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Jan Thijs

Sean Bean’s kingly performance in Mirror Mirror is a crowning achievement.

The rise to king is often fraught with peril, treachery and adventure. So it’s been for 52-year-old actor Sean Bean, who braved Lord of the Rings’ Orcs, Game of Thrones’ backstabbers, and an assault on Mount Olympus in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief before finally ascending to the throne by playing the good king in Mirror Mirror, this month’s visually sumptuous Snow White redux. A dynamic rogue, the on-screen Bean is possessed of a sharp wit and an even sharper sword, two keys to his enduring Hollywood success. Offscreen, he’s a perfect gentleman, as American Way found out when we recently caught up with him.

American Way: With all the heroes you’ve played, it seems audiences would be glad to elect you leader of the free world.
SB: Yeah, well [laughs] … I don’t know that that would go so well for anyone, especially me.

AW: Hollywood has decided you look pretty good with a sword in your hand.
SB: Yes, they have. We all have our niche, don’t we? It’s good fun. I’ll never say no to a sword. It’s what boys do when they’re growing up, isn’t it? It’s exhilarating. I don’t ever tire of it. I usually win as well, which is nice. Well, these days I do.

AW: You studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in England. Is that where you got so good with the cutlery?
SB: Well, you start as a kid with sticks. That was my training. Then they taught me some things in school. It’s pretending; that’s all it is at the end of the day. You just have to remember not to nick someone — which Harrison Ford still hasn’t got down, I might add. He got me good on Patriot Games. I’ve got the scar, still.

AW: Mirror Mirror is one of many projects in a powerful fairy tale renaissance. Why do you think Hollywood has taken to these stories again?
SB: It’s tough times, mate. I think everybody’s struggling a little bit. They want to get away from this quite depressing situation we’re in these days. Fairy tales are good for that. Worry about the witches, not the economy. A lot of these fairy tales were first told to moviegoers during the Depression, if you recall. We step out of our daily lives and into another world. And with Snow White and the version we tell of that story, it’s just a wonderful story, whether you’re a boy or a girl, no matter your age. We all love a good tale.