Shaun “Sean” Bean is a renowned stage and screen actor who has fulfilled many significant roles in well known productions. He is also famous for having the most number of screen deaths of any actor. His characters have been killed off on no less than twenty occasions.
Bean was born in Handsworth, Sheffield on April 17th 1959 and grew up in the city from a middle-class family background.
His first love was football and as a child dreamed of making it professionally in the sport. A leg injury sustained when he cut himself on a piece of glass during an argument left him with a massive scar on his leg, which ended his hopes of a professional playing career. After a few years of working in several low grade jobs and his family’s firm, Bean decided to turn his hand to acting.
He was accepted on a drama course at the London Academy of Dramatic Art in 1981 before graduating two years later.
Like with many young, aspiring actors, their first forages into live performance came on the stage. Sean Bean’s first professional acting performance was as “Tybalt” in Romeo & Juliet at Newbury Theatre in 1983. In 1986 he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he spent the next two years touring with the famous group, appearing in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Romeo & Juliet once again.
In the mid- 1980s Bean turned his hand to film acting and made his debut in Derek Jarman’s “Carvaggio,” a bio-pic of the Baroque painter. He also appeared in small screen productions in the late 1980s 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, “the rugged soldier,” was brought out in one of his best known TV roles in the TV series, “Sharpe,” which ran from 1993-97. These adaptations of the book by Bernard Cornwall chart the rise of Bean’s fictional character, Richard Sharpe from Seargeant to lieutenant Colonel during the Napoleonic Wars. In a twist of fate, Bean stepped in at last minute to take on this part because their original choice, Paul McGann injured himself while playing football and did not recover in time to take on this physical role.
One of Sean Bean’s first famous screen deaths came in “The Patriot Games,” (1992) where he 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.
One of the films which 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. The role suited Bean in that, as a former player in his teenage years, plus the fact that he is a lifelong Blades supporter, made him the ideal person to be involved with the film.
Bean’s rugged northern looks, not only makes him a hit with the fairer sex but also makes him an ideal person to play a villain. This ultimately led him to playing the biggest one of them all- the Bond Villain.
In Goldeneye (1996) he plays Alec Trevelyan, secret agent 006, who fakes his own death and forms a crime syndicate who want to launch a satellite weapon with the Soviets during the Cold War. In true Bond and Bean style his on-screen death was dramatic, in that he was finally thrown at great height off a satellite by 007 played by Pierce Brosnan.
Another villainous and heroic death came in “Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” (2001) when his 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 cast around the film set in the mountains of New Zealand. Apparently on one occasion he used a ski lift dressed in 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. He also came second in the UK’s sexiest man competition in the following year.
Around this time Bean started to do voice-over work and had has appeared in several British advertising campaigns for 02, National Blood service and Barnardos amongst others.
Throughout the noughties Bean continued to play important roles in several films, including 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 he starred in a three part drama called “Red Riding,” which was based on the Yorkshire Ripper murders of the 1970s and 80s. 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 has recently 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.
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.