|Sean's Bean to the Brandywell
02 June 2008
By Laurence McClenaghan
Having helped save middle Earth as Boromir, defended England on the seven seas as the lead in 'Sharpe', tried to kill James Bond as 006 agent Alec Trevelyan, taken Harrison Forde to task in 'Patriot Games' and assaulted Troy as Odysseus, the only place left to visit for English actor, Sean Bean was obviously Derry's Brandywell Stadium.
The football-loving actor who sat in the stands for the Candystripes' game against Cork on Sunday evening was in town to promote the links between Derry City and his beloved Sheffield United.
Sean took time out of his busy schedule to speak to the 'Derry Journal' prior to the match.
"Well, I love football, but to be honest, I don't really watch any other teams unless they are playing against us, so I don't know that much about Irish football," he said.
"But I realised that this is a great story and it is good that football can bring people together. Sheffield's last FA Cup win was in 1925 and they were captained by a Donegal man, Billy Gillespie, who went on to manage Derry, so it is a very interesting story and I thought it was exciting to acknowledge and explore that especially as they now both play in red and white. It is very kind of Derry to invite us here to mark the links between the clubs."
While football is a recurring theme for Sean it is his acting which has made him a household name. Having shot no less than 80 movies since debuting in 1984's 'Winter Flight' I ask at which point did he realise acting would be his 9 to 5?
"I suppose when I got accepted to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) I knew this is what I was going to do. I had wanted to be a musician or draw and paint as an artist but I stumbled across acting. I knew it was something I could channel my energy into. It always felt comfortable. After getting the letter of aceptance I was very lucky in that I had no doubts, getting that letter was an incredibly thrilling experience. I am very proud to have studied there and continue to be associated with RADA."
Sean returns to the theatre periodically, most recently as the lead in 'Hamlet'. "That is something I'd like to do more of this year or next. The thing about theatre is that it takes you out of the loop for six to nine months, so you miss other work, but we are always reading scripts and looking for the next project. It is all about the script really.
"As an actor you want to work with directors who are intelligent and
dynamic but it is all about great characters."
Intelligent and dynamic sums up the cast list from Sean's own career.as he's worked with, among others, Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, Jodie Foster, Ken Russell, Peter Jackson, Nicolas Cage, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen, Eiljah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Brad Pitt, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris, Robert De Niro and Jean Reno.
"When you say it like that, it is an impressive list," reflects the affable Hollywood A-Lister, with an unassuming proud smile.
"It is a great profession when you get the breaks," he says almost shyly, "but it is about the stories we tell more than the cast who tells them.
"I suppose that of all of them the chance to work with Peter O'Toole is the one I'm most grateful for. He has always been a hero of mine, such a powerful actor full of exuberance. He was just fascinating to watch, he uses every part of his talented body to dredge every ounce of truth to a performance with seemingly minimal effort. It was great that he lived up to the expectations I had of him, and that we got on together.
"I really enjoyed working with O'Toole, John Hurt and Richard Harris."
Sean worked with Harris on the Irish classic, 'The Field' and the two men were commemorated on an Irish 32p stamp.
"That was very flattering and totally unexpected, not too many actors can say they are on a stamp!"
Having starred in James Bond's 'Golden Eye', and in 'Lord of the Rings' the part which continually challenges Mr. Bean is the role of Richard Sharpe.
Paul McGann had originally been cast in the role before an injury ruled him out of the project.
"I had three days to prepare, then I was flown out to somewhere in the South of Russia and we started. I haven't really looked back since. I'm happy to continue to do it when the material is so good. Once I got into the role, that was it. It really is one I've grown into after I found my feet.
"I never thought it would run as long as it has though."
With the new latest instalment, 'Sharpe's Peril', due on our screens this autumn what can fans expect?
"This one is more melancholic than the others. Sharpe has retired and is travelling across India when they come across a group of people who need help. The producers didn't want to do the same thing again so he is more of a reluctant hero in this one. Add to that the fact Sharpe is thinking more and more about his daughter and you see the complexities he faces."
Finally I ask the Blade-loving English man, who'll he be cheering on this summer since his country have failed to qualify for Euro 2008?
"Good question," he remarks and much debate between Gary and Sean is concluded by agreeing to cheer on Portugal.
"There are a lot of Portugese where we live so, that is where the most crack will be."
Sean returns to our screens as Sharpe and as Robinson Crusoe's father in 'Crusoe' this autumn.
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