Bean at the Empire Film Awards, 2009
|Born||Shaun Mark Bean
17 April 1959
Handsworth, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Debra James (1981–1988)
Melanie Hill (1990–1997)
Abigail Cruttenden (1997–2000)
Georgina Sutcliffe (2008–2010)
Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean (born 17 April 1959) is an English film, television, theatre and voice actor.
He is best known for his portrayal of Boromir in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, as Eddard Stark in the HBO television series Game of Thrones, and as Richard Sharpe in the ITV series Sharpe. Other notable performances include Alec Trevelyan in the James Bond film GoldenEye, Odysseus in Troy, Dr. Merrick in The Island, Ian Howe in National Treasure, Zeus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Ulric in Black Death. He played Robert Aske in Henry VIII, and has also provided voice work for video games, which include Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
Bean was born in the Handsworth district of Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of Rita (née Tuckwood) and Brian Bean. His father owned a fabrication shop which employed 50 people, including Bean's mother, who worked as a secretary. Despite becoming relatively wealthy (his father owned a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow), the family never moved away from the council estate as they preferred to remain close to friends and family.
As a child, Bean smashed a glass door during an argument over a pair of scissors. It left a piece of glass embedded in his leg that briefly impeded his walking and left a large scar. This prevented him from pursuing his dream of playing football professionally. In 1975, he left Brook Comprehensive School with O Levels in Art and English. After a job at a supermarket and another for the local council, he started working for his father's firm with a day release at Rotherham College of Arts and Technology to take a welding course. While there, he stumbled into an art class and decided to pursue his interest in art.
After attending courses at two other colleges, one for half a day and the other for less than a week, he returned to Rotherham College, where he came across a drama course for which he subsequently enrolled. After some college plays and one at Rotherham Civic Theatre, he applied for and received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, starting a seven-term course in January 1981.
Bean graduated from RADA in 1983, making his professional acting debut later that year as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury. His early work involved a mixture of stage and screen work. As an actor, he adopted the Irish spelling of his first name. His first national exposure came in an advert for non-alcoholic lager. Between 1986 and 1988, he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in productions of Romeo and Juliet, The Fair Maid of the West, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He appeared in his first film, Derek Jarman's Caravaggio (1986), playing Ranuccio Tomassoni, followed in the same director's War Requiem (1988). In 1989, he starred as the evil Dominic O'Brien in The Fifteen Streets, where he gained a dedicated following. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bean became an established actor on British television. He had notable performances in the BBC productions Clarissa and Lady Chatterley, and his role in the latter became noted for his sex scenes with Joely Richardson. In 1990, Bean starred in Jim Sheridan's adaption of the John B. Keane play The Field. Also in 1990, his role as the journalist Anton in Windprints examined the difficult problems of apartheid in South Africa.
In 1996, Bean appeared in what became a famous Sky Sports commercial for the Premier League. Later that year, he combined his love of football with his career to finally achieve his childhood dream of playing for Sheffield United, as Jimmy Muir in the film When Saturday Comes. Although the film was not critically acclaimed, Bean received credit for a good performance. His critical successes in Caravaggio and Lady Chatterley contributed to his emerging image as a sex symbol, but he became most closely associated with the character of Richard Sharpe, the maverick Napoleonic Wars rifleman in the ITV television series Sharpe. The series was based on Bernard Cornwell's novels about the Peninsular War, and the fictional experiences of a band of soldiers in the famed 95th Rifles. Starting with Sharpe's Rifles, the series followed the fortunes and misfortunes of Richard Sharpe as he rose from the ranks as a Sergeant, promoted to Lieutenant in Portugal, to Lieutenant Colonel by the time of the Battle of Waterloo.
