SEAN’S BEEN TO HELL (AND HE LOVED IT)

Play­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tor who’s been brought back to life in The Franken­stein Chron­i­cles has been dead good fun, says Sean Bean

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS - Tim Oglethorpe

Sean Bean, the Hol­ly­wood sex symbol? At the mo­ment, he looks any­thing but. Chat­ting at Myra Cas­tle, an im­pos­ing house close to Strang­ford Lough in North­ern Ire­land where he’s film­ing se­ries two of ITV’s gothic hor­ror The Franken­stein Chron­i­cles, the York­shire­man looks like Worzel Gum­midge af­ter ten rounds with Mike Tyson. ‘My char­ac­ter John Mar­lott, a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor, has gone through Hell,’ ex­plains the 58year-old, ges­tur­ing to his un­kempt hair, week-long stub­ble and blood-stained shirt. ‘He was brought back to life af­ter be­ing hanged at the end of se­ries one, and has just es­caped from the men­tal asy­lum Bed­lam, where he’d been chained to a wall on the grounds he was crim­i­nally in­sane. Now he’s taken refuge in one of the poor­est ar­eas of Ge­or­gian Lon­don. He’s far more con­cerned with sur­vival than how he looks.’

The five-times mar­ried for­mer star of 90s Napoleonic War se­ries Sharpe, who still cuts quite a dash in a suit, is clearly en­joy­ing film­ing this new se­ries of the highly-rated pe­riod thriller. ‘I’ve spent the last week cov­ered in fake blood, and that tells you all you need to know about it. The first se­ries was more cere­bral, but this time round there’s vi­o­lence, pas­sion and heart­break. It does what it says on the tin and it gives you hor­ror by the buck­et­load.

‘It’s bril­liant to act in,’ says Sean. ‘There’s no “What’s my mo­ti­va­tion for this scene?” – you just do it! It’s daunt­ing when you just launch into the scene, it’s like jump­ing off a spring­board.’

Se­ries one of The Franken­stein Chron­i­cles, in­spired by Mary Shel­ley’s novel, be­gan with for­mer sol­dier John Mar­lott work­ing as a po­lice­man pa­trolling the River Thames. The dis­cov­ery of a hor­rific patch­work crea­ture made up of stitched-to­gether body parts in the shal­lows of the river set him on a mis­sion to track down its creator.

By the se­ries fi­nale, Mar­lott was clos­ing in on the vil­lain, only to be framed for mur­der and hanged. But in scenes straight out of a Hol­ly­wood hor­ror movie, dan­ger­ous sci­en­tist Lord Daniel Her­vey (Ed Stoppard) shock­ingly brought Mar­lott back from the dead – Franken­stein-style.

‘The story has moved on three years to 1830 and Mar­lott is still on a mis­sion to right the wrongs of the past but he’s a fugi­tive now, op­er­at­ing out­side of the law,’ ex­plains Sean. And there’s a su­per­nat­u­ral el­e­ment, too. ‘He’s not alive but nor is he dead – he’s some­where be­tween Heaven and Hell.’

En­ter­ing this dan­ger­ous world for se­ries two is for­mer Lewis star Lau­rence Fox, as Fred­er­ick Dip­ple, a Ger­man aris­to­crat with a keen eye for fash­ion and a pas­sion for ro­bots. ‘He’s in­cred­i­bly wealthy. I don’t think I get vaguely dirty, even when I’m fight­ing,’ says Lau­rence. ‘I think the en­tire cos­tume bud­get went on Dip­ple, and that is fine by me.’

Both Mar­lott and Dip­ple are drawn to­wards an­other new char­ac­ter, Es­ther Rose, a bril­liant seam­stress played by Maeve Der­mody, who pro­vides Mar­lott with lodg­ings in her home in run-down Pye Street, and in whom Dip­ple is ro­man­ti­cally in­ter­ested. Mar­lott mean­while can see ghosts, among them Es­ther’s late son. Sean says the su­per­nat­u­ral thread was part of the ap­peal of the show and why he was keen to sign up for an­other se­ries. ‘The su­per­nat­u­ral does in­ter­est me and I like ghost sto­ries. I wouldn’t say I like hor­ror, see­ing gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence and blood ev­ery­where, but I do like sto­ries of ghostly haunt­ings.

‘Although I’ve yet to see a ghost,’ he adds. ‘Frus­trat­ingly, there are sup­posed to be sev­eral at Myra Cas­tle. One even ap­par­ently turned up dur­ing film­ing, when I wasn’t around, in a very dark tun­nel which runs for half a mile from the main build­ing and dates back to 1844. We used it for film­ing and ap­par­ently a shad­owy fig­ure emerged that was there one minute, gone the next. I wish I’d been there to wit­ness it!’

Sean says he often re­ceives scripts for spooky shows where things go bump in the night, but most of them aren’t in the same league as The Franken­stein Chron­i­cles. ‘With some scripts, I barely get past the first page. So many are just pre­dictable and dull, and I get fed up read­ing medi­ocre stuff. Thank­fully, this show is much bet­ter writ­ten.’

A down­side of film­ing is be­ing away from his beau­ti­ful home in Som­er­set, which he shares with wife Ash­ley Moore, a for­mer nanny who is 26 years his ju­nior. But how would Sean feel about be­ing im­mor­tal like Mar­lott? ‘You could carry a lot of sad­ness and grief from los­ing loved ones. It sounds good on pa­per but I don’t know.’

The Franken­stein Chron­i­cles, Wed­nes­day, 10pm, ITV En­core.

‘I wish I’d seen the ghost that emerged on our set!’

L-r: Es­ther Rose, John Mar­lott and Fred­er­ick Dip­ple

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