THE MIGHTY BEAN

 

Winona Kent's The Compleat Sean Bean is the oldest and most complete Sean Bean fansite. Nona was nice enough to allow we me to post some of her Bean Zines material here, and I am very grateful for that, because there's a lot of interesting material in them. Obvioulsy there has been a tremendous effort made in gathering all this material.

This is what Nona says about the Bean Zines :

The old Bean Zines were what I sent out by email to fans before I had a website to put them on, and also before I had lots of room on the website. A lot of it dates from before the internet, so it was gathered together by my friends and other fans in the UK who really hunted for it and got back issues of magazines, or found things in their scrapbooks.

And me, hunting through periodical indexes and then looking at microfilm or at bound back copies of magazines and newspapers in three or four different libraries. So a lot of work went into those early magazine and newspaper articles - then they were all typed up by me or by friends for distribution and viewing.

Some of it was even before anyone outside the UK had heard of Sean, so it's really historical stuff, and it wasn't easy to find.

 

 

ON ME 'EAD SON
Sky
MARCH 1996

Sean Bean is mulling over what he'd like to do if he weren't one of the hottest
actors to come out of Britain since Michael Caine: "I'd probably be a landscape
gardener. I like gardening - rockeries and that." This man does not sound how he
looks. The star of Sharpe, Patriot Games and the smash hit Bond movie Goldeneye
has an epic face to rival both the young Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. The deep
green eyes, the noble nose, the jutting jaw - his face looks like it should be
carved on the side of Mount Rushmore. Then he goes and opens his gob. "I do like
a nice pie at the football match. Lots of gravy. Nice and juicy."

Sean Bean is the proverbial beautiful blonde who opens her mouth to reveal a
tiny squeaky voice. Except it's a broad Sheffield brogue, throaty and coarse.
But even if his accent were a scar, try as you might, you wouldn't be able to
take your eyes off it. People warn you about it in advance -like telling you how
tiny Kylie Minogue really is, or how muscular Madonna is, or how polite The
Manic Street Preachers are, but it still comes as a shock. Patriot Games and
Goldeneye, the films that brought him to the cineplex masses, saw him playing,
respectively, an Irish terrorist and an immaculately-spoken London spy. Unlike
say, Bob Hoskins or Sean Connery, who are recognisable almost the moment they
open their mouths, Bean's on-screen accent is often as far from his own as it is
humanly possible to get... "Oh, aye," he smiles. "You don't want to be playing
the same role with the same accent over and over again. It would be boring. "

The accent goes hand in hand with the other top rumour about Sean Bean:
according to the scandal-mongerers, he's (brace yourself now) completely and
utterly... normal. He's happily married to Melanie Hill, the Bread star he met
at RADA. They have two kids, Lorna (8) and Molly (4). They live in Totteridge, a
London suburb. Sean would like to get a dog, but he's not sure that they have
enough room.

It's not that there's anything wrong with all this, far from it; it's just not
what we've come to expect from an industry that cited Kevin Costner as the most
happily married, normal man in Hollywood, until he left his wife for a Hula girl
and made a film about half-fish men racing each other across the ocean on
motorbikes.


Living in LA for three months whilst filming Patriot Games doesn't seem to have
had any adverse effect on young Sean, I muse as I watch him cheerily bounce a
football on his knee for the Sky Magazine photo-shoot, oblivious to the pelting
rain. We're talking about the town where fellow thespian Elizabeth Taylor once
claimed that Michael Jackson was the most normal person she had ever met and,
sadly, you knew she was telling the truth.

And there sits Sean expressing, over a pint of bitter, a deep admiration for The
Beautiful South's Paul Heaton. Bean is one of those people who's so shy, you
sometimes wonder if they're just being rude. When he does blurt something out,
about pies or Paul Heaton, you might think he's inarticulate, but he is not that
either. He simply has a very real sense of his job, which is to act, full stop.

He rants against lottery money going to the Royal Opera House -"what about
hospitals and schools? Look at the way the health service has been ground down.
Look at the way Thatcher destroyed communities by closing down the mines,
destroying everything these people had. And their money goes to fund the Opera
House." Yet he gets uncomfortable when I ask him specifically which way he
votes.

"I think that's my business. Just because I vote a certain way, doesn't mean
anyone else should. With all due respect," which is a phrase that always sounds
incredibly disrespectful, "I don't think it's anything to do with you."

Bean has no truck with this 'I really must bond with the interviewer and reveal
my soul' malarky. Whilst remaining very polite, he'd clearly rather be somewhere
else. Preferably, at a match. For someone who has made a career out of playing
lusty, troubled brutes, he often seems curiously passionless. The only time he
gets truly excited is when he's talking about football. He is a rabid supporter
of the down-on-their-luck Sheffield United.

