Game of Thrones star Sean Bean (Ned Stark) rolled out of the series (okay, bad joke) back in the penultimate episode of season 1, “Baelor.” It was a loss fans had to suffer way too soon, but in many ways, he never went away; Ned Stark casts a long shadow over the show, and his influence is still being felt. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Bean looks back on his short, impactful journey on a series that will go down in history as one of the best.
Looking back, Bean recalls meeting with series creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss before filming the pilot. He knew his role would be short-lived, but he embraced the opportunity nonetheless:
Yeah, we met for lunch in Soho, six or seven years ago now, before we started the pilot. We had a really good chat, and I was very thrilled to be asked to play the role. I think it was only myself and Peter [Dinklage] cast at the time. I was very thrilled by the whole idea. I didn’t actually know at that time how enormous and massive this series would become. I was just getting my head around the part, as we all were. None of us really could’ve imagined it would be such a big-scale, tantalizing drama. Yeah, that was the beginning of the story for me. And, of course, I knew I wasn’t going to last very long. I accepted that.
One of the things Game of Thrones fans will always love and cherish about Ned Stark is his integrity. It’s why, so many years later, we can’t stop talking about him. Seriously, every time I see Sean Bean, I can’t think of anyone else but dear ‘ol Ned. Why is this the case? Mr. Bean (ha) had some thoughts:
Throughout, he maintained his honor and his integrity, and I think that’s something viewers really took to their hearts. He’s one of the very few good men. He was the first good man in Game of Thrones, and he stayed that way to the bitter end. His sons and daughters have taken those values for themselves, and it’s a much richer show because of that — because of him.
You may not know this, but the original Game of Thrones pilot did not make it to air; it was heavily reshot to the point where it was basically a new episode, although there are a few scenes left over. Bean recalls a couple scenes cut from that original pilot, including ones featuring Ned Stark and his kids. “I quite enjoyed those scenes because there was a lot of horrible backstabbing going on, and I think those scenes stood out because they were very natural and people could identity with them: a father and his children.”
Sometimes somehow that pilot will make its way online and everyone will see why it had to be reshot. Someday…
Bean also recalled Ned’s death scene. Apparently it was funnier than it looked:
But I died, and then I had to do some scenes from earlier in the episode, so it wasn’t the end for me. We were in Malta; it was very hot. It was very colorful. Everyone was there, and with things like that there’s a sort of gallows humor to it. It’s awful what’s happening, and you start giggling and laughing. When the head fell off, there were mistakes. It didn’t quite work out sometimes. It was quite comic. So it breaks the ice a bit.
Then there’s Jon Snow to consider. Did Bean know of Jon’s actual parentage way back in season 1?
Not really. They said that some things happened, there were quite dramatic twists and turns. They let me know what they were within the first [season]. It was enough just keeping up with these intricate and complex story lines, with all the families and different worlds. Any more information would’ve probably been overload.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m still holding out hope for a headless Ned Stark (with severed head in hand) to appear in the final season. You never know!