Sean Bean talks 'Game of Thrones' Episode 9


Image Credit: HBO

Class 5 Spoiler Warning!

The following interview includes a major plot point from Episode 9 of Game of Thrones…

Below, the Game of Thrones star chats with EW about this week’s twist that since hitting East Coast viewers an hour ago has had Twitter exploding with surprised comments (and outrage).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What did you think of Ned’s story?
SEAN BEAN: I thought it was a very courageous move for a television company. I know HBO has a track record of bold moves, but I thought this is pretty incredible if they can pull this off. I love the character, that he’s a principled man who tries to hold things together. This is a journey that he makes where ultimately his loyalty causes his downfall. But I just thought it was a wonderful piece of work.

Did knowing Ned’s fate change how you played him?
I knew I had to get quite a lot in before I got my head chopped off. I think you just play what’s on the page — he’s a good man trying to do his best in the middle of this corruption, he’s a fish out of water, he’s used to being up north in Winterfell where people are pretty straight and pragmatic, and he comes down to a place where people are playing games and backstabbing.

Was there any reluctance to play a doomed fantasy character after having created such an iconic one in Lord of the Rings?
Not really. His death was as much a surprise to me as anyone. In Lord of the Rings that death scene worked out quite well and Peter Jackson shot it beautifully, so it was quite heroic, and that also applies to the Ned Stark scene. It’s shocking and sad for his young daughter in the crowd.

What would you say to fans who are upset by the episode?
Ah, sorry about that! Tell them to blame George R.R. Martin.

Sean Bean will next be seen in ABC’s midseason drama/thriller Missing along with Ashley Judd.

HBO defends ‘Game of Thrones’ shocker

‘Game of Thrones’ Episode 9 recap: The Killing: Our take on Ned Stark’s death
‘Game of Thrones’ shocker! Producers explain this week’s horrific twist

Comments (239 total) Add your comment
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  • ks

    Should know that-Every role he plays he either dies or leaves. It was no suprise really.

    • Maggie

      except Richard Sharp! He lives right though to the end of Waterloo!

      • ks

        I stand coreccted-Thanks

      • harry

        “Over the hills and far away”

      • CalifGina

        He didn’t die in National Treasure or Troy either….

      • fre

        i thought sean bean played the exact same charector in sharpe as game of thrones, but i love them both,
        the two best tv series of all time
        sean stars in both so he must be the best leading man of tevevision of all time,
        also the dwarf was brilliant

    • Done with the show

      You will be missed, Sean Bean. You are such a fine actor and you were the reason why I started watching the show. I’m not really interested in watching it anymore.

      • lostidol

        Then you’re doing yourself a major disservice – because the best is yet to come.

      • Roderick

        You need to grow a pair and grow up.

      • Sean

        only thing that made me watch this show were Sean and Peter Dinklage
        if they get rid of Peter they can go f*ck themselves

      • Dave

        What a shocker, I thought for sure an archer was going to shoot the executioner or something at the last moment as that always happens in movies. This sucks though, Sean Bean was one of the primary reasons why I gave this show a shot, but man I’m hooked and I need to know whats going to happen next.

      • Ben

        I agree with you. This is a great show, but the main draw for me was Sean Bean. With him in the show, I could enjoy and get invested in the other characters. With Sean Bean gone, I could really care less about what happens next. I know that is not fair, but it is true. Sean Bean is the Bruce Willis of the Middle Ages. You can’t just kill off Bruce Willis is the middle of Die hard, and expect the supporting characters to carry the rest of the movie. I will probably watch the final episode, but I definitely won’t return for the second season.

      • Lala

        To all those weirdos who’ll stop watching because of his death – you should watch something like Twilight, there you’ll get all the clichés you desire and Edward won’t die. Jeez, how old are you?

      • bfd

        I’ve been reading the books and I stopped watching because I found the series too slow for me (I’ll go back and watch during a marathon). I was glad for Ned’s death. He seemed way to altruistic for this created world and did things bass akwards. Tyrion is my favorite character and throughout the books you’ll see he gets better and better. If there is a true unsung hero in these tales it’s Tyrion. I recommend the books. They’ll really enhance the series.

      • Mike

        I assume you didn’t watch the last two movies of Lord of the Rings then? He died pretty early in that too.

      • Benlinus

        Maybe they can cast him in Malazan Book of the Fallen when ever they get the good sense to adapt that to the small screen.

