Sean Bean opens up about playing 'power hungry' and 'corrupt' Thomas Cromwell in Disney+'s Shardlake

Virgin Radio

1 May 2024, 08:53

Sean Bean smiling and as Thomas Cromwell in Shardlake

Credit: Disney+/Rex

Sean Bean has revealed all about his “power hungry,” “mischievous,” and “corrupt” latest character.

The Lord of the Rings actor plays real-life historical figure Thomas Cromwell in Disney+’s adaptation of CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series, alongside his co-stars Arthur Hughes and Anthony Boyle.

In Shardlake, 16th century lawyer Matthew Shardlake (Hughes)’s sheltered life is turned upside-down after he is sent by Cromwell (Bean) to investigate the death of a commissioner at a remote English monastery.

Speaking with at a press event ahead of the release of Shardlake today (1st May), Bean described his character in detail. “With Cromwell, he’s hungry for power,” the Game of Thrones actor shared. “He comes from a very kind of basic working class background, so his rise to power is phenomenal.

“He’s out to get what he believes in,” he continued. “He’s outraged by the excesses of the Catholic Church. He’s very loyal to Henry VIII and facilitates his marriage with Anne Boleyn and the split with Rome.

“[Cromwell is] mischievous, he’s corrupt, he’s very driven and has great self-belief,” the actor finished. During his interview, Bean also opened up about how he avoids feeling any pressure when taking roles based on well-known historical figures or fictional characters.

In the show, Cromwell’s presence looms over Shardlake and his side-kick Jack Barak (Boyle) even while the pair are investigating a murder miles and miles away from him in London. Describing the Shardlake series as a whole, lead star Arthur Hughes teased: “It’s like a Tudor cop show. A murder mystery detective story, set in a monastry.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Boyle teased how his character Jack Barak and Shardlake form “an unlikely bond and an unlikely friendship” following an initially at-odds meeting under the jurisdiction of Bean’s Cromwell.

Shardlake is available to watch now on Disney+.