Sean Bean talks to JOE about Game of Thrones and his cushy role in Ridley Scott's latest blockbuster
Ned Stark kicked off the bloodshed in Game of Thrones. Without him there would be no Jon Snooooow, so he is blatantly the one responsible for getting us hooked on the series.
Sean Bean's Eddard Stark may have been whipped out after nine episodes, executed in front of the Stark children at the demand of incest offspring Joffrey, but similar to how Sid Owen can't get rid of 'RICKY Butcher!' walking down the street, even he wanted to, Bean can't escape the cries of 'Ned!'.
"I get people shouting out 'Ned' a lot, but everyone is quite complimentary," reveals Bean. "They [fans] ask me ‘why did you die?’, I say ‘I just had to’, I didn’t have any choice'.
"It was really good to be involved from the beginning, setting the Stark family - and the Yorkshire accent…", Bean says, laughing.
Even though he was culled four series ago, he's still keeping up-to-date.
"I watch it on and off," he says, "But I'm probably going to get the box set and watch it all the way through from the beginning, now that I have some time off."
Whether it's for Lord of The Rings, Sharpe, Patriot Games, James Bond or Red Riding, there's no denying Bean is a household name. He's up there on the hierarchical scale of selfies. Imagine the Facebook likes for his face squished up against yours alongside the caption 'Ned Stark lives on!', or 'bumped into Boromir' or 'swashbuckling with Sharpe!'
I get the impression if you approached him for a 'Ned selfie', a 'Nelfie' on a really bad day, you'd have to be prepared for a possible short, stern 'f**k off'. He's from Yorkshire, remember, and Yorkshiremen don't mince their words.
Bean's home roots were what attracted Ridley Scott to him. The award-winning director invited the 57-year-old on board of his latest film 'The Martian' because of his performance in 'Red Riding'; a thrilling trilogy about Yorkshire during the 1970s and 80s.
Although for once, Bean wasn't taken on to be another bad guy or brandish any more swords - instead, Scott stuck Sean in a sweater and gave him a cup of tea.
Bean plays Mitch Henderson, who isn't launched into space at life-threatening speed and expected to report back from Mars - he's Nasa's Mission Director responsible for the astronauts' well-being from the ground. He's not as conventional as the other characters, he'll speak his mind and fall out with Nasa director Teddy Sanders (played by Jeff Daniels), but he doesn't chop any heads off.
Despite being a sedate role, Bean says working with Scott was "a great experience" adding "he’s one of the greatest and I’ve always wanted to work with him. I had a throughly good time."
Altering roles or scripts aren't up for discussion with the award-winning 'Alien' director, it's not his style. He knows who he wants to cast in his films from the off: as was the case with Bean, Matt Damon, Kate Mara and Jessica Chastain, who were all on his wishlist before he'd asked them.
Speaking to JOE at London's Dorchester hotel, Bean explains: "He knows who he wants to cast, he’s very clear about that, so when you get onto set, he’s not asking you to do something he doesn't think you can do. It’s a free and easy atmosphere for an actor."
Being used to a fracas, I thought Bean might be missing the action and violence on set. He's one of the original hard men after all, he didn't cause much of a fuss apparently when Harrison Ford famously caught him with a boat hook during the filming of Patriot Games, resulting in eight stitches above his eye and a lasting scar. I try to sneak a look at it during the interview but stop, as it's just weird when someone is talking to your forehead.
Laughing, the lifelong Sheffield United fan said: "It was quite nice it was civilised.
"I kind of like [fight scenes], it comes from something within...but it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it's well written, you always put 100 per cent in to what you do and try and put a convincing performance together, but it’s always a buzz to do action scenes."
Unfortunately Bean isn't now bezzies with leading star Matt Damon as the movie was shot on three different sets, of which Damon had his own. They never filmed together once. The first time they met was when the film was being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"We were all filming on different sets, we saw a few graphics but it wasn’t him. But when I did meet him, he was a nice guy," Bean says.
The star-studded cast have to be satisfied with how 'The Martian', in cinemas now, is being received, it's rocketing in the box office, setting a new records for an October film. It took $55 million in North America in its first week.
Damon must personally be chuffed with the reviews for his portrayal of Mark Watney, the astronaut who defies science by growing food on Mars and when it looks like he might perish, he has the universe rooting to 'Bring him home'.
It's hard to pick holes in the performance and it's refreshing to have an astronaut in a space odyssey who makes you laugh, and who is a problem solver and a glass half-full scientist. Okay so it's extremely unrealistic, emphasised all the more by it's sicklier than sickly sweet ending, but it's entertaining, not to mention spectacular-looking, thanks to Scott.
Is Bean pleased with the result? "Oh yes, definitely" he says convincingly. (I can tell he's looking forward to finishing his day of promo, even more so, probably, is his fiancee Ashley Moore, who sat in on our interview).
What is for certain, though, is that it won't be long before he's back being bad in fancy dress.