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Sean Bean

It’s the garden where my heart lies

Sean Bean as Mellors in the BBC’s 1993 adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Sean Bean is known for playing tough guys, but in real life his heart lies with gardening. “I grew up in Sheffield in the 1960s and 1970s,” the Game of Thrones star tells the Financial Times. “It was a big industrial city, but it also had a lot of trees, countryside and wildlife.” As a teenager he would escape to the forest to make dens, plant vegetables and go birdwatching. I loved it, he says, but I was much too embarrassed to admit that.

Now, at 61, Bean is more at ease with his green fingers. He lives in Somerset with his fifth wife, actress Ashley Moore, and three daughters. The house has a two-acre garden where Bean spends most of his time. I treat it like a job, he says, boasting about his “gardening uniform” of overalls and a camouflage T-shirt. “I’ve also got a few pairs of boxer shorts with nice little pictures of tools on them – hammers and chisels – so that puts me in the mood and I think, right, I’ve got work to do.”

It’s an idyllic life, and the exact opposite of his screen personas. Bean is notorious for playing characters who die – often in brutal circumstances. As it stands, he has been killed off a staggering 25 times. “I think everyone expects me to die at some point,” he told The Irish Times. “That’s what I do.” In his most recent film, Possessor, Bean begged the director to keep his character alive. “I asked them, ‘Why don’t you just badly injure me instead? You can put me in a wheelchair.’ They said okay. So by the end of the film I’ve got brain damage, but at least I’m alive.”