MOVIE hunk Sean Bean is no longer the Hollywood villain – he’s landed the good guy role in a new Lord Of The Rings style fantasy adventure series.
He’s also fronting a new TV ad campaign to honour local hereos.
And it’s all a welcome change for the Sheffield superstar who was cast as a terrorist in Patriot Games, a double agent in Bond film Golden Eye, a wife-beating ex-con in Essex Boys, a kidnapper-jewel thief in Don’t Say a Word and a greedy treasure hunter in National Treasure.
In Game of Thrones, HBO’s upcoming $10 million TV adaptation of the George RR Martin novels A Song of Ice and Fire, he plays commanding officer Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark.
The series, to air in April, is being heavily marketed worldwide as the new big sword-wielding medieval fantasy, a la Lord of the Rings, with a sex-charged fight-for-power plot, like The Tudors or The Sopranos.
Filmed mainly in Northern Ireland and Malta, it chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among noble families for control of the Iron Throne of Westeros – where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime”.
“But Ned is a good guy. That’s a change for me,’’ he laughs.
“I suppose I seem drawn to medieval, magical fantasies. I happen to enjoy playing the kind of roles with riding horses, swinging swords, having fights, wearing wigs and growing beards. I do have an affinity to that kind of role.
“I read the book and it’s a great part. Knowing it’s backed by HBO means its going to be quality and David Benioff is the writer, who I worked with on ‘Troy.’ It’s just a wonderful production.”
“The Lord of the Rings was three films but this goes on much, much further and much longer, and there’s many more twists and turns.”
But as HBO’s Game Of Thrones looks set to crown him as king of magical medieval fantasies the Sharpe star is not forgetting his roots.
The 51-year-old is also the new face of a campaign to award unsung community heroes all over the UK.
He’s been the voice of TV ads for O2, Morrisons, Barnardos, Acuvue and even the National Blood Service. Now he’s fronting a new Oats So Simple TV campaign for breakfast cereal maker Quaker, which is sending out teams to reward people who demonstrate the brand’s ‘make more of your morning’ attitude.
The first TV ad shows Quaker providing new props and costumes for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Valley Community Theatre in Liverpool, which helps kids from less privileged backgrounds. Sean turns up to personally thank its director Martin Ball for his efforts.
And it’s the type of thing the down-to-earth movie star does for real.
Four years ago he handed an achievement award to his own local hero – Maurice Littlewood, who has worked tirelessly to improve the neighbourhood, running community groups, organising festivals and environmental improvements in Sean’s home village of Handsworth.
Retired engineer Maurice, 75, chairman of Handsworth Forum, also set up Amy’s house respite centre for parents of disabled youngsters, in memory of his eight-year-old granddaughter who died of meningitis.
Sean helped to secure a £400,000 makeover for his old stamping ground, towards creating a new community park on the run-down old recreation fields where he remembers playing football with jumpers for goalposts.
“Maurice is a lovely guy and has worked so very hard for the community. He is a local hero,’’ Sean told The Star at the time.
The Oats So Simple national tour arrives in Fargate, Sheffield, from Thursday to Saturday, March 3 to 9.
Nominations can also be made on the Quaker website, where you can find more details, including a tour map, at quaker.co.uk or at Facebook.com/quakerthankyou
n VIDEO: Watch our video chat with Sean talking about the Oats So Simple campaign and his upcoming projects.