It’s one of the most memorable scenes on HBO’s Game of Thrones: Ned Stark is executed by Ser Ilyn Payne for the crime of being too honorable (and also kind of a dummy). Sean Bean, the actor who played Robb, Jon (kind of), Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon’s papa, has previously revealed what Ned’s final words were before losing his head, and in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, he discussed what was going through his mind while shooting the iconic scene.
“It was horror and disbelief — that Joffrey changed his mind [about exiling Ned] — and then resignation and [realizing that he was] seeing his daughter for the last time, Arya,” he said. “I was trying to think of all four [things]. It wasn’t just, ‘Oh God, I’m getting my head chopped off.’ Those mix of feelings is what made it what it was, I suppose.” Bean explained that the beheading scene took a whole day to film, “so you have to just keep focused on the fact that you’re about to meet your death without messing around. I was very hot at the time, so that probably helped. And everybody else’s reactions were fantastic — Cersei and the kids. It was very moving with a lot of pathos in that scene. Then I put my head in the block and I was finished for the day.” And for the series.
Bean has been in a lot of fine television shows and movies, including The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Wolfwalkers, which you should absolutely watch. But his defining role is on a series that he only appeared in nine episodes of. Even Jason Momoa made it longer. That must be weird for Bean, but at least he’s used to it.