Friday, March 20, 2009

The Villain as Suitor

The second time I saw Sean Bean was on American Public Television (PBS) as Mr. Lovelace, in the BBC production of Samuel Richardson’s novel, Clarissa. For Richardson and his contemporaries, Robert Lovelace was the consummate rogue and rake, scheming to steal the virtue of the beautiful but pious Clarissa Harlowe. But for Sean Bean, Lovelace was the perfect character to flex his acting muscles. Handsome and cruel, his character grows before us into a soul tortured by love. Sean plays Lovelace as a man trapped in his own myth. So how does he manipulate our sympathies so that we turn away from the innocent but cold Clarissa (Saskia Wickam), and towards the flawed but repentant Lovelace Sean has created?

A few years later I saw Sean playing another evil, handsome and rich character in the American mini-series Scarlett. As a sequel to “Gone with the Wind”, the series was difficult for me to warm to, but Sean as the charming yet sadistic Lord Fenton is perfection. Sean makes you believe this man can easily go from courting Scarlett O’Hara, to killing revolutionary priests, while never soiling his immaculate clothes. But you have to be a clever viewer, for I agree that the shades of emotion are conveyed by Sean in the flicker of an eye, or a smile that morphs into a snarl. Even mediocre writing can’t stop Sean Bean from creating an unforgettable character.

So imagine my excitement that in Ca$h! he will be playing not one, but two characters. I am really very intrigued by the physical transformation between Pyke and Reese. It will be interesting to see how this physical transformation liberates Sean the actor.


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