"It's a social thing as much as anything else -it gives you a routine. It
happens on a Saturday, you talk about it on a Sunday. It's a working-class game.
I hope," he sneers, "it never turns into a fancy, middle-class puffball game."

He's very serious about his team -and so isn't amused when I ask why Sheffield
Wednesday are called Sheffield Wednesday and what, exactly, it is that happens
on a Wednesday? "They lose," he says softly. Since United have had few moments
of victory since 1904, I theorise that his supporting them is a means of
clinging to working-class glory and that supporting a team that habitually loses
is the ultimate male statement. He's thrown.

"You talking about me?" he grins, and then, realising that he's dealing with a
football ignoramus, tries, very slowly to explain. "They are the fans I admire
most. Anyone who's born in an area should stick by their own team where they
were born, not just support the nearest big city that's doing well. I know
someone from Newcastle who supports Manchester United. It is..." he chooses his
words, "morally wrong."

His latest project, then, must have seemed like manna from heaven. When Saturday
Comes is the story of Jimmy Muir, a Sheffield factory worker who dreams of
playing for United. and. inspired by the love of Emily Lloyd, lives the dream.
It's produced by fellow Sheffield native, James Daly, whose previous credits
include Highlander 2 and Highlander 3, and it is obviously something of a labour
of love. Lloyd is shockingly bad but the film itself is small but quietly
charming and Bean is terrific.

"When James Daly got in touch with me, I thought it were a joke. It were called
A Pint Of Bitter, set in Sheffield and about a lad who gets to play football for
United. I said: 'Bollocks.' But it were true."

When Saturday Comes also found him in the strange position of having his wife
play his sister. "It were brilliant. I could tell her to iron me shirt which I
can't get away with at home."

Whether the movie will do anything in America remains to be seen. It is as
English as Alfie, Billy Liar or Saturday Night, Sunday Morning - Bean's
favourite film.

"British films were great then. People weren't having to pander to Hollywood. I
hope that's coming back. Hollywood often gets it so wrong. In Patriot Games,
Harrison Ford were knighted just before he went into court. I couldn't believe
it. The Americans do get it wrong half the time. They make good films though."

In When Saturday Comes, Jimmy Muir finds himself held back by his mates, who
don't want to see him succeed. They believe he belongs with them in the mine.
Which begs the question: what did Bean's friends say when he announced he was
moving to London to attend RADA?

"It's not really the done thing in Sheffield. I suppose they thought I were a
fairy. I don't want to make a fuss about it, that's the way I like it. I were
going to be a welder for my Dad's company in Sheffield. That's what he wanted me
to do, but I weren't cut out for it. I think all things considered, it's turned
out pretty well." Indeed. Following the success of Goldeneye, When Saturday
Comes opens next month and he is also set to star opposite Sophie Marceau in
Anna Karenina. Sharpe is back on ITV for another series and Bean has just formed
a production company with James Daly and his co-star, Pete Postlethwaite. What
do his family make of his success?

"My kids get used to seeing me on the telly and it's no big deal anymore. It's
usually me saying 'Look I'm on the telly,' and they say, 'Yeah dad, what are we
having for tea?' It's just a job at the end of the day. "

With his own production company, Bean should play the roles he deserves.
Although he played the Bond baddy to marvellous effect, his performance is so
skilful, it makes Pierce Brosnan look even more nervous and out of his depth
than he really is. Why is he playing second banana to a nerdy-faced Irishman? My
guess is Bean's beauty is too intense for Hollywood to deal with. Their ideal of
an English man is a floppy-haired, bashful, twitchy, upper-class twit, ie Hugh
Grant. Until they bend the rules, Bean won't get the roles he ought. Like Jeremy
Irons, he merits better than playing the villain in another action flick. "Maybe
they don't like their own lads doing the dirty work," he ponders.

His best work has been for the BBC - from Julie Burchill's Prince, through Lady
Chatterley to the acclaimed Clarissa, in which he played the cruel rake,
Lovelace. Although the embodiment of evil, Sean also managed to give the
character a tragic edge. Despite imprisoning Clarissa in a whorehouse, raping
her and breaking her will, Bean made you believe that Lovelace really was in
love with her. It caused the same I uncomfortable feeling as watching
Schindler's List and realising you find Ralph Fiennes attractive, even though
he's playing a Nazi.

He'd like to do more work along the lines of Clarissa. "It were a great series
to do," he says. "I like 18th century literature. There seemed to be some kind
of order and morality then."