Bean was not the first actor to be chosen to play Sharpe. As Paul McGann was injured while playing football two days into filming, the producers initially tried to work around his injury, but it proved impossible and Bean replaced him. The series ran continuously from 1993 to 1997, with three episodes produced each year. It was filmed under challenging conditions, first in Ukraine and later in Portugal. After several years of rumours, more episodes were produced: Sharpe's Challenge, which aired in April 2006, and Sharpe's Peril, which aired in autumn 2008 and was later released on DVD. Both of these were released as two cinema-length 90 minute episodes per series. With a role as enigmatic Lord Richard Fenton in the TV miniseries Scarlett, Bean made the transition to Hollywood feature films. His first notable Hollywood appearance was that of an Irish republican terrorist in the 1992 film adaptation of Patriot Games. While filming his death scene, Harrison Ford hit him with a boat hook, giving him a permanent scar. Bean's rough-cut looks made him a patent choice for a villain, and his role in Patriot Games was the first of several villains that he would portray, all of whom die in gruesome ways.
In the 1995 film GoldenEye, Bean portrayed James Bond's nemesis Alec Trevelyan (MI6's 006). He played the weak-stomached Spence in Ronin (1998), a wife-beating ex-con in Essex Boys (2000), and a malevolent kidnapper/jewel thief in Don't Say a Word (2001). He was also widely recognised as villainous treasure hunter Ian Howe in National Treasure, and played a villainous scientist in The Island (2005). In the independent film Far North, he plays a Russian mercenary who gets lost in the tundra and is rescued by an Inuit woman and her daughter, whom he later pits against one another.
Bean's most prominent role was as Boromir in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His major screen time occurs in the first installment, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. He appears briefly in flashbacks in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as well as in a scene from the extended edition of The Two Towers. Before casting finished, rumours circulated that Jackson had considered Bean for the role of Aragorn, but neither Bean nor Jackson confirmed this in subsequent interviews. Bean's fear of flying with helicopters caused him difficulties in mountainous New Zealand, where the trilogy was filmed. After a particularly rough ride, he vowed not to fly to a location again; in one instance, he chose to take a ski lift into the mountains while wearing his full costume (complete with shield, armour, and sword) and then hike the final few miles.
Other roles gave more scope for his acting abilities. In 1999's Extremely Dangerous, his character walked a fine line between villain and hero, reminiscent of the 1960s American TV series, The Fugitive. He became a repentant, poetry-reading Grammaton cleric who succumbs to his emotions in 2002's Equilibrium; a quirky alien cowboy in 2003's The Big Empty, and a sympathetic and cunning Odysseus in the 2004 film Troy.
He cameoed with other Hollywood stars in Moby's music video "We Are All Made of Stars" in February 2002. In the same year, he returned to the stage in London performing in Macbeth alongside Samantha Bond. Due to popular demand, the production ran until March 2003.
Bean has done voice-over work, mostly in the British advertising industry. He has featured in television adverts for O2, Morrisons and Barnardos as well as for Acuvue and the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States. He also does the voice over for the National Blood Service's television and radio campaign. For the role playing video game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, he voiced Martin Septim. In 1998, Bean narrated The Official Film of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Bean's distinctive voice has also been used in the intro and outro segments of the BBC Formula 1 racing coverage for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Bean has completed a one hour pilot, Faceless, for US television. He has also appeared in Outlaw, an independent British production, and a remake of 1986 horror film, The Hitcher (released in January 2007); here he used an American accent again. In 2009, he appeared in the Red Riding trilogy as the malevolent John Dawson. He also appeared in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010), playing the role of Zeus, the king of Mount Olympus and God of Lightning. Also that year, Bean starred in CASH (CA$H), playing the lead role of Pyke Kubic, a dangerous man determined to recover his wealth in a bad economy. CASH (CA$H), which co-starred Chris Hemsworth, explored the role money plays in today's hard economic times. Bean also played the villain's twin brother, Reese. The film was directed and written by Stephen Milburn Anderson (South Central).
