Sean Bean 'Turned Down' Projects in Which His Character Dies: 'It Was All a Bit Predictable'

Eric Todisco

Sean Bean is no longer interested in taking on acting roles that lead to his character’s demise.

In an interview with The Sun on Thursday, the British actor, 60, revealed that after nearly two dozen of his characters died across 35 years in the business, he’s become much more selective when offered a job.

“I’ve turned down stuff. I’ve said, ‘They know my character’s going to die because I’m in it!’ ” said Bean. “I just had to cut that out and start surviving, otherwise it was all a bit predictable.”

Bean’s many iconic (but ill-fated) roles include Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, Alec Trevelyan in Golden Eye, and Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, who perished from decapitation, falling out of a plane, and being shot with arrows, respectively.

Added Bean, “I did do one job and they said, ‘We’re going to kill you’, and I was like, ‘Oh no!’ and then they said, ‘Well, can we injure you badly?’ and I was like, ‘OK, so long as I stay alive this time.’ “

Sean Bean | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

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“I’ve played a lot of baddies, they were great but they weren’t very fulfilling — and I always died,” said Bean, who has played villains in most of his roles, with one big exception: Game of Thrones.

“I’d read the Game Of Thrones books and they said to me, ‘You do die in this, but it’s near the end of the series,’ ” he recalled. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, fair enough’. So they made it very clear at the time I was going to die, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to get stuck in one of these series that lasts seven years.’ “

“But I wish I’d have got stuck now!” he added. “But it was very clear what George R.R. Martin wanted to happen to Ned — and it did.”

Bean was far from stuck on the widely popular HBO series, as protagonist Ned Stark was killed in the first season’s penultimate episode, which is still regarded as one of the most shocking moments.

Sean Bean as Ned Stark | Helen Sloan/HBO

But now moving onto his role as Douglas Bennett in the upcoming BBC One miniseries World on Fire, Bean is happy that his character has managed to stick around — so far.

“I survive in World On Fire, I’m at home in Manchester and I’m safe,” he joked.

Joining Bean in the seven-part war drama is Helen Hunt, Lesley Manville, Blake Harrison, and Yrsa Daley-Ward. The series follows Bennett, a bus conductor, who finds himself in a love triangle and still dealing with shell shock from World War I, just as the fight against the Nazis begins in 1939.

“These men were seen as weaklings and shirkers and pushed aside,” said Bean. “Thankfully now we understand about post traumatic stress syndrome and it’s treated very seriously, which is just as it should be.”

He continued, “I’ve spoken to people who’ve had shell shock before because I’ve played quite a few soldiers, and talked to them about their experiences. I read up on it and the symptoms.”


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Bean also spoke about the success of his GoT on-screen children since the HBO series wrapped, including Sophie Turner, who stars in the X-Men films, Richard Madden, who has received acclaim for his role in Bodyguard, and Kit Harington, the latest addition to the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals.

“They’re bigger stars than me,” he said. “They were so much younger at the time as it was eight years ago, but now you see them in Vogue and all these magazines. It’s a fairytale come true.”