Sean Bean is as famous for his rugged looks and thick northern British accent as the many creative ways in which he dies on-screen. He’s been stabbed, shot, chased off a cliff, tossed off a satellite dish, beheaded, exploded, killed by arrows, and drawn and quartered in everything from Goldeneye to The Lord Of The Rings to Game Of Thrones.
For his new series, the Yorkshire-bred actor shockingly makes it to the end of the season. In The Oath, Bean plays the imprisoned patriarch of a gang of rogue cops. It’s a brooding, dark and violent look at how corrosive corruption can be. Bean, 58, talked about the new series, his many deaths, and why he’s pleased he’s left his mark on GoT long after losing his head.
This is another tightly wound, sinister character. What attracts you to them?
I guess when your character is in darkness or is very cerebral and contained, you don’t have to learn as many lines (laughs). You just do it with facial expression. They do actually tend to be men-of-not-many words sort of characters – I quite like that. I don’t like saying too much. I don’t like too much repetition.
The series is shot in Puerto Rico and had to contend with Hurricane Maria in September. The cast and crew returned to finish filming after that monster storm. Was it hard?
I was there for the first few weeks. I’d finished my scenes by, I suppose, July, something like that. I’d been gone about three weeks when I started picking it up on the news report. It was pretty bad, you know. I know it gets storms in that part of the world but I never thought it would be as bad as that. I thought about the people there who welcomed us with open arms. They’re very friendly and hardworking people and it was just a shock to think that they were there and the power was out.
Is there a second season in the works and are you a part of it?
Well, I don’t die in it. Well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you. You know, everyone expects me to die, don’t they? I think there’s talk of it. I think they’re seeing how it goes down and see what the reaction is.
Can we talk about your many deaths? Does it affect your choices?
I don’t mind. I remember Sean Connery once said that he doesn’t like dying in films. He doesn’t take jobs on where he dies in films. He doesn’t think it’s a good vibe or good karma. So I don’t know where that leaves me. I can understand that but I’ve done it so many times. It’s not intentional but I know I’m high up in the death table. But they’ve all been quite memorable. It’s a surprise when I survive. A quite nice surprise for me and, hopefully, for the audience as you always think I’m going to die.
Actually, we’re a little shocked you managed to survive through the first season of The Oath.
There was talk about me dying in it but they liked what they saw, what I was doing, and I think they decided to extend his life a bit more.
Can we talk about your accent? It seems like many directors leave you alone.
Unless there’s a reason to change it, I usually use how I speak now. Not too broad. If I spoke really broad Yorkshire, people might not understand what I’m saying. I kind of tone it down. It suits the characters that I play, many of them anyway. Certainly it suited Ned Stark. We did the read-through and the producers and directors and writers said, ‘Just talk like that, Sean. What do you think?’ I said, ‘Yeah, all right. Good with me.’ But then everybody who came after was part of the Stark family who had to adopt a Yorkshire accent.
Speaking of Game Of Thrones, we know Stark had a swift and grisly end. But have you noticed that your storyline is still the dominant one? Does that please you?
I’m glad they remember me and I am mentioned because it leaves a legacy. It’s wonderful to be still mentioned because the character made such a big impact in the first season. He was one of a very few good men. They’re all such backstabbers, poisonous people. He kind of stood out as a man with principles and morals and a good heart. A strong, confident man. That’s probably one of the reasons he didn’t survive. He wasn’t devilish enough. – AP