The 62-year-old is currently astonishing audiences after his performance in the gritty BBC One drama Time, which starred Bean opposite Stephen Graham. Critics and viewers alike have memorized the story, which is set in a prison and follows the realities of a life behind bars. Bean remains one of the country’s most beloved actors and is adored by generations of viewers – thanks to his appearances in films such as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and TV hits Game of Thrones and Sharpe.
But his turn as the villain Alec Trevelyan in the James Bond film GoldenEye remains one of his most iconic performances.
Originally, according to reports, Bean was considered 007 both in 1987 and 1995, but the role eventually went to Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan respectively.
Though he missed it, the producers were so impressed with the Yorkshireman that they chose to cast him in Brosnan’s debut as Bond, GoldenEye.
With an understanding of what exactly it takes to be the man behind the tuxedo, Bean understands the type of actor and credentials needed to fill one of cinema’s most iconic roles.
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Sean Bean in BBC One’s Time
And with Craig moving away from the Bond character, the debate has been heated over who exactly will be asking for Q’s shaken Martinis and gadgets.
For Bean, however, he believes his Game of Thrones co-star Richard Madden should be Craig’s replacement, as he “has everything to play the part”.
Speaking to Digital Spy two years ago, Bean said, “He’s strong, he’s masculine and he also has a soft underbelly.
“He’s vulnerable. And he looks good, and Scottish en [laughs]. I always felt that he was a very good actor.
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Daniel Craig in the original James Bond poster
“He was there a lot. You could tell he had a lot of things for him. But they were all very, very good.”
Madden became a household name thanks to his Golden Globe-winning lead role in BBC thriller Bodyguard.
The 34-year-old himself also addressed claims he could take a turn for the worse as Bond, but was hesitant to put his name in the ring in 2018.
He said: “I’m more than flattered to be mentioned that people are considering putting me in that role. I’m very flattered and grateful. It’s really great to be in.”
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Richard Madden has been touted as a potential James Bond
Others to be linked to the role include Idris Elba, Tom Hardy and Tom Hiddleston, and the likely sequel will be revealed shortly after Craig’s latest Bond film No Time to Die is released this year.
Bean has been incredibly candid about Bond in the past and also lamented Craig critics, who were originally against his casting in the franchise.
When Craig was announced as the new Bond in 2005, critics were outraged that a blond-haired man had been given the part, with the secret agent known for his signature jet black hair.
Websites such as blondnotbond.com and danielcraigisnotbond.com were set up to attack the producers’ decision, with even national newspapers describing the choice as “bland.”
Sean Bean in GoldenEye
However, Bean told Digital Spy in 2012, “I think Craig is brilliant as Bond. I remember at the beginning they all said, ‘It won’t work,’ and I thought you, ‘You’re watching’ – and he did because he’s a good actor.”
Bean was then asked about the reaction Craig received prior to the role, and he replied, “I think it’s pathetic. You don’t even know what he’s like.
“I had worked with him so I know what he is like and I know he is good so I was especially happy when he [the role].”
Craig himself spoke of the impact it had on him, telling GQ in 2020: “I remember saying to my mom, ‘Can I play James Bond?’
“And she said, ‘Of course you can. But I’m your mother.’”
Time airs on BBC One tonight from 9pm.
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