'Thrones' star plays advisor to king

The moral center of HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” is Sean Bean’s Lord Eddard Stark, an honorable battle-hardened warrior who leaves his home and splits up his beloved family to go serve as advisor to the troubled king.

“He’s a character I’ve not really played before,” Bean says. “I’ve played many strong characters, but always a bit on the sinister side. It was quite a change to play someone strong, loyal and courageous, who puts his faith in his family, his king and his realm.”

The series shot in Northern Ireland and Malta. The cast faced everything from rain, wind and mud to 90-degree heat and baking sun. Bean wore ice packs on his back to cool down under costumes heavy with leather and fur.

The physical demands also included fight sequences. In one sword fight, Stark fights honorably but is badly wounded in a sneaky move by his opponent’s minion.

“That scene is emblematic of him in the sense that he’s powerful, but he’s constantly foiled and threatened,” Bean explains. “He’s a fish out of water but keeps his dignity and loyalty. He’s constantly battling to keep those qualities.”

To prepare, “I just tried to be good,” Bean laughs. He also read the bestselling George R.R. Martin novels that inspired the series.

“That was a real benefit, having the book to garner information,” he says.

Bean sees the fantasy kingdom of “Games” as a mirror of our world: “People do things for power and money. The values, feelings and morals are the same.”

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: THE ACTOR
Antiheroes and the actors who love them | Actors always playing the bridesmaid | Prior noms hope to repeat | Actors in Emmy contention
Lead Actor Contenders
Sean Bean | Steve Buscemi | Jeremy Irons | Matt LeBlanc |

Andrew Lincoln | Louis C.K. | William H. Macy | Tom Selleck

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more