Either way, what every scriptwriter seems to prefer is something fatal happening to Sean Bean’s characters. Marlott, for instance, is haunted by death. He’s been dropped from a satellite dish in Goldeneye, peppered with arrows as Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, and decapitated in Game of Thrones. According to Nerdist.com, only three actors (Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi and John Hurt) have died on screen more often. This has led to the #DontKillSeanBean campaign, with clips of his many deaths on DontKillSeanBean.com.
“I have died quite a few times, to be fair,” he says with a grin. “I’ve seen that reel of clips – it sounds a bit macabre, but I watched that back, and I’d forgotten some of the scenes I’d died in.”
Does it give him pause for thought? “I didn’t take it to heart,” he laughs. Though becoming a grandfather does, he admits. He’s been married four times, to childhood sweetheart Debra James, Corrie star Melanie Hill, Sharpe co-star Abigail Cruttenden and actress Georgina Sutcliffe, and he’s now engaged to Ashley Moore. He has two daughters, Lorna and Molly, from his second marriage, plus Evie, with his third wife. It’s Molly who gave birth in September.
“Obviously I’m delighted I’m a grandfather but I guess it takes a little while to digest,” he says. “You start thinking, ‘Oh, I’m half- way over the natural life span. So this is the last bit and I’d better enjoy it.’”
In The Frankenstein Chronicles, renegade surgeons battle to defy death. Bean compares them to biotech firm Calico, which aims to slow then prevent ageing. “Given the option, I’d probably be tempted…” Bean says with a grin.
He continues: “I’m in the US a lot and I can see President Obama trying to push through free healthcare and the deal with Iran. I can’t understand why people are fighting against them – they’re both great achievements.
Everybody wants to leave a legacy, don’t they?” And what’s Bean’s ideal legacy? “I don’t know, really. For some reason, the parts I play, like Boromir or Ned Stark, have a life online long afterwards. I keep seeing, what do you call them – memes? “One does not simply ask for a drink” instead of “One does not simply walk into Mordor” – that sort of thing. They’ll probably be my unintended legacy. It’s a shame, as a Sheffield United supporter, that Boromir appears in West Ham colours.”