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Sean Bean on keeping up with 'Game of Thrones'

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Nick Briggs/HBO

Four years after his noble character Ned Stark lost his head, Sean Bean tells EW what it’s like to watch Game of Thrones from the sidelines.

KEEPING UP WITH THE STARKS

SEAN BEAN: “I do watch, although I’ve not managed to catch much because of work. It’s quite interesting to see the kids growing up, like Maisie [Williams] and Sophie [Turner] and the family that I once had. They’ve grown from kids into women. So I don’t really catch all of it, but when I do get to watch, I do think it’s fascinating to see who’s left. Cersei, she’s still around, isn’t she?”

VIEWER DISCRETION

“I know what’s behind the scenes, but I don’t really want to think about that. I suppose I like to try and believe that it’s all actually happening and suspend my disbelief, as it were, to be taken on this scary ride. I want to see what happens like everyone else. I didn’t read the books, so it was all new when I first started, and I’ve not read the books since I got my head chopped off!”

ACCIDENTALLY REVISITING THE SET

“I’m working in Belfast at the moment on The Frankenstein Chronicles, and we were actually filming next to the old Game of Thrones set where we first did the pilot. I went over and had a look through the gates at the old set, and that was a weird experience for me. It’s strange coming back to Northern Ireland, but it feels like a home away from home. Looking back on it, they were really good times.”

NED’S BEHEADING

“I remember walking around spooking people with my prosthetic head, holding it by its hair. That was a vivid memory. Obviously I knew from day one that I wasn’t going to make it to season 2, but it got quite a flattering reception. I was pleased people were saddened to see the death of me. I guess that set the benchmark that if you kill off the lead guy, anyone can get killed off. And they have been and they continue to be killed off! It’s actually quite refreshing.”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEAN

“I often think of what would have happened to Ned, what would he have become, how would his family have reacted to him. But of course that wasn’t the case. He was a good man in this moral maze, and if I’m being honest, he couldn’t really survive anyway because he was just too good and too trusting.”

NED’S ADVICE TO HIS STARK KIDS

“He’d probably have said, ‘Just stay at home in the castle, with your mum.'” [Laughs]

A RETURN FOR SEASON 5?

“No, I didn’t get [a call]. Maybe season 6!”

A version of this article appears in the March 20/27, 2015 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

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