Decapitated by his own sword in Game of Thrones, splattered on a satellite in GoldenEye and impaled by an anchor during Patriot Games: Sean Bean doesn’t exactly have the best on-screen health and safety record.
Through his four decades of fatalities in TV and film, the Broken actor has built up a reputation for playing killable characters, portraying men that have been shot, stabbed and, in 1990’s The Field, trampled off a cliff by a herd of rampaging cows.
But which on his many on-screen deaths is his best? You’ve probably got a personal favourite, but now the actor himself has revealed to RadioTimes.com which of his deaths he thinks is definitively the best. And turns out there’s one on-screen fatality that rules them all: that of Boromir from Lord of Rings.
“I thought his death was very heroic and triumphant and poignant. It had pathos. And the [frame rate] slowed down and it had great music playing really loud. And it was great to try and fight back – he went on forever,” Bean told us, while miming Boromir’s dying sword strokes. “I was very happy with that! Better than a quick death!”
It’s worth noting that this is obviously only Bean’s favourite death so far – the actor could be killed off even more spectacularly in the coming years. But it’s not likely. As Bean admitted, he’s well aware of the trope and has actually asked writers of his recent projects whether his character dies before signing on (miming turning through scripts to check if they contain a death, he said “I just start at the end!”)
In fact, that’s exactly what Bean did before joining the cast of his new seven-part series, World On Fire. A BBC1 drama delving into the first year of the Second World War, the show will see Bean take the role of Douglas Bennett, a widowed veteran of the First World War and an ardent pacifist by 1939, World on Fire’s start point.
“He’s a firm believer that war isn’t a solution to the world’s problems. That’s basically because he’s been coloured by his past experiences, horrors and bloodshed in the trenches,” explains Bean. “He’s ostracised and abused in his own community for it.”
However, while Bean says he can understand his character’s viewpoint, he doesn’t necessarily agree with Douglas about the war. “Douglas doesn’t know about the horror and the [Nazi] brutality… he’s thinking of the First World War and how futile that was. You can’t blame him for that. It was one of the few wars that was a justifiable war…there’s not been many since, but that was a good ‘un.”
In other words, don’t expect a Boromir-style fight to the death from him in World on Fire. Unless the show rectifies history just to accommodate an obligatory Sean Bean death, he might, just might, get out of this one alive.
World on Fire is on BBC1 this Autumn