Sean Bean on training for roles in 'Troy' and 'The Lord of the Rings'

Source: World Stunt Awards
June 2004
You've just completed one of the most physical films in years, playing
Odysseus in "Troy." Did you prepare for it endlessly?
SB: I was doing a play in the West End (of London), so I didn't have a
great deal of time to prepare. I did a little bit of training in
London, and once we got to Malta we had all these facilities that the
production company provided, trainers and everything. They wanted
everybody to look good because we were all supposed to be playing Greek
warriors. Then I did a lot of preparation with Simon Crane, the stunt
coordinator (and 2nd unit director).
Were you in the gym every day?
SB: That's counter-productive after a while, in terms of putting muscle
on, so I just went in about three times a week. I had this wonderful
woman, Eunice Huthart, and she's a Liverpudlian (from Liverpool,
England) and she's an amazing stunt woman, but she is also a very good
trainer. She was a tremendous help in getting me fit. Basically we did
a bit of the cardiovascular, then a few weights, and we got quite a
regular routine and by the end I was really enjoying it. I wasn't
really into it at first, but we formed a good friendship. She pushed us
to do more, and it was very enjoyable at the same time. If you can have
a laugh and a joke with the stunt men and trainers, that makes a big
difference. Sometimes I trained with Brian Cox (who plays Agamemnon).
But we didn't have a great deal of time. We'd spend most of our time
watching these Bulgarian stunt guys diving into the sea and almost
breaking their necks - they're just pretty crazy!
How hard was the filming?
SB: There were a lot of fights, and we got a few knocks and bruises,
but these fights were really well rehearsed and Simon was quite clear
about that. Toward the end, there was quite a complicated sequence,
part of a montage where the walls of Troy are falling down, and we are
lighting fires and pillaging, and a statue had to fall at the same time
as a fireball erupted and horses run through and we're battling our way
to the other end of the set. That took a long time to set up, and we
knew each time it didn't work they had to put out the fires, put the
statue back, re-dress it all. It was our big number and we were running
out of time, and an hour later there'd be lorries (trucks) coming to
remove the set! Simon was in charge - he was under pressure, as we all
were, to get this sequence. And he got it, and there was like this
jubilation! We had one last take, and that was it! And we got it and it
was a great feeling - and it's great in the film.
The actors did most of the fighting themselves. How much of a back-up
team of stunt men was there?
SB: We always had people around us. If it was a particularly difficult
moment, Simon would make sure that there were quite experienced guys
around you. It wouldn't matter so much in the background, but around
the action you wanted people who knew what they were doing, so you felt
secure and confident.
Did you do much weapons training?
SB: Yes, we did that. As soon as we got there, if we weren't working,
we'd spend two or three hours training with those swords and shields.
We'd do three hours in the morning. Shields are not that heavy, but
they can be after three hours! It's very intrinsic to the whole thing.
They were so much a part of the way they (the Greeks and Trojans)
fought, that it was almost like an extra appendage.
Had you ever fought with shields before?
SB: I fought with shields in 'Lord of the Rings,' but not as much as in
'Troy,' where it was very much part of everyone's style of fighting -
and the swords were not very long, only about a foot-and-a-half, like
daggers. They weren't broadswords, they were quite vicious in a way.
Did you train as much for 'Lord of the Rings'?
SB: That was a similar situation. When we got to New Zealand, we were
fighting with Bob Anderson, this old stunt guy, who was great and who
trained Errol Flynn, and we had some good guys on that, like George
Marshall Ruge. In the end, the sequence where I get killed, we trained
for that for about seven or eight months, from day one. We were with
the stunt guys in this sort of army barracks and we had to do a couple
of hours of fighting three or four times a week and just create this
fight and then modify it and polish it, so by the time we came to film,
we didn't waste any time trying to get the moves right. I remember when
we did, you've got people coming at you from every angle and there's a
lot of twisting and turning and spinning, and here the weapons were
heavy, they were quite heavy swords, and so that was quite tough. And
the conditions were difficult. It was quite flat in 'Troy,' but in
'Lord of the Rings' we were in an ancient forest and it wasn't that
firm underneath and you could easily trip.
How do you make sure you don't?
SB: It's just concentration. And that's one thing I've learned to
value: Concentration. Even so, I got a few knocks on the hand, and a
bit of a clunk on my thumb.
But I have been lucky. I have never had an experience where I felt
anything other than really secure and very confident with the stunt
men. They can make or break a film - especially on 'Troy.' They had
more than 50 on that who were really good, then others on the periphery
with some experience, and toward the back lines the ordinary people.
The stunt men are the heart and soul of these epics.


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