Famous television and film actor Sean Bean suffered a head injury recently while sailing his ship, The Horn of Gondor, in the English Channel. Coast guards and physicians speculate that Bean lost control of the craft in Beaufort 11 winds near the White Cliffs of Dover when the boat’s boom met his temple. Bean likely lost consciousness, fell to the deck and rolled through the railings into the sea. He miraculously washed ashore the next morning. There he woke, and upon arriving at the docks of Port Dover itself, behaved, as one witness says, “like Jason Bourne.”
Suffering a terrible episode of amnesia, Bean grabbed the nearest person to him by the arm and spoke incessantly of flashing memories he could neither expunge nor comprehend. He recalled spy agencies; nuclear conspiracies; suited men pursuing him; hikes through a snowy Middle-earth; the death of an old man named Gandalf; sword duels in a land called Westeros; a Golden Eye; and a handsome enemy whose name escaped him, but whom he vaguely associated with the numbers 007.
Soon after, Bean drunkenly rambled to customers in a tavern about his visions.
“Mostly we played pool and thought, ‘What a wanker,’ ” says Arthur Donovan, a local fisherman. “We assumed he was putting on some sort of celebrity gag. A hoax. A stunt. The British version of Punk’d.” But when Bean politely and reflexively bought pints for half a dozen men with a thick wad of cash he was surprised to find in his pocket, the pub’s customers began to suspect Bean’s behaviour was no act.
“My blokes and I are looking at this guy holding all these bills. He’s not being, like, a showboat or anything. He was just staring at this cash. Like a kid would a bit of treasure or something. Like he didn’t know he had a lot of money and was a movie star. Like he didn’t know he was Sean fucking Bean.”
The actor went on to tell the men about his traumatic flashbacks. Bean’s visions were apparently violent in nature. “He told us he couldn’t explain it, but he was sure, positive — like 100 per cent — that he had died before.” And not just once. Numerous times. As he became increasingly inebriated, Bean told the pool players how he had once been beheaded in a public square; shot thrice with an arrow from a Uruk-hai (what was a Uruk-hai? He didn’t know); bowled over a cliff by a herd of livestock; dropped from terrible heights by someone who held him by his shoe; and drawn until his limbs were ripped from him. He added that he had been gored, impaled, strangled, hanged, exploded, drowned and shot with pistols, shotguns — virtually anything that fired a shell or bullet.
“We bought him the next pint,” Donovan says. “He was obviously pretty shaken up and coming to terms with all this.”
As Bean continued to imbibe, he became less glum about his fractured past. He reached, according to all reports, an epiphany.
“He started yelling about how it all made sense,” Donovan says. “He shouted over the stools at the bartender that he understood everything now. That what he was seeing — his visions, his flashbacks, whatever they were — they were memories.” Memories of past lives Bean believed he had lived. Bean spoke at length about the cycle of Samsara and his many reincarnations and how fortunate he was to have knowledge of his past lives.
“I tried to tell him while we was playing pool. I shouted at him, ‘Sean, Sean. Listen to me, you wanker. Ease up. You’re just an actor. You’re a bloody movie star. And you die. A lot.’ ”
Bean responded with a grin and a tight embrace. Before leaving the tavern and heading out into the rain to later be recovered by an ambulance, the actor left his friends with these last words: “Who are you? Who is anyone? Who am I? In past lives I grappled James Bond. Died for justice in Westeros. Sacrificed myself to save the little hobbits. And who am I now? I am Sean Bean. This much I know.”