|Bean Bags Another Bad Guy
For the very versatile British actor Sean Bean, the key to playing villains in films like The Island is not to consciously buy into their madness.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
By Ian Spelling
At recent NYC premiere
Even though The Island underperformed this past weekend at the box office, and director Michael Bay went on record today with hometown newspaper the Los Angeles Times to deem his worst ever opening frame “a debacle”, you can’t blame Sean Bean. As Dr. Merrick, he is the puppet master, the guy pulling the strings, and has a thespian’s field day underplaying the character to perfection. His Dr. Merrick is a doctor so despicable, yet so reasonable; such a jerk, yet so likable; so sure of his science, but so dead wrong. This isn’t exactly new ground for Bean. The veteran British actor has played the baddie before, in everything from the James Bond saga GoldenEye to Patriot Games. And some people would even describe Boromir, his bedeviled character in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, as a villain. Still, when the offer for The Island came along, Bean couldn’t pass it up. “I thought it was a different look, a different image, different character,” he explains during a recent interview with FilmStew in New York. “Very different from Boromir. I just found it very interesting when I first read it.” “It was a quite complex read at first because there are so many descriptions about magnates and clones and stuff like that,” he adds. “But it comes up off the page very well in the film, I think. I just thought he was a very influential character.”
“He’s right in the middle of this whole [clone] complex,” Bean observes. “It’s his complex, his world, his manufacturing plant for these products and he believes what he’s doing is for the good of humanity. He’s a scientist. He pushes the boundaries and he can do that because he’s allowed to go as far as he can. He’s also got a God-like factor in him, playing God. He’s actually creating life.” Doesn’t greed factor into it, too? “I don’t think it’s so much [that] with him,” Bean replies. “It’s a bonus for him. He lives well. He has what he wants around him, but that’s not the main issue. He thinks he’s a pioneer and a brilliant scientist and the respect and prestige he gets from that, I think, drives him on. And he lives on the complex. He lives in that building. He’s not off on an island or a yacht somewhere. He actually lives with these people. It’s very much a part of his life.”
Given that Bean’s list of villains is ever-growing, he certainly can comment on an age old debate in the acting game. Some actors feel that the key to playing a convincing villain is to not think you’re the villain, while others believe in acting villainous. Bean votes for the former argument.
Dreamworks SKG Photo
Send in the clones...
“I think you’ve got to do it that way, otherwise, you’re lying to yourself,” he says. “But it is that thin line. [Merrick has] obviously gone off the rail somewhere. He’s blinded by this science. He’s misled or gone off in the wrong direction, but he can’t see that himself. He can only see the good he’s bringing to society. He’s talking about things like curing leukemia in children in two years and opening up a children’s ward, saving people’s lives. If you stack all that up against the other stuff…” So he believes the end justifies the means? “Yeah, exactly, which most scientists do, I suppose,” replies Bean, who’s due next in the horror flick The Dark and the Jodie Foster thriller Flightplan. “They think, ‘Well, if that’s what it takes to get what we want, we’ll do it.’”
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