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For a change in ‘Legends,’ Sean Bean doesn’t have a death scene

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Sean Bean stars in TNT"s "Legends." Marco Grob | TNT

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 09 2014 01:01AM
Updated Aug 10, 2014 05:40PM

Sean Bean has died on film. A lot.

A couple of those deaths have been really high profile. His character in "The Lord of the Rings," Boromir, was killed in a hail of orc arrows. His character in "Game of Thrones," Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark, was beheaded.

Bean has been cast as a walking dead man at least 23 more times. He’s been shot nine times and stabbed/slashed three times, and there were plenty of more, um, unusual deaths:

• He was bayonetted in "War Requiem" (1989).

• He was buried alive in "Don’t Say a Word" (2001).

• He was crushed by a giant antenna in "GoldenEye" (1995).

• He killed himself in "Tell Me That You Love Me" (1991).

• He was hanged in "Henry VIII" (2003) and "The Island" (2005), the latter after being shot through the neck by a grappling hook.

• He was quartered — pulled apart by horses — in "Black Death" (2010).

• He was drowned in "Lorna Doone" (1990).

• He was beaten, impaled by a boat anchor and blown up in "Patriot Games" (1992).

• He froze to death in "Far North" (2007).

• And he was run off a cliff by a herd of stampeding cows in "The Field" (1990).

So it was at least a little bit funny when TNT, the home of Bean’s new series "Legends," gave TV critics T-shirts emblazoned with #dontkillseanbean.

Bean said the interest in his many deaths is "quite bizarre. I guess, well, I’ve died quite a few times, actually, and I’ve died a lot of different deaths. Maybe it’s the quality of my death they’re fascinated by.

"I’m still here, anyway."

And his favorite death scene?

"I liked ‘Lord of the Rings’ — that death," he said. "I was quite happy. Big death."

Bean is currently starring in "Legends," a new spy drama on TNT. He stars as Martin Odum, an undercover agent who works for the FBI’s Deep Cover Operations. He has an uncanny ability to convince the bad guys he’s someone other than who he really is.

Except that Martin Odum may not be who he thinks he is, as he learns in the first episode of "Legends."

"It’s sort of, kind of a Russian [nesting] doll of who he really is," said executive producer David Wilcox. "And that’s really what this show is about. It’s about a guy who his identity is kind of the driving question."

Bean said he was attracted to "Legends" for the opportunity to play multiple characters — or, more specifically, a character who pretends to be different people.

"I just thought it was interesting to follow these characters that went undercover and to kind of see what the consequences were psychologically by doing that — having to totally believe that you were someone else, imagine yourself in another character and still try and lead a normal life with a wife and child," he said. "And I think that deals with that kind of dilemma — very serious psychological dilemma — that these guys or girls face when they go undercover."

Ali Larter, who co-stars as Crystal McGuire, a fellow operative, said it’s been fascinating to "watch Martin Odum really transform himself into these different legends that he’s created over the years."

"And for me as an actor to watch Sean morph into these different people is incredible to watch, and I don’t think you’ve seen someone of this quality take on a role like this," she said.

The propensity of Bean’s characters to die was not something Wilcox was thinking about during casting.

"That was not actually the main reason why Sean was cast," Wilcox said. "But it’s certainly kind of a fun benefit of the fact that that’s going to be a question."

Yeah, well, not so much of a question. "Legends" is a violent show. Several characters die in the first episode alone — including one or two you might not expect to see bite the dust.

But Bean survives. He is, after all, the star of the show.

"I’m going to be in this for a while," he said.

spierce@sltrib.com

Twitter: @ScottDPierce

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