The truth is, juicy pies or no juicy pies, there simply isn't a better actor
around. It makes you wonder why? Without wanting to sound, as Sean would put it,
"like a ponce," you get the feeling that he is driven by things beyond his
control. Alan Rickman has that same dangerous, but often sympathetic quality but
you know if you spoke to him he'd be intellectual and actorly. Sean Bean is the
Noel Gallagher of acting -whereas you imagine Damon Albarn worries and frets
over every line, you know Noel would just do it.

So Bean gets a little touchy about politics. But really, when every other actor
wants a piece of the political scene, from Vanessa Redgrave preaching about
Palestine, to Richard Gere getting cred from the crisis in Tibet, that's really
pretty cool. An actor who recognises the limitations of his profession. Wow.

In the limo back to Totteridge, he talks excitedly about the shoot he's doing
for Viz magazine. "This lad is going to go into the hairdressers and ask to look
like Sean Bean, then I come out."

He tells us that since tonight is his wife's birthday, he's taking her and the
kids to see Le Cirque Du LA. I ask him if he means the acclaimed Cirque Du
Soleil? "Eh, that's it." And, of course, he gabbles with glee because he's going
to watch his beloved United play on Saturday. One final question. Could you be
friends with someone who didn't care about football? "Yeah, course I could." He
pauses before adding, "I'd think they were a bit strange, like."

 

THE LEADER OF THE PACK
by Alison Bowyer
TV Times
14-20 NOVEMBER 1992

It was Britain's biggest robbery - ú26million of gold bullion stolen from a
warehouse near Heathrow. As ITV recreates the drama and action in Saturday's
film, Sean Bean talks about his role as gangleader Micky McAvoy


Sean Bean's star couldn't be shining more brightly than it is right now. The
Yorkshire-born actor has starring roles in three new major television
programmes. And he has caught the attention of Hollywood with his powerful
portrayal of a vengeful Irish terrorist in Harrison Ford's latest film Patriot
Games.

Bean, 33, has gone from one gripping drama to another in the past two years.
Last year he starred in two BBC screenplays, Tell Me That You Love Me and
Prince. He went on to portray aristocratic rake Lovelace in the BBC's period
drama Clarissa and then moved to Los Angeles for three months to film Patriot
Games.

He has just finished filming one of the sexiest roles in English literature -
gamekeeper Mellors in Ken Russell's ú4million adaptation of Lady Chatterley's
Lover for the BBC - and in between he fitted in his starring role in Fool's
Gold, ITV's film about the Brink's-Mat bullion raid.

'It has all happened so quickly, jumping from one thing to another,' says Bean
as he prepares to travel to Russia to star in Central TV's film Sharpe's Rifles,
which is set in the Napoleonic Wars.

Bean had little time to study for his role as Brink's-Mat mastermind Micky
McAvoy. 'I only found out I was going to be doing the film a week before
shooting so I had to do a crash course. I read a book all about the robbery and
then tried to gather as much information as I possibly could.'

He found playing a young man sentenced to 25 years in jail very depressing. 'It
made me feel what it would be like to go to prison. I can't imagine being shut
up in a cell for 25 years.

'I know the writers didn't want the public to feel sorry for McAvoy but you
can't help it. I felt sorry for him because he was stitched up by his friends.

The fact that he didn't grass on his mates makes him a bigger character than the
rest of them.'

Bean himself was stitched up - literally - while filming Patriot Games.

'One scene called for me and Harrison Ford to have a fight and I got caught by a
boat-hook just below my eyebrow. It cut my eye open and I had to have eight
stitches. It was just before I started Lady Chatterley's Lover and caused a few
problems for the make-up department.'

Bean, married to actress Melanie Hill who played Aveline in Bread, is flying to
Portugal at the end of the month after filming Shape's Rifles near the Black Sea
in the Crimea. He hopes to be home with his family for Christmas.

But with two small daughters how does he cope with long periods away from home?

'I obviously miss the children because they are growing up so fast now. Lorna is
five and has just started school and Molly is one. I don't think they believe me
when I say I'm going away - they think I am just going to Sheffield to watch a
football match. They can't understand the sense of time when I say I am off for
weeks or months. When I was filming Patriot Games Melanie and the girls flew out
to see me halfway through and we all went to Disneyland, which was very nice.

'But you get used to being away from your family after a while. That's my job.
You can't really turn down a couple of months in Russia playing a good part and
getting well-paid for it.'

And Bean, a keen supporter of his home football team Sheffield United, adds:
'Another thing I'll miss is going to see the team play. I just might get Melanie
to video their games for me and send the tapes out to Russia!'