Bean starred in the first season of Game of Thrones, HBO's adaptation of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin, playing the part of Lord Eddard Stark. Bean and Peter Dinklage were the two actors whose inclusion show runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss considered necessary for the show to become a success, and for whose roles no other actors were considered. His nuanced portrayal of what could have been a stereotypical "noble leader" character won him critical praise; as the A.V. Club's reviewer put it, he "portrayed Ned as a man who knew he lived in the muck but hoped for better and assumed everyone else would come along for the ride." HBO's promotional efforts focused on Bean as the show's leading man and best-known actor. The photograph of him as Ned sitting on the Iron Throne holding his greatsword was used for promotional posters and on the cover of the first season's DVD box set as well as the cover of a tie-in reedition of the novel A Game of Thrones.
In August 2012, Bean appeared as cross-dressing teacher Simon in the opening episode of the second season of UK television series Accused, a role which would earn him a Royal Television Society best actor award. Bean starred in Soldiers of Fortune alongside Ving Rhames and Christian Slater. Bean filmed Cleanskin, in which he plays a secret service agent faced with the task of pursuing and eliminating a suicide bomber and his terrorist cell. The film stars Charlotte Rampling, James Fox, Abhin Galeya, Tuppence Middleton and Michelle Ryan. The film was written, produced and directed by Hadi Hajaig and was released by Warner Brothers in UK cinemas on 9 March 2012.
He appeared in Tarsem Singh's Snow White film, Mirror Mirror, which was released in the U.S. in March 2012. Bean reprised his role as Christopher Da Silva in the Silent Hill film sequel Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. He co-starred with Ashley Judd in the ABC drama series Missing, which premiered in early 2012. Bean is slated to star with Aaron Eckhart, AnnaSophia Robb and Terence Stamp in Pan, a modern-day spin on J.M. Barrie's tale of Peter Pan, where Pan is a villain being hunted by a police captain named Hook.
Often described as down to earth, Sean Bean has retained his Yorkshire accent, despite now living in London. Partly because of his role as Sharpe, he is also described as a sex symbol. He was voted the UK's second sexiest man in 2004; placing just behind his Lord of the Rings co-star Orlando Bloom. He admits he does not mind being considered as a "bit of rough" by women. Bean's first love was football and he has been a passionate Sheffield United supporter from a young age; he has a tattoo on his left shoulder that reads 100% Blade. He was a director of the club until December 2007, but decided to "go back to the terraces, where (he) truly belong(s)". He had some issues with Neil Warnock, former manager of Sheffield United, after Warnock claimed that Bean stormed into his office and shouted at him in front of his wife and daughter after the final game of the 2006–07 season, when the club had just been relegated from the Premier League. Bean denies it, calling Warnock "bitter" and "hypocritical". He also wrote the foreword and helped to promote a book of anecdotes called Sheffield United: The Biography. He also follows Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
In addition to his image as a sex symbol and an admitted "bit of rough", Bean has developed a reputation as a loner, a label he considers unfair. He has described himself instead as quiet, and interviewers confirm that he is a "man of few words"; one interviewer called him "surprisingly shy". Although he admits he can be a workaholic, he relaxes with a book or listens to music in his spare time, and is a talented pianist. He is also a keen gardener, welder, and sketcher.
Despite being professionally trained, Sean Bean adopts an instinctive style of acting that some say makes him especially well-suited to portraying his characters' depths. He has said in interviews that the most difficult part is at the start of filming when trying to understand the character. After achieving this he can snap in and out of character instantly. This ability to go from the quiet man on set to the warrior Boromir "amazed" Sean Astin during filming of The Fellowship of the Ring. Other fans include the directors Mike Figgis (Stormy Monday) and Wolfgang Petersen (Troy), who described working with Bean as a "beautiful thing".
Bean has a younger sister named Lorraine. He has a tattoo of the English number nine, written using Tengwar, on his shoulder in reference to his involvement in the Lord of the Rings and the fact that his character was one of the original nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring. The other actors of "The Fellowship" (Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Ian McKellen, Dominic Monaghan, and Viggo Mortensen) have the same tattoo. John Rhys-Davies, whose character was also one of the original nine companions, arranged for his stunt double to get the tattoo instead.
