Sean Bean is famous for always dying in movies and TV, but he's apparently had enough. The 60-year-old British actor is known best for his roles in films like GoldenEye and Lord of the Rings and as Eddard "Ned" Stark in the first season of Game of Thrones. What links many of his roles, to the point that it's become a meme, is that his characters normally die before the credits roll - something he's started to avoid.
Bean has a pretty good reason to be tired of going through on-screen deaths. The actor has been killed a whopping 21 times since his debut. The first death came in the 1986 film Caravaggio, where his character, the murderous Ranuccio, had his throat cut by the lead character. This set a very familiar precedent over the years in which Bean's villains and antagonists would all meet fatal, and often gruesome, ends. In 1992's The Patriot Games, Bean was a terrorist who is impaled on an anchor by Harrison Ford. In the horror-thriller The Hitcher, he creepily tormented a college student until she managed to shoot him in the head. Bean's deaths aren't limited to his villainous roles, though: as heroic or neutral characters, he's been pelted with arrows, forced over a cliff by rampaging cattle, and, of course, beheaded in front of a cheering crowd. He's even died twice in video games: 2007's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and 2018's Hitman 2.
Now, though, he's looking for change. "I’ve turned down stuff. I’ve said, 'They know my character’s going to die because I’m in it!’" Bean told The Sun. "I just had to cut that out and start surviving, otherwise it was all a bit predictable." According to the actor, roles that involved his untimely death used to be something he was comfortable with, even after it became a little bit of a trope. That changed after 2011, when his Game of Thrones character was killed in the first season before the show became an international sensation. That left a bit of a sting: "...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!"
Though generally happy with the direction of his characters, and with nothing but praise for his former Game of Thrones co-stars, Bean has wanted to find something fresh for a while. That desire probably had a lot to do with his casting in the upcoming World War II drama World On Fire, in which he plays a PTSD-afflicted war veteran named Douglas Bennett - who survives the entire series. “I survive in World On Fire, I’m at home in Manchester and I’m safe," Bean joked of the character.
Whether or not the Sean Bean death joke will actually go away is unclear. Even though he's not had an on-screen death since Game of Thrones in 2011, the memes haven't stopped. If anything, Ned Stark sealed this as his legacy.
Regardless, Bean has quite a bit of potential for roles going forward. Though he considers himself past the point of playing heroic leading men, he's very open to taking on more supportive and dramatic characters like Douglas Bennett. He also seems excited to go deeper into the growing world of TV and streaming content, a journey he began with Thrones and continued through the 2014 series Legends and, now, World on Fire. Hopefully, audiences can look forward to deep performances from the newly-energized actor, and to learning not to expect a bloody end for his future characters.
Source: The Sun