      • B

        Yeah, I stopped watching Lord of the Rings after Sean Bean died, too. I mean literally the last 15 minutes of the first one and then skipped the next two movies altogether. Fortunately, in Goldeneye, he didn’t die until the end so I watched the whole thing. How can these stupid writers kill Sean Bean off? I mean it’s not like these shows were based on a book or something, is it? Is it??

      • B

        And if something happened to Sean Bean in real life, I don’t wanna live anymore.

      • Dez

        This series was great long before he was cast. Read the books. You’re totally screwing yourself over if you abandon this show.

      • Geoff Pike

        LOL! Ned Stark is dead, and now you don’t care about the show? With such a dynamic cast, and so much at stake in the show’s story, how could anyone not be interested? But if that is the case, then I suggest you whip out your Sean Bean library and watch his movies to get your fix.

      • CalifGina

        It is impossible to imagine the show without him, he was the core. But I certainly won’t stop watching. Have to wonder where it will go from here, how/who will fill the void? I like his kids, but they have years before they get that kind of presence. I would like to see the same child actors throughout, but I’m worried that in order to show the progression of time they will eventually be replaced by older actors!

      • harry

        Post like this one prove that people need to read more.

      • Einar

        Must have been boring waiting for those scared few Ned scenes here and there in every episode.

        Maybe HBO should do a spin-off called Ned’s Head?

      • Einar

        Err, that should be “sacred few Ned scenes” of course.

      • Edi dePencier

        You will miss a wonderful story then. It’s your BIG loss. Wonderful as Sean is, he is not the only reason to watch.

      • l irvine

        I agree Sean Bean was the only reason i started watching this series, didn’t read the books and now i simply have no reason to continue watching, the rest of the characters were just plain creepy,and aren’t worth wasting my time bothering with season2 , hell i’m not even going to watch the season finale.

      • ree

        Wow. I never would have thought that Sean Bean had such a loyal fan base. I mean, I like him and all, but, all of this outrage? Really?!?

      • Bleasie

        What Planet are you on
        The man is rubbish & always was don’t know how he gets any work

  • Emoney

    I give huge credit to Sean Bean and the creators of the show because even though I knew from day one what was coming, I still held out hope that somehow Ned’s fate would be different. Love the show, and thanks to Bean for being a wonderful Ned.

    • Chase

      Totally agreed. I knew Ned was going to die (because I read the book, though in the book it was a TOTAL shock), but I also had complete faith that if anyone could pull off the role it was Sean Bean. Simply put, he is AMAZING. They all did a wonderful job with the scene and overall a wonderful job so far this season.

  • MWeyer

    And to the complainers: IT’S IN THE BOOK. You can’t change his death as without it, the rest of the saga makes no sense.

    • bob

      often television shows differ from book series. See True Blood

      • Jimmy

        That’s not exactly the best example. True Blood is a great series but it could be so much better it followed the books more closely.

      • Super 7

        Who gives a SH*T about True Blood??!! What an idiotic comment. Yes, let’s make all TV shows follow True Blood! Brilliant!

      • bob

        No one said all shows should follow True Blood. That wasn’t the point. The point was that shows often differ from the source material. Therefore, hope that Ned would survive was not necessarily misplaced.

      • Mark

        True Blood stayed a helluva lot closer to the books than Dexter did, and I think both shows are better for their divergences. A Song of Ice and Fire is different though, Game of Thrones has to stick to it.

      • JD

        See the thing is that Game of Thrones and the following books are INCREDIBLE. They deserve to be followed closely. Ned being alive would throw off everything else. I love True Blood but it can’t touch this series.

      • Lala

        True Blood books suck.

      • zee

        so true and it’s easier for ppl who’ve read the books to accept coz we know that a hole s**t load of incredible stories is coming

      • cueball

        the True Blood equivalent would be if Sookie staked Bill partway through the first season. You can’t let Ned live, because too much of the series is about the consequences of that. It wouldn’t be a departure – it would be a totally different plot.

      • Alice

        True Blood deviates because Alan Ball wanted an ensemble show and Charlaine Harris only writes from Sookie’s perspective. Any character not involved in Sookie’s plotline isn’t nearly as well developed. So Alan Ball has to fill in, hence the additions and modifications to the source material. GOT doesn’t need to since the books provide POV for so many characters storys all at once.

      • Dez

        Some shows and films stupidly diverge from perfect print origins, others like Dexter take a great idea and just go in a slightly different, but equally awesome direction.