Being so much in demand means he has no idea when he will have time for a
holiday. 'Who knows, maybe I will have a holiday after the next job. I always
say that but then something else comes along.

'But I am enjoying it. It is great to know what you are going to be doing for
the next few months and they have all been really tremendous parts.'

 

Sean Beanm screen lover who is one of the boys.

Daily Express, april 16, 1994

Sean Bean has taken up a lot of column inches in his 34 years and there is
always one recurring theme. This is a man who is a difficult subject. He
understands that one of the tools of his trade is the need to let the
journalist see "the man behind the role". Contractually, he has to do the
publicity round. By now every journalist knows the route. Yes, he is married,
yes, he has children, he loves Sheffield United, he drinks his beer, and he
loves his parents. He has a sister. And he has old fashioned courtesy. And
that, thank you guys, is about as far as you are going to get.

Give us more, they plead. Triumphantly like conjurers dishing out the bag of
tricks, one or other discovers a former marriage, and a bit of bother when he
was at drama school. The answers are bland and non-committal. So adroit is Sean
Bean, that even admission is unexploitable.

"He doesn't give anything," is the constant wail. That is not the case when he
acts. Renaldo Vasconcelos, who produced Lady Chatterley, says that Sean "is the
most emotionally honest actor I have worked with. And he has never been
anything other than direct and straightforward. He is never manipulative."

If there is an industry reflection, it is that perhaps Sean confines himself to
the kind of roles that reflect his own careful reserves. All his characters are
multifaceted, interesting men, who are not easily able to confront themselves.
Scared of revealing too much, they hide behind their masculinity, but always
betraying a vulnerability that sets them apart from the characteristic goodie
and baddie.

Sean is indeed proud of his masculinity. He likes that club. Masculine temples
are his places of worship, he loves soccer and is an excellent fencer. Sean
used to box. When he talks about it, his eyes light up as if he himself were in
the ring, eating up the adrenalin.

"It's a man's game, the pinnacle of masculinity -- and that's something to be
proud of. It's a fine thing.

"When I was about 15, I used to box at a good old boxing club called Croft
House. I carried on until I was about 17. My father had boxed in the army, he
won medals and cups. I just did it at the local youth club. At the time, I
didn't drink or smoke. I just had a lot of milkshakes. I was very fit. It was a
very good experience for me. It taught me self-control. I do think it's very
good for kids to learn how to box even if they don't follow it up
professionally at the end of the day. It gives them a place in society,
something to aim for."

He pauses for a moment, thoughtful: "Perhaps it is the catharsis of being able
to challenge aggression within a controlled environment."

Amidst all those badges of machismo, however, Sean Bean enjoys women; he knows
how to flirt. I suspect, however, that Sean believes that women should be
wives, or mothers. He doesn't cherish their companionship, thinking that he
prefers the easy world of unchallenging masculine acceptability.

So how is it that he is probably one of the best of the current crop of English
screen lovers? Perhaps it is because Sean Bean seems to instinctively
understand a woman's body. The Press have unfairly tagged him as someone who
"gets his kit off", which seems a little simplistic for a man who can handle a
range that spans Chekhov to Patriot Games. Unless of course, the talent can be
put down to instinct, a natural skill, like playing the ball down the rich
green turf of the Church of Soccer.

You can't learn the magic, it is something you have or you don't ... and Sean
certainly has it. He eats up a scene, dominating it, and the camera loves him.
He has the kind of film technique that licks the screen alive. He honed his
craft at RADA, in a golden year of talent that included Kenneth Brannagh, Janet
McTeer and James Wilby.

He is a very attractive man, with a sensitive and rather fine face which has a
somewhat stubborn jaw but is dominated by clear, expressive eyes that seem,
even on a rather formal knowledge, to be the passport to his feelings. When he
comes out from behind the carefully constructed wall to his private world, he
is still charming, extremely funny, very direct, and disconcertingly
perceptive. He is passionately loyal.

But Sean is no pushover. He is resilient and he doesn't moan unnecessarily --
being a trouper is important -- but he will certainly voice his disquiet if he
is dissatisfied. Muir Sutherland, who together with Malcolm Craddock produced
the Sharpe series to be shown by Central Television in May in which Sean plays
Richard Sharpe, says: "If Sean has a complaint, you had better listen, because
there will be a very good reason why he has something to say. I've only once
heard him blow on all the months we've worked in the Ukraine, in not the
easiest of situations, but when he did, we knew about it."

