It’s been a really long time since we last saw Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark on Game of Thrones. I mean, the very foundation of this epic series began with him. Most of the people (non-book readers) believed that Ned was ultimately going to be the protagonist of the story – all characters, and major plot points revolving until the ninth episode of the Season 1 proved us otherwise. Yet much like Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark – who’ve been dead for a long time – Ned too had a propelling role in the series. The biggest example being his execution that led to the War of Five Kings that eventually leads us to the current events in the series. But, what does the actor who played the role think?
Well, Sean Bean – the actor who had played the role of Ned recently talked to Entertainment Weekly reflecting on his time on Game of Thrones, his role in the unaired pilot, and more. Let’s dive into it.
Ned Stark – being one of the good characters in the series was an honourable man, a great friend, and a true sibling to his sister Lyanna. I can imagine, how important it was for him to keep the lineage of Jon Snow a secret- he kept from everyone including his wife Catelyn. He was even ready to trade his honour for it as it could have been torn the Seven Kingdoms apart. The secret could have died with him unless not discovered by Bran and Sam. When asked if “anyone from the show gave him a courtesy call to reveal the truth about Jon Snow’s parents”, Sean revealed:
“Like with everything with Game of Thrones, it was kept very dark and secret. I think that’s the kind of magic and the glory of Game of Thrones… that’s why it’s so stunning and breathtaking when these secrets are revealed.”
Dan Weiss and David Benioff did a fantastic job not only adapting the pages from a book into a TV series but with the casting of the series too! But did they tell Sean about his character in advance?
“Yeah, we met for lunch in Soho, six or seven years ago now, before we started the pilot. We had a really good chat, and I was very thrilled to be asked to play the role. I think it was only myself and Peter cast at the time. I was very thrilled about the whole idea. I didn’t actually know at that time how enormous and massive this series would become. I was just getting my head around the part, as we all were. None of us really could’ve imagined it would be such a big-scale, tantalizing drama. Yeah, that was the beginning of the story for me. And, of course, I knew I wasn’t going to last very long. I accepted that.”
When asked if the showrunners told him about the secret of Jon Snow’s parentage during that meeting, Sean replied:
“Not really. They said that some things happened, there were quite dramatic twists and turns. They let me know what they were within the first [season]. It was enough just keeping up with these intricate and complex storylines, with all the families and different worlds. Any more information would’ve probably been overload. As you can see, the death and how it’s developed, I think there’s only so much you can take at once. They only reveal what they want you to know, and that’s good, I think. That’s what makes it so exciting to find out.”
Ned Stark is one of the characters in the story besides Jon Snow who resonates really well with other characters in the story although his son (nephew-in-disguise) seems a bit too brooding at times. On this, Sean Bean suggests:
“He’s very honourable, he’s very honest, he’s a man of integrity, and he does the dirty work, as he does at the beginning when he chops off the guy’s head. But he’s a man who’s very fair-minded, and he’ll stick to his principles through thick and thin, regardless of who he’s up against. With him going to King’s Landing and getting involved with such backstabbers, it’s something he wasn’t used to, and certainly not at that level. I think it was quite tragic to see him chipped away by these people until he was really struggling, and he was in very deep.”
The original – unaired pilot episode of Game of Thrones had a lot of Game of Thrones had a lot of differences especially some cast members were replaced like Tamzin Merchant with Emilia Clarke for Daenerys Targaryen. When asked about those differences, Sean revealed:
“I remember a scene with Bran in the old tree and [his parents are] talking to him about life. He was very young at the time when Isaac was playing the part. There are some nice scenes with [Williams as Arya]. I quite enjoyed those scenes because there was a lot of horrible backstabbing going on, and I think those scenes stood out because they were very natural and people could identity with them: a father and his children. I also remember the banquet, which was quite interesting. We shot it in Scotland, and it was a banquet with King Robert. All the families were coming together, there was a real feeling of this horrible tension, which represents what we did afterwards.”
Lastly, talking about his last day of filming and what he remembered about him playing the role for the last time, Sean ended by saying:
“I remember filming that day. The death, that was wonderful because it was so unexpected. I thought it was amazing how they shot it. But I died, and then I had to do some scenes from earlier in the episode, so it wasn’t the end for me. We were in Malta; it was very hot. It was very colourful. Everyone was there, and with things like that, there’s a sort of gallows humour to it. It’s awful what’s happening, and you start giggling and laughing. When the head fell off, there were mistakes. It didn’t quite work out sometimes. It was quite comical. So it breaks the ice a bit.”
What were your thoughts on this interview of Sean Bean and did his character in the story deserve true justice in the series? Tell us in the comments.