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 Jacksonís 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.
Hey Sean. So you once said you'd never play another role like this (ie a bad guy)Ö
Sean Bean: 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 quite good at it though...
SB: Which is why they keep asking me to do them (laughs)!
Have you ever gone hitchhiking yourself?
SB: NoÖ I donít think Iíd like to get in anybody elseís car, actually.
Did you ever pick someone up?
SB: Well, I suppose itís the charitable thing to do. But thereís always somebody else coming up behind, so Iím sure they always get there (laughs). A lot of kids go off hitchhiking in Europe during their gap year. I suppose itís a relatively safe thing to do. I donít know if Iíd let my kids do it, though. Actually, I know I would mind. I wouldnít tell them to get in a car with anybody. I just think itís a weird thing to do, to get into a strangerís car.
Your look in The Hitcher is quite distinctive. How did it come about?
SB: 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. Itís certainly not the sort of costume youíd want to keep after you finished filming Ė a grey mack and a light blue shirt!
What's it like playing a part like this?
SB: 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 madÖ At the end of the day, you have a few beers, play some music andÖ smash me hotel room! (laughs).
Do you enjoy watching horror films?
SB: I get a bit scared with scary films. But I quite like that feeling.
What's the best horror film you've seen?
SB: The Exorcist. That really terrified me. I was probably about 15 when I saw it.
Were you a fan of the original Hitcher?
SB: I enjoyed it, yeah. What was it 20-years ago? I saw it in the cinema. But I wasnít fanatical about it or that kind of thing.
Are you concerned about unfavorable comparisons?
SB: 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?
SB: 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 Ė things that you create, there and then, so youíre not guided by anybody elseís performance. Thatís why I didnít want to see the original again, because I didnít want to be influenced by that. I mean, Iíve played Macbeth as well and actors have been playing that one for 500-years, now, so I suppose itís a remake every time you do it, tooÖ
I canít 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 wasnít aware of which I found quite interesting and satisfying. It means I wasnít 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 donít know what he wants. And I think thatís what makes it scary.
Did you know what he wanted?
SB: I donít know what he wanted. I didnít have to. There are a number of possibilities. Maybe he wanted to die and be rid of the evil inside him? Maybe he just didnít care? Maybe he just wanted to kill who he wanted until he was killed himself? Maybe itís just a combination of all those things? Or maybe it was just nothing at all...
What scares you?
SB: Sheffield United losing on Saturday afternoonsÖ That scares me most!
So we take it you're still a big football fan
SB: Sheffield United, yeah, yeahÖ
Did you get another tattoo?
SB: I did actually, yeah. We got promoted to the Premiere League. So I got a tattoo on my wrist. ďS-U-F-CĒ 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, weíd get the tattoos.
How often do you go to watch?
SB: As often as I can. I go up there quite a bit. Iím the director of the club. So I get a special seat now and stuff like that.
What does the director of the club do?
SB: He gets a big leather seat (laughs). And canapťs at halftime!
Were you any good at footbal?
SB: I was OK. I was passable, yeah. But I wasnít great.
If you'd had the choice between the two...
SB: I would have been a footballer, up till my pass-bye date. And then Iíd 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 realise you weren't going to be one?
SB: When I was 14. I just realized the ball wasnít going in the right direction anymore (laughs). I knew I wasnít as good as a lot of the other kids around me.
Do you still play?
SB: I do. I play five-aside, now and again, when I go back to Sheffield. Thatís first love and last. Thatís true love.
Apparently you almost weren't able to shoot The Hitcher
SB: YeahÖ I was doing a film in England called Outlaw. The days were conflicting, so at one point it looked like I wasnít 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.
Iíd 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 constructedÖ So I didnít have any hesitation, you know.
What did you do in that one week to prepare?
SB: 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, letís get on with it. It was fast. I would have liked to have had more time. But that wasnít 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?
SB: Yes, this film, Outlaw, which I was talking about. And Iíve 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...
SB: I think itís a good thingÖ No, itís got to be a good thing. I canít worry about getting typecast and things like that!
1st Nov 04 Above all though, it is the relationship between John and Laura Baxter which is the filmís central focus throughout, and the gradual disintegration of their relationship amidst a haze of grief.