        Game of Thrones is one novel spread across 4, soon to be 5 books (so far). Every detail is stitched into the larger tapestry and changing one would cause the entirety of the piece to unravel. If you haven’t read the books, you wouldn’t know how many things would be changed by Ned Stark surviving King’s Landing. You people think you’re pissed off now. Just wait until the Red Wedding at the end of Season 3.

      • hooch

        @Alice : EXACTLY. The divergence in TB is necessary for good TV and IMO has made the story better from what it is in the books anyway. They COULD deviate from the books with GOT , but why, when the story is great as it is and clearly is working for TV.

    • harry

      Thank you!!!

  • steph

    ahh too short an interview! love the last line, though. haha.

  • Dumbledore Fluffernutter

    Wow! WTF- Shocked by this episode! You just don’t bump off the star of the show- right? Nobody is safe I guess. This was like Ben Cartwright taking an arrow through the chest.

    • Jimmy

      This is an important point to remember because if Ned’s death is upsetting then what comes later may be more than you can deal with. Death is part of this fantasy series.

  • Lori

    I too, was hoping for a different TV fate for Ned. I have read the books, and while I was watching this last episode I was thinking about TB’s Layfayette, who by all rights should have been dead and gone ages ago, according to the books by Charlaine Harris. I enjoyed Sean Bean’s portrayal of Lord Stark immensely, I wish he had been given a character with more longevity in the series. His last minute as Ned was both heart-breaking and beautifully done. Bravo, Sean Bean.

    • Marcus

      While I understand the hope, the rest of the story really falls apart if Ned would have survived. It’s a bit like removing the assassination of the Arch-Duke of Austria, it makes no sense. Proud of HBO for not going down that route.

      • Nell

        mm really?? Interesting… In that case.. I will -also- have the head of Ned Stark, please.

    • ks

      We still have three more books to come out-you never know

      • Sara

        Maybe Ned will come back as a zombie!!!

      • zee

        ha ha ha ha ha Sara u’re killing me

    • Hector

      I will miss Ned too, but without giving away specifics, to keep him alive would change the ENTIRE direction and drive of the story from this point on. It’d be like making a version of Star Wars where Luke decides to stay on Tatooine, or a version of Back to the Future where the DeLorean’s time circuits don’t work, or a version of Harry Potter where Harry never gets a letter from Hogwarts. The story they would be telling would no longer be the same story in any way.

      • Bravo

        Well put, Hector. It’s unbelievable how many people would like for the story to be altered to their wishes. The whole purpose was to fall in love with Lord Stark in the first place. Sean Bean is a superb actor. I’m sure the Starks will get their revenge in the end. I have never read the books. I believe I will wait until the entire series finishes first, then go to the books in order to see if the producers remained true to the story. With all of the interviews and snipets that I’ve seen from GRRM on HBO, I highly doubt it if he would have granted so much creative license as to change his story so dramatically. For some reason even though I love Rob, I’m anxious to see what a unification between Danaerys and Jon Snow would produce. Since it appears that she is the true Dragon, an alliance with her would seem to be indestructible against the Lannisters.

    • Lori

      Oh, I completely understood why Lord Stark HAD to die. It was only my enjoyment of Sean Bean’s performance that had me kinda hoping, even though I knew that in order for the series to keep on track. For future events to come, Eddard’s demise was the only option.

    • gb

      I could not agree more. I thought i was going to cry when the end credits rolled. I truly do hate to see him go but i think this show can only get better! I cant wait to see his family avenge his death!

    • hooch

      It’s totally different though. Ned’s death is KEY to the future plot of the series. Lafayette’s totally was not. It would be more like if TB had decided to keep Sookie’s grandmother alive because fan’s liked her character. It would have been harder to have a lot of the future stuff go down in the house if her grandmother still lived there.

  • Jen

    This show is turning out to be quite a disappointment. SO many main characters have been killed. This seems crazy to me. Not sure if I will continue watching or not.

    • Marcus

      I’d consider sticking around for round 2. The Lannisters might have won this one, but who knows who gets the second?

    • Super 7

      You are a coward, and not too bright.

      • bob

        Please explain how her opinion makes her a coward or stupid.

      • M

        Yeah, I dont really get the coward thing.

      • zee

        i do! and i think u two are as dumb as Marcus if u don’t get it

    • kate middleton

      It wouldn’t be much of a war without deaths, would it? I think it’s been brilliant.

