sean has worked with Pete Postlethwaite (another down-to-earth
gentlemanly chap) on Sharpe. They developed a strong friendship,
immediately knew that Pete would be interested in the film as
well. "It's just
great to have Pete involved, he's perfect for it. I've got a
lot of admiration
for him. Over the last few years he's got the recognition he
deserves. I worked
with him at the RSC and shared a dressing room with him for eighteen
You've got to get on to do that!"
The soccer movie also breaks the traditional mould that Bean
himself cast in, movie-wise at least, as the villainous type.
something that bothers him too much. "Obviously some people
"Goldeneye" and think that they should get me because
I played a great villain.
Some of the best parts are villains. If you do a great job, the
the characters that people will remember, but it's good to play
of characters. Even in "Sharpe", the character isn't
exactly a hero. He has
certain qualities. He's rough and can be quite brutal at times,
but that's kind
of the way that I like to see heroes portrayed; not as saintly
like ordinary people."
The new season of Sharpe moves the action from the Ukraine to
"Actually, we did five weeks shooting in England, which
were great, y'know? Then
we went to Turkey. The problem with the Ukraine was that everything
to look very familiar. There's only so many ways you can shoot
the same tree or
rock!" Ironically, Sean probably won't see the broadcast.
He'll be off to St.
Petersburg for the Warner Bros. adaptation of the classic Anna
Tolstoy's romantic hero, another cavalry officer!
Such was the good time that Pete, Sean and Jimmy had on When
it's not surprising to learn that they plan to work together
again. In fact, the
team is setting up it's own production company.
"It's nice to have a core of people that feel like they're
going in the same
direction. Kenneth Brannagh and Martin Scorcese do it, so why
It's a good family of people."