Actor Sean Bean on his first pay cheque, blockbuster roles, and how his love of nature blossomed over lockdown
How much is an ounce of gold worth?
I thought it was about £1,250. I know it has been doing quite well. [It was £1,347.]
How did you earn your first pay cheque?
Welding fabrication. That was when I was 17, and I think I was getting about a £70 wage packet.
Are you more of a saver or a spender?
A bit of both. There’s not much to spend it on really! I don’t splash out, but at the same time I like what I like. Where is your favourite place in the world? If this is a heart thing, then it would probably be my home town, Sheffield. If it is somewhere now that I’ve chosen to be, it’s here in Somerset. London has obviously played a massive part in my life, too.
Tell us about your new BBC drama, Time
It’s a three-part series written by Jimmy McGovern about prison. About being in prison, spending time in prison. Stephen Graham plays a prison guard who gets embroiled in the all the decisions, smugglings and God knows what else. I happen to be spending time in prison after knocking someone down after drinking – I’m an alcoholic. It is directed by Lewis Arnold, who did Des, about Dennis Nilsen. He’s a wonderful director, fantastic – very daring and experimental. I had a magnificent time.
Do you prefer acting in films, TV or on stage?
I don’t really have a preference. Ten, 20 years ago, everyone wanted to do film, but the quality of television is so fantastic now that it doesn’t really make much of a difference. I think television is superior to film in many ways. You have more time to tell a story in more detail and depth. I’ve not been on stage since 2003. I played Macbeth on the West End. That was a fantastic experience.
Did you develop any interesting hobbies over lockdown?
I have always been interested in gardening. I planted quite a lot of trees during lockdown and a lot of bird boxes and bat boxes. I’m in the garden most of the day really.
You’re a fan of our previous Midas interviewee Monty Don…
I watch him every week. He has a wonderful way of looking at gardening. He is more of a naturalist in a sense and almost like a painter in the way he treats and visualises the world around him.
What is your favourite role?
Sharpe is one of them. It was a saga that went on for some years in different territories and different battles. I made some good friendships and just enjoyed the wonderful stories: a cavalier, daring, can-do attitude that Sharpe embraced. The other is a Jimmy McGovern series called Broken, in which I played a priest [Father Michael Kerrigan]. That was a fascinating journey for me. Jimmy wrote it with me in mind, and it came out beautifully.
The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones?
I’m leaning towards The Lord of the Rings. Only because I was 13 when I read the book and I never would have imagined I’d be in it and be a part of something very special. Mostly I was just in the Fellowship of the Ring and obviously I met my death – but it was a wonderful death!
Live to work or work to live?
I have other interests and other things that I enjoy doing and exploring outside of acting. But I really love what I do – facing new challenges, trying to achieve something different and experimenting with roles. But I value my time out of that also. I really enjoy my time at home with my family, with my wife and with nature. I’m not a workaholic. I’m quite selective about what I do, where I do it and for how long.