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Outlaw - Sean Bean interview

Sean Bean in Outlaw

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SEAN Bean talks about appearing in Nick Love’s controversial Outlaw and some of his views on Blair’s Britain and its response to Iraq in particular…

What initially attracted you to the project and did you enjoy working with Nick Love?
I met Nick in a hotel about a year ago when the idea was still in his head. There wasn’t a script around. But I’d seen his work and he was someone I wanted to work with because he’s very innovative and passionate about what he does. That’s quite infectious and exciting for an actor, to work with someone who doesn’t pull his punches. By the time I’d finished talking to him for about two hours I wanted to be involved, even before I’d read the script. When it arrived three weeks later it was everything I expected it to be and more.

What do you think of the finished film?
Well, I think it has been a long time coming really. It’s relevant to today and people will be able to relate to it. I’ve worked on stuff that’s very formulaic. Some of the big American films tend to pander to an audience and over explain what a story’s all about without allowing them to make up their own minds. I think this hits you in the face. I saw it and was pretty shell-shocked by it. It took a while for it to sink in but that’s the mark of a good film.

Do you see the film as a direct criticism of Blair’s Britain or of the law and authority in general?
I think there’s always been crime to one degree or another. Bur I certainly don’t think this government has helped that. I think by ignoring the people in terms of going to war with Iraq – which has created a lot more violence everywhere in the world – shows a degree of arrogance that’s unacceptable. It’s not made the world a safer place.

We were all led a merry dance with that but we all know it was wrong now and are trying to blame other people for it. I don’t think that instills confidence or pride in one’s country. These guys are going over there and fighting a war that’s an unjust war but they’re doing their job and doing it the best they can. You often find that they come back disillusioned and they don’t have the support that they did when they were sent out in the first place. None of that helps with a sense of pride in our nation and I think somebody should take responsibility for this. I think the film touches on that and asks that question.

Didn’t you have your car stolen a while back?
[Laughs] About three years ago, yeah, but I wasn’t that bothered. It was a narrow street and the dustbin men kept coming pretty close by, so I was beginning to think it was more trouble than it’s worth – and then it got nicked. They found it in Dubai and asked if I wanted it back but I had the insurance money and got something else.

Did it inspire any similar feelings of resentment to those of your character in the film?
It wasn’t a particularly vicious incident. It’s when you’re talking about physical brutality and intimidation that the problem occurs and why people tend to feel that they should do something about it because they’ve been let down or failed.

You work predominantly in the States but would you work here more if you could get scripts of this quality? Or does it make more financial sense to work in America, with bigger budgets?
I’d definitely work here a lot more because these are relevant films that people can relate to. They want information and they want to know. Unfortunately, it’s so difficult to get things off the ground here for a small independent British film. I think we’d all agree that they’re the ones we want to be in because they’re so gratifying and exciting to be involved in. But when you look around, there’s not that many being made.

It’s also a question of money as well. These films are made on a lower budget, so you don’t get paid as much. I try and mix it a bit by going to Hollywood and doing things like National Treasure and stuff like that. It’s enjoyable but the difference financially is so big. If we could make films over here and get paid properly it would be a wonderful situation because there are so many stories to tell.

Q. Do you enjoy getting away from Hollywood for a while then?
The good thing about being able to work on something like this is that you’re not pandering to a studio or overbearing producer. Nick allows you to really push the boundaries and I think that’s what we all want to do as actors. It’s what makes films exciting.

Q. Nick has said that he was initially scared of Bob Hoskins’ reputation. You’re also a big name, so do you find that directors sometimes pussy foot around you?
Nick didn’t [laughs]. But that’s good, you don’t want people to pussy foot around you. Sometimes you do need to know which way you’re going and where you are in the story. Guidance is always helpful. Nick makes that very clear in a very nice way.

Read our review of Outlaw

Read our interview with Nick Love