Sean Bean: My Sheffield mates think I'm a big ponce
The Hollywood actor and Sharpe star, 49, on the perils of being a northern actor, still having it when it comes to those meaty acting roles, and being more than a little green-fingered
How has it been filming the latest Sharpe in India?
Sean Bean: Great, actually, a really good experience. Its extremely hot in India temperatures were often above 100°F/37°C but Sharpes Peril is a terrific story where we see more of Sharpes sensitive side than we have before. He thinks a lot about his late wife and daughter, whom he hasnt seen for years.
What do you think about when you are away from England?
SB: Well, obviously my family my wife Georgina and my kids, Lorna, 21, Molly, 17, and Evie, nine. I also wonder how the vegetables in my garden are growing.
Weve now got an image of you pottering around your vegetable patch at Bean Towers
SB: Absolutely, I love it. Ive taken a lot of pleasure from producing my own tomatoes, potatoes, runner beans, onions and garlic over the last couple of years. They always taste better when youve grown them yourself. I just wish the garden was bigger a country garden rather than a London one.
Being a northern lad, how do you find living in London?
SB: There are mates of mine in Sheffield who think Im a big ponce, but thats because of the acting I do, not because I live in London. And I love the city, actually. Whats that saying about being tired of life if youre tired of London? I think thats about right. Its a vibrant city.
So youd never move to Los Angeles, despite having a movie career in the States?
SB: No, absolutely not. When I go to America I stay in hotels. Having a home over there would just be something else to worry about. Besides, I couldnt nip down to Soho and do a voiceover, if I was living in LA, could I? Thats easy to do from where I live in north London.
Congratulations on your nuptials earlier this year. Although according to some press reports, there have been bust-ups between the two of you (Sean was arrested in July for the alleged assault of wife, Georgina, but released without charge). Would you care to comment?
SB: All I can say is things get blown out of proportion, especially when you are someone in the public eye. We are very happy together.
So maybe a Beanie Baby, or two, before too long?
SB: You never know, its certainly a possibility. Although dont think Im not grateful and thankful for what Ive got already: three wonderful daughters.
How did Georgina find India while you were filming Sharpe?
SB: Hot! She came out for the last week of shooting and she did the tourist bit, visiting temples and a tiger reserve. And she did see me play in the cast and crew pool tournament at our hotel in Khajuraho. Unfortunately, I lost. And she didnt see any tigers, they kept themselves to themselves.
Are you sporty?
SB: I like to keep myself in shape. I run and do weights when I go to the gym. When we came to do Sharpe again a couple of years ago after a gap of several years, it was a bit of a shock to the system and I had to step up my visits to the gym to take account of that. Its not a place I would naturally choose to spend time. Going there is a means to an end.
Will there come a time when you reckon youll be too old to play an action hero like Sharpe?
SB: Maybe, but that time isnt yet. Ive really been into my horse riding in this new adventure, and loving every second of it. Its a bit like riding a bike I hadnt been on horseback for two years before I came to India, but I just got back in the saddle and trotted off like Id never been away.
How did you cope with the intense heat in India?
SB: By drinking lots of liquids and staying in the shade. Also Sharpe wears this heavy jacket and I was taking that off whenever I completed a scene to give my body a bit of air. You could literally feel the sun burning your scalp through your hair if you didnt get into the shade sharpish. Weve gone full circle really from the sub-zero temperatures of the Crimea when we filmed the first Sharpe, to the searing heat of India.
What other exciting things have been happening in your life?
SB: Going to a concert at my youngest daughter, Evies, school and hearing her sing really well, that was pretty special. Spending any sort of time with my daughters, thats definitely special. And the moment Sheffield United got back into the Premiership a few seasons back. Unforgettable.
Do you have any phobias?
SB: I inherited a fear of flying from my parents and used to hate it. But funnily enough, Im OK about it now. I spent so long on planes getting to and from New Zealand when I was filming Lord Of The Rings that I just got used to it. I still wouldnt be very good in helicopters and Im not great with turbulence, but generally Im OK in the air.
Is it true you contemplated sailing to New Zealand, rather than flying, such was your fear of flying?
SB: It crossed my mind, but the fact Id have got there about six months after theyd all started filming made it a bit of a non-starter. Getting a late mark on such a big production would have been so embarrassing.
What would you do if you didnt act?
SB: Id probably make stuff. I enjoy painting, and Ive got a mate, Adrian, who is a blacksmith, and I love going to his place and having a go in his forge. You turn up and see smoke billowing out of his garage and theres this fantastic smell of red-hot metal It takes me back to my childhood in Sheffield.
Who are your heroes?
SB: My mum and dad for looking after me so well; some of the greats of Sheffield United; and the real life equivalents of people like Richard Sharpe, who put their lives on the line and show such fantastic bravery in the course of fighting for their country. That takes guts.
Are you superstitious?
SB: Not particularly, although Daragh OMalley, who plays Harper in Sharpe, and I have got into the habit of exchanging a few words before we shoot a tricky scene, like where explosives are being used. Ill say something like, Good luck, Daragh. And hell say, Likewise and God bless. It makes us both feel a bit more comfortable, I think. Its a kind of ritual weve got into.
What would your epitaph be?
SB: He was a good father, a decent bloke and a good actor. And he was so pleased to have lived long enough to see Sheffield United win their fourth consecutive Premiership title on goal difference from Leeds United.
SEANS REALITY CHECK
Do you use public transport?
Do planes count? If they do, then yes, definitely. And I sometimes use the train to get up to Sheffield to see United play.
Where is Corrie set?
My aunts used to love that show, it was always on when I went round to their houses, so I definitely know its Weatherfield? (Correct) Thank goodness I got that right.
How much is a pint of beer?
It varies so much, doesnt it? Average price around £3? (About right)