Sean Bean discusses the legacy of Ned Stark


Ned Stark was only in nine episodes of Game of Thrones, but even now, dozens and dozens of episodes later, characters still talk about him. He is, by far, the most important dead character on the show, and actor Sean Bean is proud of that legacy. “It’s wonderful to be still mentioned because the character made such a big impact in the first season,” he told the Associated Press. “He was one of a very few good men. They’re all such backstabbers, poisonous people. He kind of stood out as a man with principles and morals and a good heart. A strong, confident man. That’s probably one of the reasons he didn’t survive. He wasn’t devilish enough.”

Sean Bean’s Game of Thrones legacy goes beyond Ned’s importance to the story. To hear Bean tell it, his natural northern English accent set the tone for many of the characters going forward, at least those from the North. “We did the read-through and the producers and directors and writers said, ‘Just talk like that, Sean. What do you think?’ I said, ‘Yeah, all right. Good with me.’ But then everybody who came after was part of the Stark family who had to adopt a Yorkshire accent.”

Speaking to Huff PostGame of Thrones casting director Nina Gold confirmed that this was indeed how it went down:

"After casting [Bean], we wanted to make people seem like they were a part of his family and part of the same anthropology. It set the tone for the casting of the rest of the North. I guess we were trying to make it have a homogeneous feel. [We] were trying to find something to bring them together … but also, it makes sense because it’s the North!"

Apparently, Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Richard Madden (Robb Stark) were quickest to pick up the accent. And Bella Ramsey (Lyanna Mormont) was such a natural at it that the producers didn’t even have her bother with an audition. And all this because Sean Bean talks a certain way. Sometimes things just work out.

In other topics, Bean discussed what he’s most famous for: dying on screen.

"I don’t mind. I remember Sean Connery once said that he doesn’t like dying in films. He doesn’t take jobs on where he dies in films. He doesn’t think it’s a good vibe or good karma. So I don’t know where that leaves me. I can understand that but I’ve done it so many times. It’s not intentional but I know I’m high up in the death table. But they’ve all been quite memorable. It’s a surprise when I survive. A quite nice surprise for me and, hopefully, for the audience as you always think I’m going to die."

At the moment, Bean is out there promoting The Oath, a drama on Crackle where he plays the imprisoned leader of a group of rogue cops. It’s a dark tale, but the most shocking thing about it is that, as of yet, Bean’s character is still alive. It had to happen sometime. We’ll talk when and if season 2 happens.

Bean’s sinister character on The Oath sounds pretty different from Ned Stark, but there is one thing they have in common: they don’t mince words. Bean chooses those kinds of parts on purpose. “I guess when your character is in darkness or is very cerebral and contained, you don’t have to learn as many lines,” he laughed. “You just do it with facial expression. They do actually tend to be men-of-not-many words sort of characters — I quite like that. I don’t like saying too much. I don’t like too much repetition.”

That certainly fits Ned Stark’s narrative M.O.: get in, leave a huge impression, get out, never be forgotten.

Next: Game of Thrones adds new structure to the King’s Landing set at Titanic Studios

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