    • Roderick

      She’s not a coward, but nor does she posses what it takes to embrace radically innovative art. She needs a traditional story that caters to the viewer, which keeps fan-favorites alive and rehashes well-mined conventions. Sorry, sweetheart; A Song of Ice and Fire has none of this. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

      • cc

        Oh please, get a load of yourself. “Radically innovative art”, my ass, why don’t you go play some obscure music and don lensless glasses. People are just surprised, that’s all, and justifiably upset. They may have been drawn to the series because of Sean Bean in the first place, and as everyone says, his character death radically changes things. People may sincerely lose interest because of it. STFU.

      • hooch

        @CC : Seriously.

    • Dany

      You mean, 3 main characters. Not “loads”. Viserys, Robert and Ned.

      Drogo’s fate is uncertain from the last episode.

      It’s not like those deaths are pointless either, there are repercussions to come.

      • Meg

        Oh right, Viserys. I keep seeing these comments about “so many characters have died” and I’m struggling to think who other than Ned and Robert they’re talking about. Viserys died so early on and was such a douche, I’m surprised anyone cares.

    • Lala

      Don’t stick around, read children’s books instead.

      • zee

        yey you!!!!!!!!!

      • Bravo

        Well put. People want the story the way THEY want it. How childish.

    • Jason

      @Dany. By killing off certain main characters, it creates space for new one. Viewers who have not read the books have no idea what is coming in Stannis, Melisandre, Tywin, Mance, Bran, etc etc etc. If they spent all their time on characters such as those “loads” that have been killed off, you would miss out on the much larger plot that non of the non-readers are aware of what they are in for. Please stick with it, it only gets better!

  • miztaz

    Sean Bean was amazing as Ned Stark, I’ve been a fan for a long time. It was his name that got me to watch in the first place, and his performance helped raise the level of quality of the series to the point that I won’t stop watching because his character has gone. A great series, or book, always leaves you asking “What happens next?” and that’s what will keep people watching. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    • wiseguy

      Coincidentally, Sean Bean was in the news recently for having been stabbed while defending the honor of his model companion. However, he survived to live another day unlike his Game of Thrones character.

  • Tim

    I am so pissed off! Sean Bean is the reason why I started watching this show! How can you take such a experienced and great actor and kill his character?!!! I wanted the story line to end with him being King. Sean Bean brought gave this series strength….what a stupid move!!!

    • Dan Koffler

      Because, regardless of Sean Bean’s ability as an actor, Ned Stark’s death is the end of the longest prologue in literary history and the story really doesn’t begin until after he is gone. Everything that has happened so far is the smallest taste of what’s coming, and it all hinges on Ned dying on the steps of Baelor’s. Is that a good enough reason?

      • BingBong

        Dan, you can’t reason with idiots like Tim there. Artistic integrity means nothing to them. They just gotta feel the warm and fuzzies from entertainment. He’s better off watching his regular vanilla pablum.

      • stella

        Oh, because he hasn’t read the books in advance and doesn’t yet understand the context of Ned’s death in the series, he’s a mindless idiot? Pat yourself on the back, why don’t you.

      • Bob

        It’s more because he said that he is watching this series because of sean bean. If people are watching this show because of a particular actor then they should indeed move on because I don’t think they’ll be able to handle what is coming really. this is a strong story to say the least, not a series to be seen casually.

    • Jude

      I know a lot of people are pissed at this, but to be honest when I read the books I was more shocked and impressed than pissed. Impressed that there was finally a writer out there that had the guts to portray what could REALISTICALLY happen to a hero, whether noble or not, who made really stupid decisions. You wanted the story to end with him being King??? If you’re expecting the good guys to beat the baddies, this isn’t the series for you. Real life doesn’t happen like that, and fantasy doesn’t always have to have a happy ending. That’s exactly what George R.R. Martin showed millions of fans when he wrote these books, and he is brilliant for doing so. What happens after Ned dies is way more interesting anyway…his death sets up conflicts for years after.

      • JD

        AGREED. The books are so brutal and realistic, they’re a breath of fresh air.

    • ket

      I have read the books and knew this was coming and yet, I continued reading the books and watched the series. I’m glad HBO stayed true to the narrative that GRRM put forth. These are not happy go luck books and the series shouldn’t have to pander to please an audience. True fans will stick with the series.

    • Lauren

      Tim, even if Ned had lived, he would never want to be king. He just wanted to go back to the North. He didn’t even want to be Hand of the King. Ned’s death is a pivotal moment in the series. It was necessary for him to die.