Sitting easily in my kitchen, Sean laughed when I relayed Sutherland's words.
"Yes," he confessed, "I did lose my rag. We were right at the end of the shoot.
The weather had changed and I knew the scenes we were shooting wouldn't match
in. It had gone on for days, everyone was very tired, we were shooting
complicated fight scenes. It finally got stupid. You can't shoot one part of
the action in fine weather and the rest of it in a blinding blizzard, so I said
so." 

Sean Bean's career is now at an almost frightening ledge on the sheer face of
fame. He has reached the summit of his performance level in British film and
television. He is highly in demand, he is expensive. And he delivers an
audience, but what now? Does the great big U.S. of A beckon? 

"Of course, I'd like to act in international movies. That's where I am now,
wanting to reach the widest possible audience."

But would he take his much loved family -- his wife is Melanie Hill, an actress
in her own right, and their two children, Lorna six, and Molly two -- and go
and live in Hollywood? "No, I'd go there for the work but I'd never buy a house
there. God knows what the surveyor's report would be like after all them bloody
earthquakes."

Sean clearly understands about that kind of thing. "I once built a wall that
fell down after about two days. Good job I was working for the council."

His roots are very important to him. His sister Lorraine is married with a boy
and a girl. Part of his mother Rita's family originally came from Limerick, his
father Brian's came from Sheffield where Sean was born.

"You can drive out of Sheffield and in 10 minutes you're in the country. I know
there's Hampstead Heath near here, but it's not quite the same thing, is it?
I've good friends here, but the people I've grown up with, my friends from
school, well, it's different. And the thing about the north is that people
aren't bothered about what you do. I was in this pub one day and this lad was
reading a newspaper. I could see he was looking at photographs of me. I carried
on drinking my pint and then he noticed me. He said, 'Hey, that's you isn't
it.' And he held up the paper and showed it around to everyone. I didn't mind.
It was all good-hearted. A bit of fun. We had a laugh and then they let me get
on with my drink.

"I was brought up in that kind of atmosphere, you can't put on airs and graces.
My mam used to be a secretary, but she stopped work when we were born, until we
were about eight or nine. My dad runs his own steel fabrication shop
manufacturing gear wheels and plant machinery. If anything taught me to grow
up, it was working there. I was working with a lot of good blokes and they
didn't take no s***. The fact that my dad was the boss didn't reflect on me and
that's the way I liked it."

He is very proud of his father. "He did it all himself, built up the business.
In some ways I wish I'd followed him, stayed working in the factory, and that I
didn't have this need to do something different. It would've been good to have
been with him, working with him, carrying on after him. But the difficulty was
I always felt I wanted to do something else, be something different.

"I wasn't much interested at school, although I loved art and I was quite good
at English. I mucked around though, preferred to be off with my mates, rather
than studying. I started reading properly, getting into text, when I was about
19. One thing that triggered me off was Macbeth. It's about power and ambition,
and where it all goes wrong." 

Is power and ambition important then? "I don't know about power, but I do want
to achieve. Be at the top of what I do. Arrogance doesn't bother me, it's a
quality that is quite important. It's stupidity I can't abide. And people
following other people's orders without thinking for themselves."

Sean is a contained man, there is a stillness about him. He is a watcher,
rather than a participator. "I observe people. I like to see how they react. I
can draw on that and, of course, my own experiences." 

Sean Bean has no artifice, what you see is what you get. Even so, I contest,
his mind is at odds with his own inner needs. There is a considerable intellect
trapped in a need for security.

He was a wilful child. Given to temper tantrums, he would throw himself against
walls and beat his fists in anger. On one particular afternoon, after he had
spent the day with a cousin at Clumber Park, he was tired and fractious. He
came home and sat in the front room cutting out shapes from paper. His cousin
had the scissors. Sean wanted them. He was told to wait. His fury erupted and
he ran to the glass door that lead to the kitchen. He pounded against the
glass, hitting it so hard that it fractured into pieces -- the jagged edges
rained down on him and one embedded itself in his thigh, slicing through skin
and sinew to the main artery.

"I fell back on to the floor, blood pouring from everywhere. I don't remember
the pain but I do remember the carpet, it was patterned, blue with beige
diamonds. My uncle wrapped me in towels and rushed me to the hospital whilst my
mother ran over everyone's gardens to get to my father who was in the pub. They
saved my leg, but I wouldn't walk for a year. They used to push me around in a
big pram. I still remember it. One of this old big black ones. I didn't like
it."

A deep scar runs around his thigh. "I tell people it's a shark bite."

There is very little written about Sean Bean the family man. He lives with
Melanie and their children, in an Edwardian house in North London. They try to
bring up the youngsters themselves, although when they are working they have a
nanny.

