It’s the “Game of Thrones” reveal we’ve Bean waiting for.
From the Red Wedding and a certain character’s resurrection, to anything dealing with dragons, the HBO show has made a living off unexpected moments. However, none of these moments would’ve been possible if not for the crazy one that started it all:
When Ned Stark (Sean Bean) lost his head.
The North remembers, dude.
Ned’s death scene is brief. You see the sword coming down and his head starting to leave his body, but then the camera cuts away.
The execution has had a lasting impact on the show, essentially setting in motion everything that’s happened since. But up until now, a question has lingered ...
What were Ned Stark’s final words?
If you look closely at Ned in his final seconds, you can see he’s whispering something. For the longest time, fans have been wondering, what was he muttering?
The theories about Ned’s final words are wild. Some suggest he was delivering one of the show’s favorite phrases, “valar morghulis,” meaning all men must die. Others propose that Ned was thinking about Jon Snow’s secret parentage, perhaps saying, “I kept my promise” as he died. And there are those who argue Ned was trying to communicate with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who might have time-traveling capabilities.
There’s even speculation that Ned could’ve warged or somehow switched bodies, thus not dying at all. In fact, theorists who suspect Ned Stark is still alive believe his secret final words could lend credence to that speculation.
Well, in an interview with HuffPost about his new show “The Oath,” Sean Bean set things straight.
Ned was ... “just saying a prayer.”
“It appears that way, doesn’t it?” Bean said, alluding to the fact that, yes, it does appear as though the doomed man is praying. “I couldn’t be too specific, because I don’t know if religion [like that] was around in those days, whatever they were. I just thought, ‘What would you do if this were really gonna happen?’ You probably would pray. You probably would murmur some words and you’d keep it quiet. You’d keep it to yourself.”
“It’s quite subtle in that many people wouldn’t pick it up,” he added. “It was an interesting thing to do for me at that point. There’s not much you can do really, you’ve got your head on a block. That’s about the only thing you can do is murmur.”
As far as all those rumors and theories that Ned’s coming back, don’t count on it. Bean said HBO hasn’t contacted him about any possible return, and he thinks that would be weird anyway.
“No, they’ve never said that,” Bean said. “And yeah, I’ve heard rumors, but not from very good sources that I might be back. But I think I’ve done my time there, and I created a good character. It’d be rather strange to see him resurrected.”
In other words: Bean there, done that. Though he doesn’t plan to return in Season 8, Bean seems proud of Ned’s impact on the show. He was even appreciative after learning that fans jokingly suggested that a headless character who appeared during Season 6′s “Battle of the Bastards” was a Ned Stark cameo.
“Oh, really?” he said. “I didn’t see. Oh, that’s cool. That’s very clever.”
During our interview, Bean continued talking about his new show on the Crackle streaming network, “The Oath,” a drama about corrupt police and gangs, what happened after he was stabbed in real life, and what it was like seeing Nic Cage break and bury a prehistoric bear skull.
In “The Oath,” your gang, the Ravens, all have raven tattoos, and it reminded me of you getting a tattoo for “Lord of the Rings.” What’s it like looking back on that?
It’s OK. I haven’t seen it for a while. I mean, it’s on my arm [laughs]. I think when you first get a tattoo you look at it every hour, but after 20 years you think, “Well ...” But it’s good. I’m quite proud of it. All the members [of the “Fellowship of the Ring” got one. There were nine of us, and it means No. 9 in the Elvish language, so it was a good memory, yeah.
You’re very famous for dying on screen. You’ve already said you make it through this season on the show. But I was worried for a bit when your character got stabbed.
Oh, yeah! That was good. Yeah, that was pretty easy. That, compared to some of the other stuff I’ve done, it was very straightforward. It’s not so much about making it gory and bloody and everything, it’s just the way it’s shot, really that sometimes makes a great death scene. And how you and the director work together can be effective. The weirdness of it is more scary than the blood.
Was there ever talk of your “Oath” character dying?
I think. I’m not sure. I think there was talk of me dying and then when we started ... I think they liked what I was doing. I think the decision was made to kind of keep me alive in case they want me in Season 2.
Did you ever see a stat going around saying you were just behind Kenny from “South Park” in terms of ratio of on-screen appearances to deaths?
Am I behind him?
Yeah, you’re just behind him.
Oh, I’ll have to get some jobs. Some dying jobs. Yeah, I’m quite pleased with that. I don’t mind being slightly behind a cartoon character.
I don’t know how much of this is true, but there was a story that you actually once got stabbed, stayed at the bar you were at and ordered another drink. Did that happen?
Oh my gosh. What? For real?
Well, yes, it calmed me down a bit [laugh]. Yeah, well, probably the best thing to do is [get a drink]. Yeah, it wasn’t a particularly nice incident, so I don’t want to go into specifics. It wasn’t that bad. I think I’d rather finish my pint.
Another story is that you were in “National Treasure” with Nic Cage, and you saw him break a prehistoric bear skull at his house?
Yeah, that’s right. Well, he broke it.
What actually happened? Because I want to hear everything about this.
We had a few drinks and he took us back to his place in Los Angeles, and I think it’s like his big den, you know? He’s got all his favorite toys and memorabilia in there, so it’s like a big playpen for him, and he had a cave bear skull. We were playing pool and he went to take a shot, and he knocked it over accidentally. He smashed it to smithereens.
He got quite upset about it, and the next day he said, “I’ve got to go bury it now somewhere to say ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you.’” And I says, “Well, I’ll have it. I can mend it, you know? I can glue the jaw back on and the teeth.” He says, “No, it’s got to go into the ground.” He was really quite serious about it, and I always remember that, but he’s a very quirky guy.
I liked him. I got on very well with him, and I think he’s actually living around where I live in Somerset in England now. He’s got a house there, so I’ll probably bump into him soon.
That’d be great! What if he asked you to be in “National Treasure 3”? Would you want to do it?
I don’t think so. I thought the first one was good. The second one was OK, but I thought it was good as an idea and I think that it’s kind of run its course. I’m not particularly interested in doing No. 3. I wasn’t in two, so I don’t think I’d be in three.
What about going back down to Puerto Rico, where you filmed “The Oath,” for another season?
I think there’s talk of doing that. [We’ve] not given up on Puerto Rico, quite the opposite. [We] want to work there again, so that’s good for the island [and] for the people.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.