The last time we saw Sean Bean play Ned Stark, Ilyn Payne was chopping off his head with Ice, Ned’s own Valyrian steel sword. It was a rough moment, and the one that established Game of Thrones as a show willing to do the unexpected. It’s also an iconic moments fans discuss to this day. For example, ever notice that Ned mutters something right before the end?
Fans have long tried to guess Ned’s final words. Is he saying “Valar Morghulis”? Or perhaps he’s saying, “I kept my promise,” referring to his pledge to keep Jon’s parentage a secret. One theory even posits that Ned was whispering to Bran the Three-Eyed Raven. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Bean’s own explanation is simpler: Ned was saying a prayer.
"It appears that way, doesn’t it? I couldn’t be too specific because I don’t know if religion [like that] was around in those days, whatever they were. I just thought, ‘What would you do if this were really gonna happen?’ You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you’d keep it quiet. You’d keep it to yourself. It’s quite subtle in that many people wouldn’t pick it up. It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There’s not much you can do really, you’ve got your head on a block. That’s about the only thing you can do is murmur."
So it sounds like Bean ad-libbed the moment, which is interesting. And although Bean didn’t know it, Ned was definitely offering up a prayer to the Old Gods of the North.
Bean also addressed the persistent rumors that Ned Stark could, somehow, return to the show for the eighth and final season. Has HBO invited him back? “No, they’ve never said that. And yeah, I’ve heard rumors, but not from very good sources that I might be back. But I think I’ve done my time there, and I created a good character. It’d be rather strange to see him resurrected.”
You can currently see Sean Bean in The Oath on Crackle, and The Frankenstein Chronicles on Netflix. Will he live up to his reputation and die in those shows? It’s possible. According to the Post, his on-screen death ratio is just below Kenny’s from South Park. “I’m quite pleased with that. I don’t mind being slightly behind a cartoon character.”
Finally, Sean Bean appeared on the BUILD Series to talk up The Oath, and gave us his pick for who should sit the Iron Throne:
I think some fans are with him.