Most moviegoers recognize Sean Bean as the noble Boromir from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Others know him as the dashing soldier Sharpe, from a popular British TV series. But it was his turn as an Irish terrorist opposite Harrison Ford in Patriot Games that made him a name in Hollywood. Furthermore, it was on Patriot Games where Bean picked up a permanent memento of his experience, one that he would use to his advantage in later roles.
The climatic scene of Patriot Games has Ford and Bean tussling on a runaway speedboat. Bean’s baddie ultimately meets his fate thanks to a well-placed anchor, allowing Jack Ryan to escape with his family. It was during the filming of this scene that Bean gained the distinctive scar over his left eye — Ford hit him with a boat hook, an accident that led to several stitches. For a pretty-boy actor like, say, Jude Law, such an act could diminish box office appeal. But Bean’s injury only added to his rugged persona. And helped him land his role in Sharpe’s Rifles.
Fresh off Patriot Games, Bean was re-approached by the producers of the British series. Ironically, a defining characteristic of author Bernard Cornwell’s Napoleonic War hero is a scar on his left cheek. Bean’s run-in with a boat hook proved fortuitous — his actual scar could be enhanced for Sharpe’s. Bean’s scar also lent a rugged, world-weariness to his Boromir and his Trojan War veteran, Odysseus, in Troy.
To date, Bean has starred in fifteen Sharpe films, with a new installment, Sharpe’s Peril, forthcoming. While Bean may still have played Sharpe had he survived Patriot Games unscathed, Harrison Ford’s clumsiness certainly made things easier on the makeup crew.