Bean has been married and divorced four times. He married his secondary school sweetheart Debra James on 11 April 1981. The marriage ended in divorce in 1988. He met actress Melanie Hill at RADA, and they married on 27 February 1990. The couple's first daughter, Lorna, was born in October 1987; their second, Molly, was born in September 1991. Bean and Hill's marriage ended in divorce in August 1997.
During the filming of Sharpe, Bean met actress Abigail Cruttenden, and they married on 22 November 1997. Their daughter, Evie Natasha, was born in November 1998. Bean and Cruttenden divorced in July 2000. Bean began dating actress Georgina Sutcliffe in 2006. After cancelling their planned January 2008 wedding on the eve of the ceremony for "personal reasons", Bean married Sutcliffe at the Marylebone Register Office in London on 19 February 2008. Amid allegations that Bean physically abused Sutcliffe in 2009, domestic disturbances resulted in the police being called to their home in Belsize Park on three occasions. Bean and Sutcliffe's separation was announced on 6 August 2010, and the divorce was finalised on 21 December 2010. On 9 May 2012, Bean was arrested over claims he made harassing phone calls and sent abusive text messages to Sutcliffe and was later released on bail. All charges were subsequently dropped.
Bean began a relationship with actress Ashley Moore during the summer of 2013.
Bean has been a fan of Sheffield United since he was eight years old. He opened their hall of fame in 2001 and, after making a six-figure contribution to the club's finances, was on their board of directors between 2002 and 2007 to help raise the profile of the club. He stepped down in 2007 to return to, as he put it, go back to being an ordinary supporter where he feels at home. In 1990, he was reportedly so elated at the team's promotion to the top division of domestic football that he had '100% Blades' tattooed on his upper left arm.
Awards and honours
In 2013, Bean was named best actor at the Royal Television Society awards for his role in Accused. He has also received three separate awards as part of the ensemble cast in The Return of the King: from the Screen Actors Guild, the National Board of Review and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, all in 2004.
In his home city of Sheffield, he has received several honours and acclaims, including: an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in 1997; a second doctorate a Doctor of Letters in English Literature from the University of Sheffield in July 2007; he was selected as one of the inaugural members of Sheffield Legends (the Sheffield equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame); and a plaque in his honour has been placed in front of Sheffield Town Hall. Bean later commented, "I did get a doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University about 11 or 12 years ago so now I'm a double doctor. But this was wonderful, especially from my home city."
|1985||Exploits at West Poley||Scarred man||Television film|
|1988||Troubles||Capt. Bolton||Television film|
|1989||How to Get Ahead in Advertising||Larry Frisk|
|1989||Fifteen Streets, TheThe Fifteen Streets||Dominic O'Brien|
|1989||War Requiem||German Soldier|
|1990||Field, TheThe Field||Tadgh McCabe|
|1990||Lorna Doone||Carver Doone||Television film|
|1992||Patriot Games||Sean Miller|
|1992||Fool's Gold: The Story of the Brink's-Mat Robbery||Micky McAvoy|
|1993||Sharpe's Rifles||Sergeant/Lieutenant Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1993||Sharpe's Eagle||Captain Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1994||Sharpe's Company||Captain Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1994||Sharpe's Enemy||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1994||Sharpe's Honour||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1994||Black Beauty||Farmer Grey|
|1995||Sharpe's Gold||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1995||Sharpe's Battle||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1995||Sharpe's Sword||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1995||GoldenEye||Alec Trevelyan/Janus||Agent 006, 17th movie in James Bond series|
|1996||When Saturday Comes||Jimmy Muir|
|1996||Sharpe's Regiment||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1996||Sharpe's Siege||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1996||Sharpe's Mission||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1996||Decisive Weapons||Narrator||BBC4 TV documentary|
