|Interview by Thomas Chau, contributing editor
A student of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sean Bean has quite a reputation in London for his many works in theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company. But in the United States, he's probably best known for his rough and gruff characters, including his roles in GoldenEye, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Troy, National Treasure and this summer's The Island. In Flightplan, Sean plays Captain Rich, the pilot of a massive state-of-the-art airplane en route from Germany to the United States.
UGO: Flightplan has a really cool premise. What drew you to the script?
SEAN: I thought it was a really good thriller. I read it and you just don't know what's going to happen next. It's action-packed and interesting. Who is who until the end? Who is a good guy? Who is a bad guy? There are a lot of twists and turns and it was a good movie to work on with Jodie Foster. And Peter Sarsgaard, I think he's really good. It was just a very classic script.
UGO: You seem to always get the "shady" roles where you're the gruff guy and we never know what his intentions are right away. As the captain of this huge plane, does he support Jodie Foster's character or does he not believe her?
SEAN: He's not troubled by it. He thinks it's strange to talk about someone who has lost a child on a plane. I think he's committed to putting the situation out. Obviously, when she becomes more and more desperate, he gets more and more disturbed about the whole situation. It's his responsibilities to maintain calm in this intense situation. It's a matter of whether he believes her. There are points when he does and points where he doesn't. She's either crazy or telling the truth.
UGO: It must be interesting working on a movie like this because I'm imagining most of the movie takes place on this plane and even though it's a huge plane, it's probably one set. Was that claustrophobic at all?
SEAN: It was, yeah. When you have a film crew in there, you can hardly move when you think about the camera, the sound guy, and this and that. That claustrophobia helped in a way. It made seem very tight but it makes you feel like you want to get out but you can't. I've been on planes like that myself and they're quite small. You get the feeling in this film that you can't get off and it gets smaller and smaller as the story goes on.
UGO: It seems like the plane is almost a character in itself...
SEAN: This plane that we're talking about has 700 seats. It's got two levels and seven galleys. It's massive and so sophisticated. It's almost like a small mall or a city. It's got every conceivable comfort option, especially first class, you know what I mean? There's just tons of people there and it takes on its own identity.
UGO: It's somewhat based on the new Airbus coming soon, right?
SEAN: Yeah. I think they just tested them and they're coming out next year. They are quite big. It's not inconceivable that one could get lost in such a plane.
UGO: How was working with Jodie Foster? Was she someone you always wanted to work with?
SEAN: She was focused and intense with her approach. I've always been a big fan of hers. I think Jodie's totally believable so that was good. She tends to reassure your own game. She's a benchmark in acting and quite high. She's quite inspiring.
UGO: Whenever you have a thriller that takes place on a plane now, you can't help but draw connections to current events. Does the movie's suspense reflect a post-9/11 paranoia about airplanes and flying?
SEAN: I think they started developing this before 9/11. Fortunately, some of the elements of the story have brought in some of the reality of traveling now with the heightened security. But it's basically a story about a mother who's lost a child and has to conquer her fears, build her strength, and attempt to save her daughter. Rather than [being] a film about a plane as a weapon of destruction, it's about the psychology between a mother and a daughter and the rest of the people on a plane.
UGO: You've traveled to so many places in the world as an actor. Have you had any scary experiences yourself or are you a calm flyer?
SEAN: I am now. I used to be a bit terrified of flying. In The Lord of the Rings, we had to go up in helicopters and I had to walk the whole way, really [laughs]. I was two hours behind everybody else on top of this mountain because I just didn't want to get in any helicopters. I was terrified of them. But with planes, I'm used to them now. But I still get a bit dodgy with turbulence.
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