Sean Bean doesn’t want to die. Not again.
Most every well-established actor gets to play at least one death scene in their careers, and many of them relish the prospect, especially when the character’s death is unexpected. Few things are more dramatically riveting than a character’s untimely passing.
With Sean Bean, however, deaths have become the actor’s stock in trade – so much so that it’s become a playfully morbid joke: “Sean Bean is in this. Well, we know his character won’t make it to the end.”
Now, Bean thinks the joke has gotten old, whether death comes at the hands of James Bond, a band of orcs or King Joffrey.
Sean Bean has had enough
According to the site Unilad, Sean Bean has suffered an onscreen death no less than 21 times. Now let’s put that in perspective. He’s been acting for 23 years, so that’s about a death per year.
If you Google “Sean Bean death,” the search engine’s autocomplete feature comes up with these suggestions: Sean Bean death reel, Sean Bean death compilation, Sean Bean deaths number, and Sean Bean death roles. There’s even a Ranker list of Sean Bean deaths.
It begins with 1986’s Caravaggio, where he slits his own throat. It ends with Game of Thrones‘ Ned Stark in 2011. The actor told the Sun:
“I’ve turned down stuff. I’ve said, ‘They know my character’s going to die because I’m in it!’ I just had to cut that out and start surviving, otherwise it was all a bit predictable. 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’. I’ve played a lot of baddies, they were great but they weren’t very fulfilling — and I always died.”
Sean Bean’s high-profile demises
It doesn’t help that Bean has met his end in four highly popular franchises. The one that introduced him to American audiences was the Jack Ryan series, where Bean starred in 1992’s Patriot Games. He played an Irish Republican Army villain who dies when an anchor impales him. Ow.
Three years later he played a rogue 00 agent in Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan’s first James Bond movie. In that film, 006 meets his maker when a burning antenna falls on him. Ouch. However, the movie that probably sealed his fate as “the actor who dies a lot” was probably The Fellowship of the Ring, where his Boromir dies after several orc arrows pierce him. Multiple ouches.
And last but not least was Game of Thrones, where Bean lost his head in 2011. Ned Stark’s death was supposed to be shocking, but should it have been, considering who was playing him?
Bean said, ‘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’. 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.”
Does Sean Bean really die that often?
Having to endure more than 20 deaths, many of them quite grisly, would be taxing for any actor. So it may surprise some people to learn that Bean is not, in fact, the actor who has suffered the most deaths.
Nerdist actually studied this and crunched the numbers, finding that Bean comes in fourth place. In front of him are two horror icons, Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi, at about 30 a piece. The leader of them all, however, was John Hurt, who had 43 — double Bean’s amount.
However, Price and Lugosi have both been dead for decades, and Hurt only just passed away in 2017, so Bean earns the ignoble distinction of being the living actor with the most death scenes. No wonder he’s saying uncle.
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