Sean Bean (17 April 1959 -)
An actor with a wider range than most people give him credit for, Sean Bean is also one of the most consistently reliable actors working today. He may be well known for his more villainous roles – which, admittedly, he’s very good at playing – but since playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), his career has become more varied and (no doubt for him as well as us) more rewarding. His tough, uncompromising demeanour belies a man who listens to classical music when he’s preparing for a scene, and who is still a fervent supporter of Sheffield United football club. He made his feature debut in Winter Flight (1984), and since then has amassed over a hundred credits in both the movies and on TV, including appearances in Lady Chatterley (1993), the Sharpe series of TV movies, and more recently, season one of Game of Thrones (2011). On the big screen he’s a familiar face who brings a certain degree of gravelly sincerity to his roles. Here then are five Sean Bean movies that feature some of his more under-appreciated portrayals… and where his character doesn’t get killed.
Tom & Thomas (2002) – Character: Paul Sheppard
A rarely seen children’s movie, Tom & Thomas sees Bean play the adoptive father of one of a set of twin boys (both played by Aaron Johnson, now better known as Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Once they meet, the other twin’s involvement with a group of child smugglers sets the pair off on a great adventure. It’s an enjoyable, unassuming movie, and it’s good to see Bean making the most of such a different role from the ones he’d been used to up until then.
Anna Karenina (1997) – Character: Count Alexei Kirillovitch Vronsky
Unfairly dismissed by critics upon release, Bernard Rose’s Russian-shot (and badly cut by the studio) version of Anna Karenina certainly has its problems in the script department, but remains a beautifully realised production of Tolstoy’s classic novel, with superb use of music by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Bean is a convincing, dashing Vronsky, and his scenes with Sophie Marceau are impeccable for the way in which both actors portray the overwhelming passion their characters feel for each other.
North Country (2005) – Character: Kyle Dodge
Bean takes a supporting role in another movie that broadens his career CV, playing the good friend of Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) who brings a class action suit for sexual harassment against the owners of an iron mine. Based on a true story, Niki Caro’s movie is eloquent, passionate, and inspiring, and Bean fits in well as one of the few men in Josey’s life who aren’t either sexist scumbags or manipulative, uncaring “primitives”.
Far North (2007) – Character: Loki
In this strange and haunting tale set in the arctic tundra, Bean plays a man whose sudden interjection into the lives of a mother and daughter leads to both unexpected passion and forecasted tragedy. Kapadia’s last feature until this year’s Ali and Nino, Far North is a tough, uncompromising movie made against some stunning backdrops and giving Bean the chance to reveal a less macho side to his acting.
The Field (1990) – Character: Tadgh McCabe
Although it was a commercial failure, The Field still has a good reputation amongst movie lovers, thanks in the main to Richard Harris’s performance as Bull McCabe, but there are other positives as well, such as Bean’s stalwart turn as Bull’s son. It’s a powerful portrayal of a son unwilling (or unable) to meet his father’s expectations of him. It’s a movie where tragedy is just waiting to happen, and where pride is the instigator of that tragedy, and in the hands of writer/director Jim Sheridan, packs such an emotional punch you’ll be bruised for days after seeing it.