Originally from Sheffield, Bean worked with his father as a welder before turning to acting, and even in his most sophisticated roles he retains the hard masculine edge of a man who once sweated for a living. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, and then moved to film and a breakout role in 1990's The Field opposite Richard Harris in an unforgettable and critically acclaimed drama. In 1992 he won rave reviews in Patriot Games - starring opposite Harrison Ford in a provocative and complex portrayal of the tragic antagonist.
A detour from feature films came when he was cast as Bernard Cornwall's beloved hero of the Napoleonic Wars, Richard Sharpe. Like the novel on which it was based, the 1993 telefilm Sharpe's Rifles was so popular that it spawned sequel after sequel, and in 1997, with 15 Sharpe films completed, Bean was one of the best-known and most sought after stars in the UK, with legions of fans and dozens of websites devoted to following his every move.
So it was back to feature film, where he dazzled audiences in films as varied as Tom & Thomas, Essex Boys, Ronin and Anna Karenina. He most recently starred in Disney's blockbuster National Treasure opposite Nicolas Cage for director Jon Turteltaub. Other recent films include a most heroic Odysseus in Wolfgang Peterson's epic Troy alongside Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom; the independent The Big Empty with Jon Favreau; the sci-fi thriller Equilibrium with Christan Bale; and 20th Century Fox's Don't Say a Word opposite Michael Doublas.
On stage, he won rave reviews last year in London's West End in an acclaimed production of Macbeth in which he appeared opposite Samantha Bond. Classically trained, he also recently appeared in Henry VIII for Granada opposite Ray Winstone and Helena Bonham Carter, and has appeared in many productions at The Royal Court Theatre, Glasgow Citizen Theatre and the RSC.
Bean was most recently seen in The Island with Ewan MacGrregor and Scarlett Johansen, and Flight Plan(sic) with Jodie Foster and Peter Sarsgaard.
Voted by readers of Empire Magazine "the second sexiest man in England," Bean escapes madness by working non-stop in films around the world, and rooting for Sheffield United whenever satellite reception allows.
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