In the BBC drama “Time,” Sean Bean plays Mark, a former teacher struggling to adapt to prison after being sentenced for four years for manslaughter. During a conversation with Variety, Bean talked about getting into character to play a man tormented by his mistakes.
“He’s killed someone, but he’s actually a much, much better man for it,” Bean told Variety. “And I think that’s what Jimmy [McGovern] manages to get across, is that we have to go through so much pain and anguish and shock and sadness in our lives in order to come out a better person. And that’s quite heroic in some sense.”
Bean was joined by “Time” co-star Stephen Graham and writer and executive producer McGovern for a Variety Streaming Room FYC conversation. In a discussion moderated by Variety senior TV features editor Emily Longeretta, the three discussed working together on the show, filming on location in a real-life prison and what they took away from the experience of filming the series.
“Time” is a short series of television, at only three hour-long parts. According to McGovern, the show was originally conceived as a five-part story, but significant editing, both from himself and the BBC, cut it down to its final length.
“Towards the end of the writing process, I was absolutely totally convinced it would be four hours,” McGovern said. “And then the BBC said, ‘If you make it three, we’ll give you the green light immediately.’ And as soon as a writer hears ‘green light immediately,’ they go, ‘Yes, yes.’ So it became three. But it should have been three and a half hours. And I’ve got to say, I have never been more savagely edited, or more intelligently and sensitively edited as I was on this show. The editor was a genius. He really was. And he took this bulk of stuff. I think the third hour was 10 minutes over or something, but he edited it superbly well. So it was full of stuff. There was no fat. Everything in there was lean. Everything in there should have been in there.”
Graham, who plays prison guard Eric, shared during the panel that he was a long-time fan of Bean from the 1993 ITV series “Sharpe.” Graham described Bean as a role model for him in some ways, as another actor from a working class background.
“To be able to share the screen with him and be a part of something that he’s in and collaborate together, for me … it has just always been an absolute gift to work with Sean,” Graham said. “And I really hope Jimmy’s got another one, maybe not for a couple of years or whatever. But I hope he’s got another one in the bag there for me and Sean to do later on down the line. You know what I mean? Before he throws the towel in. I’d love that.”
“Time” is currently streaming on Britbox in the U.S. Watch the full conversation above.