Every now and then, an actor ends up becoming "that guy." You'll speak to
a friend about a movie you've just seen and say, "Oh, yeah, that guy
from such and such. Remember him?" It's usually a character actor who has
appeared in a number of successful flicks, but doesn't get the notoriety or the
publicity of his counterparts. Sean Bean has been "that guy" for
awhile, but it looks like he is about to move out of the shadows.
Most audiences will recognize the Brit for either his role in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, as the villain in "National Treasure" or as Odysseus in "Troy." A minority might even remember him as the head of the
cloning facility in "The Island." But, chances are they won't know his name. Bean
has just finished three more movies that may end up lifting him out of the
supporting arena: the videogame adaptation "Silent Hill"; the coal-mining drama
"North Country"; and the Jodie Foster thriller "Flightplan." Interviewed as he traveled Europe to promote the
international release of "The Island" (where it is actually a hit with
$100 million to date), Bean was especially enthusiastic about the Foster
"It twists and turns as it goes," he says of the mystery that features Foster
searching for her missing child on a plane in the middle of a trans-Atlantic
flight. "You start to think, 'It's got to be him or no, it has to be him.' It's
quite a big shock when you find out the person or persons that have been doing
this. It could even be the captain."
Bean plays that captain -- a character that, at first glance, isn't that
disturbed at the child's disappearance.
"This is a massive aircraft. It's got numerous stories and seven galleys," he
says of the fictional plane. "So, it's not inconceivable that this could happen
at the beginning. As the story goes on [Foster's character] becomes more and
more desperate and we start questioning her sanity. And as much as I want to
give her the benefit of the doubt, I have to make a decision because of
responsibilities to the airplane and the cargo. So, it becomes more bizarre as
it goes on."
"North Country" is a serious drama from director Niki Caro ("Whale Rider") that gave Bean the opportunity to act opposite
Oscar-winners Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand.
"I play a great
friend of [Theron's character] and Frances plays my partner who becomes quite
ill," he says. "Throughout the course of the film I look after her and ...
it's a very moving story. It's very poignant, very hard and very gritty. It's
like a play in some respects. The characters are so fantastic. I mean they are
really deep characters. It was just a joy to work on even though it was very
If both films live up to their potential, Bean just might take one more step
out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
"Flightplan" opens nationwide September 23; "North Country" opens
nationwide October 14.