Sean Bean has played a number of masculine, weapon-wielding roles during the course of his acting career, from Sharpe to Goldeneye’s Alec Trevelyan, to Boromir in Lord of the Rings.
But in his most recent role Bean explores his feminine side, and is armed with a new deadly device: a pair of killer heels. I am, of course, referring to his starring role in Jimmy McGovern’s critically acclaimed legal drama, Accused.
When I first heard that Bean was set to play a transvestite, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (the idea of him in a skirt seemed somewhat farcical). But having now watched the drama, I can safely say it’s the most poignant thing I’ve seen on TV in a while.
In the drama, Bean effortlessly toggles between Simon, a shy, middle-aged schoolteacher, and Tracie, his ballsy blonde alter-ego. In fact, Bean plays both sides of the character so distinctively that, at times, you almost forget who you’re meant to be empathizing with- Simon or Tracie.
Inevitably you end up pitying both; Simon while he’s teaching literature to a class of uninterested pupils, and Tracie while she’s waiting nervously for her date to arrive. And of course what further compounds this sense of pity is knowing that both Simon and Tracie are part of the same person; a lonely individual whose life is broken into two vulnerable halves.
The drama toys with the idea of identity, explores the pressure of societal expectations, and highlights the dire consequences of repression. It’s dark, and at times depressing, but there are also moments of brilliant humour – and Bean shines throughout. If you haven’t already, make sure you watch it, if only to see the full extent of Sean Bean’s acting abilities.