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Lord of the Rings: Sean Bean on why Boromir is his favorite onscreen death

Sean Bean has been beheaded, pulled apart by horses, crushed by a flaming satellite dish, and skewered with an anchor, but there’s one onscreen death that stands above all.

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A version of this story originally appears in Entertainment Weekly’s Untold Stories issue, available to buy right here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Sean Bean has been beheaded, pulled apart by horses, crushed by a flaming satellite dish, and skewered with an anchor, but there’s one onscreen death that stands above all.

As Boromir in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Bean takes three arrows to the chest while defending the Hobbits from brutal Uruk-hai. “It’s my favorite death scene, and I’ve done a few,” he says, laughing. “You couldn’t ask for a more heroic death.”

Director Peter Jackson considered using CG arrows, but he ultimately opted for the old-fashioned approach: sticking arrows into a metal breastplate under Bean’s clothes. As soon as Jackson called “Action!” Bean would mime getting shot.

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For that final moment with Aragorn, he and Viggo Mortensen met with Jackson and co-screenwriter Fran Walsh the night before shooting. Over beers and a bottle of wine, they came up with Boromir’s dying words: “My brother, my captain, my king.”

As for his actual dying breath? Bean has a few guidelines for how to make a death scene believable.

“You can’t show off,” he explains. “You can’t be vain or posing…. Because every time you die, it’s a big f—ing moment!” Take it from the expert.