"I am the provider," he says. "I look after the family. I think the mother
should be there. We try not to work at the same time, so one of us is always
with the children. It's important. It's not easy leaving them. When I had to go
away for four-and-a-half months to the Ukraine and I looked out of the car and
saw the children, and Melanie, I realised I wouldn't see them for all that
time. I won't do it again, not for that amount of time, being away from home.

"We're lucky, in our sort of work, we can spend a lot of time together as well.
But Melanie's working now on a series and she has to go away every other week,
so I am at home."

He pauses. "Although I am going to Africa to do this movie (Jacob) with Sir
Peter Hall, but it's not for long. About three or four weeks. I'll fit it in
before I go to Ireland to finish Scarlett (the TV sequel to Gone With The Wind
in which he plays aristocratic rake Luke Fenton)."

All this might make one believe that Sean is a stranger to his children. That
is absolutely not the case. I have seen him coping with Molly in one arm and
Lorna by his side. He was completely in charge and totally relaxed. The
business of potty training didn't faze him; he made coffee for me, tea for him,
and organised Molly.

Despite the domesticity, he is not, however, a New Man. "No, it's a mother's job
to raise her children."

One might well ask what would happen if Melanie had to go to the Ukraine for
four-and-a-half months.

"It would be very difficult. The children would have to go with her, but then
Lorna would have to come out of school. I s'ppose I could go and see her...."

The emancipated woman could enquire if Sean might not consider staying at home.
But I didn't bother to pose the question. I can only imagine the kind of reply I
would have received.

Mention Sean Bean and women think about sex, but he says: "I laugh at this
image of myself as some sort of sex machine. If an alien came to this planet
and read some of my reviews, they would think I only acted in porn movies. I am
not complaining, but I find it very strange. The image from the roles on film
and television are very different to who I really am. I sometimes think that
people must think I am some sort of sex maniac or something. I am not thinking
about sex all the time. I am like everyone else. I am not saying sex isn't an
important part of a relationship -- most would flounder without it. It's a
perfectly natural thing -- that's why I don't worry when I have to act it."

Talking about sex, what about Lady Chatterley? Lady C attracted the kind of
damning reviews that would have sunk the Titanic without the held of an ice
floe. "People were attacking it before it even came out. No one gave it a
chance. It wasn't accepted as a whole piece, the four hours together. But the
audiences liked it. I actually thought the bonking guide (in one tabloid
newspaper) was a good idea. We'd have been in trouble if the sex scenes hadn't
lived up to what the audience wanted. I would much prefer it to be over sexy,
rather than not enough. I tried to treat it as a piece about sex. After all it
is about sex. It's a great love story. People can switch off if they don't like
it."

Sean is absolutely candid about the decision to play the part of Paul, a
university lecturer in A Woman's Guide to Adultery. "I did it because I wanted
to work with David Hayman, the director. I didn't think the scripts were
particularly brilliant. They improved my character slightly. I made what I
could out of the part. At the end of the day I don't regret doing it, but
perhaps there should have been a bit more thought.

"We had a great time making it. It was a great cast. And the producer Beryl
Vertue was wonderful. But in the end I think my performance could have been
better. It was a weak performance, I can accept that. I've got no argument with
the critics."

His next appearance on screen will be as Sharpe in Central's three films based
on Bernard Cornwell's novels. Sean loves the character. He understands him.
"Richard fires warning shots across the barrel of privilege. And he's got a
fiery ambition, nothing's going to stop him."

Sean admits that it was quite difficult to get back into character after a
year's absence (the first films were made in 1992). "When you've finished a
role, you bury the character. It's dead. I got very uptight about it for the
first few weeks of the shoot. But then I found him again and it was OK.

"It's funny, but Sharpe is about the class system too. And those battles should
have been much more violent and shocking than we can show at eight o'clock. It
is quite frustrating, not being able to do things as realistically as one would
have liked. Myself and Tom Clegg, the director, both felt that. I'd love to see
them as films. Sharpe's Company has the weight to become a feature film in its
own right. There are such restrictions to what you can do on television, mid-
evening. You can't even approach the sex properly.

"You have to be governed by the kind of subject you're working with. Underworld
situations are not very pleasant. If you don't show how the people play the
game, you are not being true to real life.

"It all depends on what extremes you go to -- there are certain things I would
not do. Mass murderers, those Moors Murderers -- it was disgraceful. I know
what I'd do to them. It's immoral to justify what they do. God forbid anyone
should ever see it. Let them lie -- don't raise them up again.

"Schindler's List is different. Everyone should be reminded of what happened.
All society is at risk from that kind of brutality. 

