In The Hitcher, Sean Bean stars as a mysterious stranger who plays a deadly game of cat and mouse on the back roads of New Mexico - leaving a trail of blood, mayhem and twisted metal in his wake. A veteran performer from the North of England, Bean sprang to prominence as Boromir in Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy, having made his name in films like Stormy Monday, The Field and opposite Harrison Ford in Patriot Games. A Sheffield native and self-described football fanatic, he makes his home in North London.
YOU ONCE SAID, YOU’D NEVER PLAY ANOTHER ROLE LIKE THIS…
Did I? Well, I changed my mind (laughs). I mean, in Troy, I was quite good. And then I played somebody else good. I guess I must have gotten fed up with playing gentlemen.
YOU’RE ALSO QUITE GOOD AT IT…
Which is why they keep asking me to do them (laughs)!
HAVE YOU EVER GONE HITCHHIKING YOURSELF?
No… I don’t think I’d like to get in anybody else’s car, actually.
DID YOU EVER PICK SOMEONE UP?
Well, I suppose it’s the charitable thing to do. But there’s always somebody else coming up behind, so I’m sure they always get there (laughs). A lot of kids go off hitchhiking in Europe during their gap year. I suppose it’s a relatively safe thing to do. I don’t know if I’d let my kids do it, though. Actually, I know I would mind. I wouldn’t tell them to get in a car with anybody. I just think it’s a weird thing to do, to get into a stranger’s car.
YOUR LOOK IN THE HITCHER IS QUITE DISTINCTIVE. ALMOST ICONIC. HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
We sat down with the costume department and came up with this image, which is fairly nondescript, actually. A regular guy that you might meet in the shopping center. Something that was neither here nor there. It’s certainly not the sort of costume you’d want to keep after you finished filming – a grey mack and a light blue shirt!
WHAT’S IT LIKE PLAYING A PART LIKE THIS?
I found it kind of fun, to tell you the truth. It was pretty focused and pretty tense, because of the nature of the film. But it was also a lot of fun. Because I was doing such wicked and horrible things to people, it was nice to have a bit of a joke about it in-between. Otherwise, you just go absolutely mad… At the end of the day, you have a few beers, play some music and… smash me hotel room! (laughs).
DO YOU ENJOY WATCHING HORROR FILMS?
I get a bit scared with scary films. But I quite like that feeling.
WHAT’S THE BEST ONE YOU’VE EVER SEEN?
The Exorcist. That really terrified me. I was probably about 15 when I saw it.
WERE YOU A FAN OF THE ORIGINAL HITCHER?
I enjoyed it, yeah. What was it 20-years ago? I saw it in the cinema. But I wasn’t fanatical about it or that kind of thing.
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT UNFAVORABLE COMPARISONS?
Not really. No. I just saw it as something new that we were doing. I saw the film once before, as I said, and thought it was a good film. I just wanted to not be influenced by it.
HOW DID YOU MAKE IT YOUR OWN?
By just taking it off the page. From discussions with the director. And things that happen on the spur of the moment on the day – things that you create, there and then, so you’re not guided by anybody else’s performance. That’s why I didn’t want to see the original again, because I didn’t want to be influenced by that. I mean, I’ve played Macbeth as well and actors have been playing that one for 500-years, now, so I suppose it’s a remake every time you do it, too… I can’t put my finger on the things that I brought to The Hitcher when I watch my performance. But I found there are things in there that I wasn’t aware of which I found quite interesting and satisfying. It means I wasn’t monitoring myself or my performance or being influenced by anybody else. At the end of the day, this character is very deranged and very confused. I just played that confusion. You don’t know what he wants. And I think that’s what makes it scary.
DID YOU KNOW WHAT HE WANTED?
I don’t know what he wanted. I didn’t have to. There are a number of possibilities. Maybe he wanted to die and be rid of the evil inside him? Maybe he just didn’t care? Maybe he just wanted to kill who he wanted until he was killed himself? Maybe it’s just a combination of all those things? Or maybe it was just nothing at all...
WHAT SCARES YOU?
Sheffield United losing on Saturday afternoons… That scares me most!
ARE YOU STILL A BIG FOOTBALL FAN?
Sheffield United, yeah, yeah…
DID YOU GET ANOTHER TATTOO?
I did actually, yeah. We got promoted to the Premiere League. So I got a tattoo on my wrist. “S-U-F-C” Sheffield United Football Club. I got it in May. We got promoted to the Premiere League for the first time in thirteen years. Me and couple of my friends said if we ever get promoted again, we’d get the tattoos.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU WATCH?
As often as I can. I go up there quite a bit. I’m the director of the club. So I get a special seat now and stuff like that.
WHAT DOES THE DIRECTOR OF THE CLUB DO?
He gets a big leather seat (laughs). And canapés at halftime!
WERE YOU GOOD AT FOOTBALL?
I was OK. I was passable, yeah. But I wasn’t great.
IF YOU’D HAD THE CHOICE BETWEEN THE TWO…
I would have been a footballer, up till my pass-bye date. And then I’d have been a successful actor (laughs). But if I had to choose at that age when I was a kid, 9 or 10, well, you want to be a football player.
WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU WEREN’T GOING TO BE ONE?
When I was 14. I just realized the ball wasn’t going in the right direction anymore (laughs). I knew I wasn’t as good as a lot of the other kids around me.
DO YOU STILL PLAY?
I do. I play five-aside, now and again, when I go back to Sheffield. That’s first love and last. That’s true love.
APPARENTLY YOU ALMOST WEREN’T ABLE TO SHOOT THE HITCHER?
Yeah… I was doing a film in England called Outlaw. The days were conflicting, so at one point it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to do this one. Fortunately, we managed to work around it and work things out. In the end, I had about a week to prepare. I’d worked with producer Michael Bay before on The Island. I felt comfortable with him and knew that whatever he put together would be pretty well constructed… So I didn’t have any hesitation, you know.
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THAT ONE WEEK TO PREPARE?
I just had to change my accent, really (laughs). I met Dave director; Dave Meyers for dinner the night before we started filming. We had a chat about the part and were pretty much in agreement on how it should go. We shook hands and said, let’s get on with it. It was fast. I would have liked to have had more time. But that wasn’t the case. Still, I felt pretty good about what I was doing. First day on set, I felt good, secure and confident.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER FILMS COMING UP?
Yes, this film, Outlaw, which I was talking about. And I’ve got a film called True North coming out next year about three people who live together in the wilderness. We shot it in Norway, in the very tip.
AND WHAT HAPPENS IF THE HITCHER IS A BIG HIT? YOU MIGHT END UP PLAYING BAD GUYS FOR SOME TIME TO COME…
I think it’s a good thing… No, it’s got to be a good thing. I can’t worry about getting typecast and things like that!