|1997||Sharpe's Revenge||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1997||Sharpe's Justice||Major Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1997||Sharpe's Waterloo||Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|1999||Bravo Two Zero||Andy Mcnab||Television film|
|2000||Essex Boys||Jason Locke|
|2001||Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, TheThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring||Boromir||Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Empire Award for Best British Actor
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
|2001||Don't Say a Word||Patrick Koster|
|2002||Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, TheThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||Boromir||Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—DVDX Award for Best Audio Commentary (New for DVD) (shared with others)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Extended Edition only
|2002||Tom and Thomas||Paul Shepherd|
|2003||Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, TheThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||Boromir||Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
|2003||Big Empty, TheThe Big Empty||Cowboy|
|2003||Henry VIII||Robert Aske||Television film|
|2004||Pride||Dark||Television film, voice role|
|2004||National Treasure||Ian Howe|
|2005||Flightplan||Captain Marcus Rich|
|2005||Island, TheThe Island||Dr. Merrick|
|2006||Dark, TheThe Dark||James|
|2006||Silent Hill||Chris Da Silva|
|2006||Sharpe's Challenge||Lt Col (ret'd) Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|2007||Hitcher, TheThe Hitcher||John Ryder|
|2008||Sharpe's Peril||Lt Col (ret'd) Richard Sharpe||Television film|
|2010||Black Death||Ulric||Screamfest Horror Film Festival Trophy for Best Actor
Nominated—Chainsaw Award for Best Actor
|2010||Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief||Zeus|
|2010||Ca$h (Cash)||Pyke Kubic
|2010||Lost Future, TheThe Lost Future||Amal||Television film, Also released on DVD on 27 September 2011|
|2011||Death Race 2||Markus Kane||Direct-to-DVD prequel to Death Race|
|2011||Age of Heroes||Jones|
|2012||Soldiers of Fortune||Dimidov|
|2012||Mirror Mirror||The King|
|2012||Silent Hill: Revelation 3D||Christopher Da Silva / Harry Mason|
|2014||4th Reich, TheThe 4th Reich||Sergeant Major Gordon||post-production|
|2014||Enemy of Man||Macbeth||Pre-production|
|2014||Wicked Blood||Uncle Frank Stinson||Post-production|
|1984||The Bill||Horace Clark||Episode: "Long Odds"|
|1986||The Practice||?||Episodes: "2.4," "2.5"|
|1988||The Storyteller||The Prince||Episode: "The True Bride"|
|1989||The Jim Henson Hour||Prince||Episode: Musicians|
|1990||Screen Two||Vic||Episode: Small Vones|
|1992||My Kingdom For a Horse||Steve|
|1991||4 Play||Smith||Episode: In the Border Country|
|1991||Screen One||Gabriel Lewis/Jack Morgan||Episodes: Prince and Tell Me That You Love Me|
|1991||Clarissa||Lovelace||Episodes: 1.1 and 1.4|
|1992||Inspector Morse||Alex Bailey||Episode: Absolute Conviction|
|1993||A Woman's Guide to Adultery||Paul|
|1994||Scarlett||Lord Richard Fenton||Miniseries|
|1998||The Canterbury Tales||The Nun's Priest||Voice
Episode: Leaving London
|1999||Extremely Dangerous||Niel Bryne||Miniseries|
|2008–2010||Crusoe||James Crusoe||5 episodes|
|2006||Faceless||Eddie Prey||Unaired pilot|
|2009||Red Riding||John Dawson||miniseries|
|2011||Game of Thrones||Eddard Stark||10 episodes: main character for 10 episodes in season 1.
Nominated—EWwy Awards for Best Actor
Portal Award for Best Actor (television)
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television
Nominated—Scream Award for Best Fantasy Actor
Nominated—Scream Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
|2012||Missing||Paul Winston||8 episodes|
|2012||Accused||Simon / Tracie||TV programme
Won—Royal Television Society Best Actor award
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor
Won—International Emmy Award Best Actor award
|2013||Family Guy||Portrait Griffen||"No Country Club for Old Men"|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sean Bean.|
- Sean Bean at the Internet Movie Database
- The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the RSC: Online database
- Works by or about Sean Bean in libraries (WorldCat catalog)