"So I s'ppose if you're asking me where I draw the line I'd say violence has to
be justified. Gangsters and villains operate by different rules to us. The
justice meted out to them is part of the way in which they live. They
understand how it operates."

Sean takes his responsibility as an actor very seriously. He has no patience
with the "safe" school of acting -- slipping into the tried and trusted modes.
"You have to create your characters afresh. And it's important to know the
producer's genuine ambition. If they are really interested in the truth of the
piece. You have to dig deep to bring out the truth and I expect others to do
the same."

He is equally vehement about scripts. "A script has to have good characters. It
can't be two dimensional."

Sean has worked in a lot of adaptations: Lady Chatterley, Clarissa, A Woman's
Guide to Adultery, Lorna Doone. "In adaptation, I get really angry when the
adaptors' egos get in the way of the source material. If a book is good enough
to put on the screen, then stay true to it. Don't tamper with it. It never
works."

Eventually, he admits, he would like to direct, "but not yet." He cares about
how a film is made, the way it is shot and, of course, the way it is edited.

"I was lucky in Patriot Games. All my scenes were left intact. Harrison Ford
had a lot of say about the way it was edited and I am grateful that he thought
they were important."

Sean relishes film, recognising it as his medium. Although he started as a
stage actor: "My first job was at Newbury, I earnt 70 pounds a week. I remember it
was a blue wage packet -- it was wonderful, at last I was getting paid."

But he does not favour the theatre. "You have to be on stage for two hours,
every night, recreating the same character, which after a while becomes
monotonous. I prefer the spontaneity of film acting where every day there is a
new challenge."

Sean believes in God, but he doesn't go to church. He likes them though.
"Particularly the old ones. There was one up the road from where I lived. It
has those massive, old, stained glass windows. It dates, I think, from the 16th
Century. It has roots. I like that feeling, that something has been there for a
long time."

He has a very precise view of morality. "You have to be able to confront
yourself. You can't run away from anything. You have to stand up and face
things you fear. Face up to your actions. There are certain things I've done --
and I regret them," he shifts uncomfortably, "but you put them out of your
mind. Don't think about them."

Before he left for Africa this week, I asked Sean if he had a favourite
painting. He wrote it down for me. Saturday Afternoon At The Lane by Joe
Scarborough. I don't know it myself, but I assume that it is something to do
with Bramall Lane and a football match. His taste in music is catholic, "all
kinds - Tamla Motown, Madness, Mozart, Handel, brass bands." His favourite
movie is The Duellists directed by Ridley Scott.

Stardom is a dangerous game. We create our idols to sell our product. We cosset
them and care for them and we pick over their talent like vultures. If they
slip just once, we begin the horrible business of tearing them down. We demand
their soul.

In Norman Mailer's book on Marilyn Monroe he quotes from an essay: "Film is a
phenomenon whose resemblance to death has been ignored for too long."

The contention is that the actor consigns to celluloid his innermost passion
and when it is gone from him he is left with less than he started. Sean Bean is
careful of it: "I think you've always got to keep a little bit of yourself to
yourself -- that reminds you that you still have something left that is yours,
and yours alone."

It is probably that ethic which protects Sean Bean. And his belief in himself.
"I am fairly confident about myself. I don't mind if some people don't like me.
I have a lot of people who do like me."

 

 

BLADES RUNNER
Yorkshire Post
FEBRUARY 24, 1996

Sheffield United fans get a rare treat next week with the world premiere of a
film about their team, starring Blades fanatic Sean bean. Tony Earnshaw and Eric
Roberts report.

It's not much fun, being a Sheffield United fan. Pete Whitney, who has followed
the Blades for over 50 years, is hard pressed to remember the last time they won
something. "It would be the Fourth Division championship, I think."

Lack of success on the field has been accompanied by off-field ructions. It's
hard to take when your chairman is accused first of insider dealing, then of
avoiding his legal responsibilities in India, and for years makes no secret of
the fact that he's wanting to sell the club, letting the best player go to Leeds
in the meantime.

Then there's the new stand, ending the years when Bramall Lane was a three-sided
ground, sharing the pitch with Yorkshire's cricketers. A few years among the
giants of the premier league would pay for that, the fans were told. But though
the team clawed its way out of the relegation zone, it still went down to the
dying seconds of the season.

Blades fans are a resilient lot - 10,000 of them turn out through thin and thin,
in hail, rain and snow, in the hope of an occasional treat like this season's FA
cup victory over Arsenal.

"It has been a long time since I heard people coming out of the ground saying
what a marvellous match they had seen, as they did that day," says Pete Whitney,
chairman of the Supporters' Club executive.

