I'D RATHER MAKE WAR NOT LOVE
Bean's Mean Scenes
Sean shows off his brawn on the battlefield
Sean Bean, the hottest male on television, is back on our screens
next month in
three new adventures. Sharpe's Enemy, Sharpe's Honour and Sharpe's
set to repeat last year's success of the daring exploits of 19th-century
officer (Richard Sharpe - the British hero who self-determinedly
rose up from
the ranks to be a leader of men.
The series, based on the Bernard Cornwell best-sellers about
wars, was filmed over 18 weeks in location in the Ukraine.
"In one way, it's like every boy's dream," says Sean.
"You get up in the
morning, go off and sword fence, kill a few Frenchies and then
come back and get
drunk at the bar with the rest of the lads."
But conditions were harsh, with physically demanding scenes in
the bitter cold
of the Russian mid-winter.
"The reality is that it's bloody hard work, filming all
through the night and
doing battle scenes with hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers at temperatures
freezing. And it was extremely tiring."
One scene called for the 34-year old actor to ride his beast
of a horse across a
remote, valley stream. It was - 5C, and as he crossed the icy
cold water for
about the 10th take, Sean lost his grip. He slid slowly down
the horse's back
and into the freezing stream. The Sheffield-born former welder
bruised and battered body out of the water - only to give the
production team a huge grin.
For despite the rigours of shooting the series, the man who has
described as "the middle-class woman's bit of rough"
was born to the role of the
Napoleonic war daredevil. "I love Sharpe, he's very much
like me and I can
identify with him," says Sean about the TV soldier there
may be plans to make a
full-length film about.
"He's an ordinary guy who's had to drag himself up through
the system so he can
make himself a success.
"I love all the action scenes, the sword fighting and, believe
it or not, I can
ride a horse. And, like Sharpe, I won't run from a fight. I will
stand my ground
for something I believe in. But I won't go looking for a fight
- it's a lot less
painful that way." He may love the role but it's when the
cameras stop rolling
that the grimness of the conditions hits Sean. He feels more
than a little
homesick for his 31-year-old wife Melanie Hill, who shot to fame
as Aveline in
Bread, and his two daughters, six-year-old Lorna and Molly, two.
"I don't think it's the right place to bring the family
to, nothing here works.
So I have to keep in touch with them as best as I can by phone.
But when I did
manage to get home for a while, I was right choked when Molly
walked to me. I'd
missed her taking her first steps. It hit me hard." He also
longs for good old
English cooking and British beer. So much so that wife Melanie
special food lift for her husband from their home in Muswell
Hill, North London.
His sparse hotel room was stacked high with culinary reminders
of home - cans of
beans, microwave curries and pre-packed meals for one.
The basic, no-frills accommodation is a far cry from the luxurious
we've seen him in on our screens, usually spread-eagled naked
across a bed.
But he explains in his broad South Yorkshire accent, "I'd
much rather play
Sharpe than I would all those sexy roles, it doesn't matter who
I'm doing them
with. Of course, I'll still do them when the parts come along,
if they're good,
but I squirm when I see some of my nude scenes. Sometimes they
can be very
difficult to put up with."
Last November, in Sean's bedroom romps with Theresa Russell in
A Woman's Guide
To Adultery, viewers were treated to several lingering shots
of his naked
Now he reveals, "I don't really like showing my bum all
over the place. Sure,
it sounds like fun getting to bed all these glamorous women,
but it's not all
that great. I don't get turned on by it at all. It's nice to
be thought of as
a sex symbol, but I don't think I am - I'm just doing a job.
At times, doing
bedroom scenes can get quite embarrassing."
Before that, last June, came his raunchy role as gamekeeper Mellors
Russell's controversial BBC series Lady Chatterley, which costarred
Richardson. "I remember how stupid I felt when Ken asked
me to run through a
field naked. The corn just covered my naughty bits and there
were two bloody big
speakers blasting out music at either end of the field. I thought,
bloody hell is this about?' and laughed."
One of Sean's most embarrassing moments was when he settled down
to watch Lady
Chatterley at home with Melanie. "She hadn't seen the raunchy
bits. So when the
scenes with Joely were about to come on, I had to get up and
say to her, 'Do
you fancy a cuppa?' just to get out of the room.
"Mel had no idea the scenes were that bad. I must admit,
there was a silence
afterwards. It was the same when we were lying in bed reading
the papers one
Sunday morning before Chatterley was screened. Suddenly, she
saw some photos
from the series with me and Joely in the nude. Mel was surprised
but she knows
it's my job."
The couple married in February 1990 after having lived together
for eight years.
Sean popped the question as they sat watching a TV programme
about marriage. "I
just turned to Mel and said, 'How do yer fancy a bit of that
then?"' It seems
all the more unromantic in the light of Sean's role in Scarlett,
the 27 million pound
TV sequel to Gone With The Wind. As Luke Fenton, he is a lover
of the heroine
played by Joanne Whalley-Kilmer.
Melanie's and Sean's first date they met as students at the drama
school RADA -
wasn't the stuff of Mills & Boon, either. It was a trip to
the cinema to see the
grim war movie Gallipoli. Says Sean, "I think our marriage
works because we're
very ordinary people. We'll pop down to the local takeaway rather
than go to a
fancy restaurant. At drama school, I wasn't sure what to expect
from actors. I
thought they all talked like Sir John Gielgud. But my lecturer
told me not to
change or lose my Sheffield accent. And I'm glad I haven't. I'd
much rather be a
Part of being a normal bloke is standing on the terraces at Bramall
watching Sheffield United with his mates. "I'll go and see
the lads any day.
Supporting the Blades means everything," says Sean, who
even has a bench seat
from the soccer ground inside his home. On his arm, his tattoo
Blade. "Not bad for two quid, is it?
"Now I've been made president of the balloons at the ground,
the ones that are
blown up and released during matches. That's what I call living.
You know you've
made it when they make you president of the balloons."