Sean Bean – Life, Career & Where He is Now

Sean Bean is a renowned stage and screen actor who has fulfilled many significant roles in well known productions. He’s also famous for being the actor who has the most screen deaths. So far his characters have been killed off 24 times.

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Growing Up

On the 17th of April in 1959, Shaun Bean was born in Handsworth, Sheffield. He grew up from a middle-class family background in the South Yorkshire city.

Sean’s first love was football and as a child he dreamed of turning the sport into a career. However, this was soon cut short when he sustained a leg injury after cutting himself on a piece of glass during an argument which left him with a scar on his leg. As a result, this put an end to his hopes of becoming a professional football player.


The Beginning of His Career

Sean Bean left his local high school with O levels in Art and English and soon after he got a job at a supermarket, the local council, and his father’s firm. At this time, Sean was unsure what he wanted to do career wise after becoming a professional footballer was no longer an option.

Bean decided to study welding once a week at Rotherham College. It was here that he realised his creative side so when he found an art class, Sean decided to pursue a career in art.

Soon after, Sean returned to Rotherham College and enrolled in a drama course. He starred in a few college plays, one being at the Rotherham Civic Theatre, and in 1981 won a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Like many young aspiring actors, their first experience in live performance came on the stage. Sean Bean’s first debut as a professional actor was as Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet at Newbury Theatre in 1983.

In 1986, he was given the opportunity to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sean spent the next two years touring with the famous group, appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo & Juliet once again.

First Film Roles

In the mid 1980’s, Sean Bean turned his hand to film acting. The young actor made his debut in Derek Jarman’s Carvaggio which was a biopic of the Baroque painter.

Sean also appeared in small screen productions in the late 1980’s such as the BBC adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s (1988) alongside Joely Richardson, and Clarissa which first brought Sean Bean to national attention. His portrayal of a passionate lover and angst-ridden villain in these two productions gave him a strong reputation in playing these types of roles.

The third classic Bean character was the rugged soldier which was brought out in one of his best known TV roles in the TV series Sharpe which ran from 1993 to 1997. These adaptations of the book by Bernard Cornwall charted the rise of Bean’s fictional character Richard Sharpe from sergeant to lieutenant colonel during the Napoleonic Wars.

In a twist of fate, Bean stepped in at the last minute to take on this part. Their original choice Paul McGann injured himself while playing football and did not recover in time to take on this physical role.

Sean Bean’s First Screen Death

Sean Bean has become famous for his many deaths on screen. One of his very first famous screen deaths came in The Patriot Games (1992). Bean played an Irish Terrorist who ended up being beaten to death by a boat anchor and metal pole by the protagonist played by Harrison Ford.

When Saturday Comes

One film that will forever be associated with Sean Bean is When Saturday Comes (1996). The film is about an amateur footballer Jimmy Muir who plays for his local team Hallam FC before being scouted by his beloved Sheffield United.

This role suited Bean perfectly. Sean himself was a former player in his teenage years and has been a lifelong Blades supporter which made him the ideal person to be involved with the film.

A Yorkshire Bond Villain

Beans’s rugged northern looks not only make him a hit with people, they also make him an ideal person to play a villain. This ultimately led him to play the biggest one of them all – the Bond Villain.

In Goldeneye (1996), Sean plays Alec Trevelyan who is the secret service agent 006. Alec fakes his own death and forms a crime syndicate who wants to launch a satellite weapon with the Soviets during the Cold War.

In true Bond and Bean style, Sean’s on-screen death was dramatic. At the end of the film he was finally thrown at great height off of a satellite by 007 played by Pierce Brosnan.

Lord of the Rings

Sean Beans character Boromir’s demise in Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the ring (2001). (Image source:

Another villainous and heroic death came in Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). Sean’s character Boromir ends up with several arrows lodged in his body during a battle.

Shooting his scenes in the Lord of The Rings movie proved difficult due to Bean’s fear of flying in helicopters which transported the caster around the film set in the mountains of New Zealand. Apparently, on one occasion he used a ski lift dressed in his full warrior costume to move from one location to another and hiked the rest of the way.


In 2002, Sean Bean made a brief but very successful return to the stage when he played Macbeth in the Scottish play. His interpretation of the role and performance meant that the show’s run was extended into 2003. The following year, he also came second in the UK’s sexiest man competition.

Voice-over Work

Around this time, Sean Bean started to do voice-over work. His voice has appeared in several British advertising campaigns such as O2, National Blood Service, and Barnardos amongst others.

Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones season 1.
Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones season 1. (Image source:

Films, Dramas & TV Series

Throughout the noughties, Bean continued to play important roles in several films. These include Troy (2004), Silent Hill (2005), and Black Death (2010), a horror film in which he won a Chainsaw Award for best actor at the Screamfest horror film festival.

In 2009, Sean starred in a three part drama called Red Riding which was based on the Yorkshire Ripper murders of the 1970’s and 1980’s. In 2012, he also won an award for best actor at the Royal Television Society awards for his role as a cross-dressing teacher in the TV series Accused.

Sean Bean has continued his varied acting career to the present day. He starred in the very popular TV series Game of Thrones as Eddard Stark in the first season in 2011. In true Bean style, he only made it to episode nine before another epic on screen death.

Where is Sean Bean Now?

Sean Bean shows no signs of slowing down. He has gone on to play further roles in films such as Jupiter Ascending, Legends, and Pixels as well as the BBC drama Time.

Bean has also featured in a Yorkshire Tea advert. This has received mixed reviews by the audience but he’s created another famous line as a result – “do it for Yorkshire!”

This Yorkshire actor has maintained an interesting and varied career. His versatility and instinctive acting, along with his rugged good looks have made him a huge hit in whatever production he has starred in.