The fans deserve a treat, and they are about to get one with the world premiere
in Sheffield on Tuesday of the moving When Saturday Comes, a piece of escapism
which glorifies Sheffield United and should help boost the image of a city which
has suffered almost as badly as the soccer team.

It stars Sean Bean, whose commitment to his favourite team is so fanatical that
the authenticity of his nude scenes in TV's Lady Chatterley's Lover was ruined
by the "100 per cent Blade" tattoo clearly visible on his arm.

Bean, a superstar and sex symbol in the spare time he gets from supporting
United, plays a working class lad who beats the odds to make it to the soccer
big time and gain a place in his beloved team.

For Bean, 36, making the film was a dream come true. Not only did he get to wear
the United strip and live out his fantasy of playing on the hallowed Bramall
Lane turf, he also trained with the players.

"One of the highlights of doing this film has been pulling the Blades' strip on
and running out onto the field at Sheffield United. It was a fantastic feeling,
something I thought I'd never be able to do.

"When I was young, I had dreams about playing for Sheffield. This is the closest
I'll ever get to realising that ambition."

The story, originally called A Pint O' Bitter, was written by the film's co-
producer, James Daly, another Sheffielder, with Bean in mind to play the central
character.

Through sponsorship deals and the help of former United manager, Dave Bassett,
who allowed them to use the ground for free, they were able to make the movie on
a low budget - less than ú2m.

For Sean Bean, the role of Jimmy Muir was almost too close to home. In the
movie, the 15-year-old Muir is given a career choice: the pits or the beer-pump
factory.

A decade on, he's assembling beer pumps, but dreams of being a professional
soccer player with Sheffield United. It's not giving away the plot to say that
he eventually makes it.

The young Sean Bean could have gone the same way. As a teenager he worked as an
apprentice welder with his father before taking the plunge and studying drama at
Rotherham College of Art.

His work there led to his winning and passing an audition for RADA, where he won
a fistful of awards, including the Silver Medal.

For him, like the character of Jimmy Muir, things could have turned out very
differently.

As it is, Bean is riding the crest of a wave.

The past 12 months have been one of the most intense periods of his career. He
started When Saturday Comes only days after returning from the Ukraine where he
had been shooting three Sharpe films for Carlton Television, and after
completing the Sheffield film, he went straight into the Bond adventure
GoldenEye, playing the lead villain.

But it's When Saturday Comes which obviously means the most to him.

He sees it not just as his dream part, but also as an important event for
Sheffield. "Certain parts of other films have been made in Sheffield, but I
don't think a feature film on this scale has been made there before.

"It was quite emotional to go back to the place where you were born and brought
up. I left there to come down to London 15 years ago. I never realised that one
day I might go back to play the part of a Sheffield lad in a film about
Sheffield United. It was a very moving experience."

His enthusiasm for the project prompted him to take a much lower fee than he
would normally accept, and has led him to form a film production company Steel
City Productions, with Daly and Pete Postlethwaite, another of the film's stars,
to make other movies in the area.

"I did the film because is was something I felt very strongly about. It was a
labour of love in a way. I've always wanted to go back and do something in
Sheffield, a feature film if possible, and that's what we've done.

"Hopefully we'll be able to maintain that and in the future explore it and do
other projects in Sheffield and the Yorkshire area. There's a lot of talent up
here and a lot of support for films.

"You've got your costume dramas, but there's another aspect to life which is
just as valuable and that's up north. With Steel City Productions, we are trying
to consolidate on what we have achieved already, to try and bring a bit of the
film industry up to Yorkshire."

Sean will be in Sheffield on Tuesday for the premiere at Meadowhall, when his
parents Rita and Brian will be among the guests.

"I've lived in London for 15 years, but I've never really lost my affinity for
Sheffield or Yorkshire in general. I've always made a point of coming back up to
watch the matches and see family and friends. It's a release valve.

"I can sit down and relax with my friends. They treat me as a mate rather than
'Sean Bean - star'. I can talk about old times, when we were at school.... It
keeps my feet on the ground.

"You can forget that there is another life and it's a tougher life than the one
I live now. I don't ever want to lose sight of that."

Back in that tougher existence, Pete Whitney of the Supporters Club is delighted
at the favourable publicity Bean and the movie are bringing the club he has
followed since he was a lad.

"We were never allowed to mention the words Sheffield Wednesday in the house,"
he says. "It's an inbred thing."

In fact, the excitement almost rivals that of the days when Tony Currie -
featured in the movie - used to play. "It was a great period," he recalls. "Mind
you, we never won anything then, either. But hopefully, we will be on our way
soon."

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