THE MIGHTY BEAN

The Independent interview - 02/12/11

My Secret Life: Sean Bean, actor, 51

Interview by Holly Williams

 My parents were... My mum used to work in an office for a business that made steel strings in Sheffield; my dad was a welder and fabricator. It was a bit of a surprise when I told them I wanted to be an actor.

The house/flat I grew up in... was a two-bedroomed old council house, which my parents bought and did up. I still go back there now, they still live there.

When I was a child I wanted to... be an astronaut – I definitely didn't want to be an actor.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'm a bit stubborn and selfish.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... gardening, planting trees and making wildlife ponds – I have a bit of a wild garden.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... Dancing would be top of that list. I stand well back.

At night I dream of... all sorts of things. I sometimes dream I'm getting up and getting ready, then I wake up and I'm still in bed. I think, oh shit – I've got to do it all again.

I wish I had never worn... Speedo trunks.

What I see when I look in the mirror... What sort of question is that? I just see the front of my face. You see an image you're familiar with; but on screen you see all sorts of unfamiliar sides.

I drive... a Ford Ranger pick-up truck.

My house is... quite unusual. It's on the corner of a mews in Belsize Park, and it's like a mini-villa, it has an Italian feel to it. There are lots of trees and lots of light coming in.

My favourite work of art... I just went to Malta and I saw The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio, which is amazing. I like a lot of Surrealist art, too – Dali and Miro, De Chirico.

My favourite building... Westminster Cathedral.

A book that changed me... The World of Little Foxy by Norman Smithson. I used to read that over and over again as a kid. It was just about a kid growing up in Yorkshire, it's quite innocent.

The last album I bought/downloaded... The latest Kaiser Chiefs album.

Movie heaven... I like a lot of comedies. I like to get away from it all and just have a laugh – I'm not surrounded by comedy in my life. I like really silly things like Dumb and Dumber. Also gangster films like Goodfellas and The Godfather films.

My greatest regret... I once built an aviary for some finches, and I put the caging on, but the gauge was too big so they flew out, and I lost them forever. I didn't get any more – I think I put a ferret in there afterwards.

My real-life villains... Traffic wardens.

The person who really makes me laugh... I have a good friend call Farquhar – well, he's really called Paul – and he makes me laugh very much.

The last time I cried... I think I was watching a film, it's usually watching a film with kids that makes me cry.

My five-year plan... is just to carry on as I am, I don't really have any agendas. I hope I keep working on projects that excite me and interest me. I'd rather be surprised by what comes next than have a plan.

What's the point? Life is there to be enjoyed. It's great to be alive!

My life in six words... Exciting, boring, eventful, unpredictable – always surprising.

A life in brief

Sean Bean was born in Sheffield in 1959. He worked for his father's welding firm before receiving a scholarship to Rada, aged 22, and rose to fame playing the titular character in the popular Sharpe series. Since then, he has appeared in films such as Goldeneye, National Treasure and The Lord of the Rings, and in April, will star in the new HBO series, Game of Thrones. Bean is working with Quaker Oats, rewarding people who make a difference to communities; see quaker.co.uk for more details. He lives in London and has three children.

 

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