      • Bravo

        Agreed. I can’t help but be upset with Robert for dragging Ned over there. Even when Ned reigned, Robert wouldn’t allow it. Robert basically killed them both, himself and Ned. I loved Robert’s character, but both the king and Ned were too foolish to realize the inbred Lannister’s potential for evil. LOL… I forget that these aren’t real people. I think I’m too invested already, heehee.

      • Bravo

        ooops! I meant, even when Ned RESIGNED and handed the pin/position back to Robert. My bad.

    • Meg

      “How can you take such a experienced and great actor and kill his character?!!!”

      I know, right? What was Peter Jackson thinking killing off Boromir in the first movie!!?!

    • Aris Katsaris

      So you would prefer it if they had a worse actor portraying Ned Stark?

    • B

      Tim, because they flipped a coin to see whether he should live or die. Or they probably thought he was a boring character and finally got rid of him. Or maybe because they think the actor was a douchebag and didn’t deserve any screentime. Whatever reason, it absolutely can’t be because they’re following the story from a book, dumbass.

  • will

    This episode proved “there are no sacred cows”. Kudos to HBO for not copping out on the source material. The only problem is that this leaves the story without a central focus. Daenerys? Robb? Jon? Tyrion? Arya?

    • travi

      the song of ice and fire….jon of cours

      • Piper

        Jon and Dany?

      • Bravo

        I’m hoping for the Jon and Danaerys union!

      • Sara

        You are the only other person I’ve seen that has the same thoughts as I do. We are so smart! S-M_R-T! I mean, S-M-A-R-T!”

    • Hector

      The answer, my dear Will, is “all of the above.” It’s an ensemble piece.

    • Nix

      The reaction to Ned’s death in the show has given me the impression that the show hasn’t established that the main characters of the story are Dany, Jon, and Tyrion, the way the books have. And Arya, I should think

      • Olive

        I completely agree.

      • Martin

        Definitely true. I haven’t read the books and – even though I love the show – honestly I had to look up the names you just mentioned to be sure I had them associated with the correct characters.
        I think better proof for your (or against) your statement, can’t be found.

      • Meg

        But I think that, too, is in keeping with the books. I certainly thought Ned was the main character in the series when I read A Game of Thrones. I do think it’s fair to say he’s the main character in that book (until he dies).

      • Aris Katsaris

        Nonsense. The main character in the first book *was* Eddard Stark. And likewise the first season’s main character *was* Eddard Stark.

        That’s the frigging point, that the main character *died*.

      • B

        Or maybe it’s the fact that a lot of these idiots don’t pay attention.

  • casey

    eff this show. I’m not watching anymore.

    • Tom Stark

      You are a coward and pretty dumb.

      • M

        Again with the coward thing…I love the books and HBO’s portrayal as much as you, but that is just the most ridiculous insult ever!

      • JD

        Everyone’s a coward!! Haha i don’t get it, but I agree that not watching the show after this is pretty lame. Hopefully the viewership doesn’t drop too much…

  • DragonSlayer

    It’s in the books, it is not a stupid move, loved his character while it lasted. So for the people moaning about it, read the book.

    • bob

      So what happens if people read the book and still don’t like Ned dying? Are they allowed to have an opinion at that point or must they still follow yours?

      • kate middleton

        Well, I didn’t like Sirius, Dumbledore, Fred, Lupin or Tonks dying in Harry Potter. Doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book. People have to die in order for it to be a realistic battle/war (I’m looking at you, Twilight).

        I don’t get why people (not referring to you, Bob) complain about Ned dying. It’s not like it’s going to change anything.

      • bob

        I get that. It is what it is. For those that have read the book, they have had time to deal with the shock. Watching Ned die is a very new sensation for a lot of viewers. There is going to be some anger and disappointment.
        I say, let em have this moment to grieve for a fantastic character portrayed by a fantastic actor.

      • kate middleton

        Oh, I completely agree. I have not read the books (but I plan to) and I was SHOCKED by tonight’s show. My husband and I both sat here with our mouths agape for 5 minutes afterwards.
        But I can’t wait for next week!

  • Cody

    I knew he would die, I just didn’t realise it was in the first book, so I was taken by great suprise.

  • cristina

    r.i.p. ned i will miss you :{

  • ian

    After I saw a few episodes I was so interested that I ran out and bought the 1st book. Blazed through it in few days, and I’m now deep into the 2nd book. One of the best fantasy series I ever read. I should say that when I got to the execution in the 1st book I was dismayed. It was very effective. But the rest of the story (3 books worth) doesn’t make sense unless he is killed.

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