1 FATE SAID SO
It's almost like Sean Bean was destined to play Sharpe. As if a higher power, or the pattern of planets and stars in the sky, wanted it to happen. Or maybe it was just a sheer fluke. Either way, it came as a complete surprise to Sean to get the role because it had originally gone to a certain Mr Paul McGann. In fact, McGann had actually started filming his first scenes as Sharpe, and all was going swimmingly until he suffered a dreadful leg injury while playing football on location in Ukraine. Before he knew it, poor Paul was being flown back to get medical treatment in Blighty, and Sean Bean was sent in to fill his shoes (and his uniform). So you see, fate WANTED it to be Bean.
2 HE'S AS RUGGED AS THEY COME
Anyone who remembers just how big a hit Sharpe was in the 1990s will also remember that Sean Bean became one of the nation's major heartthrobs. Yet the significant thing about Bean - and the thing that sets him apart from other comparable telly hunks from Colin Firth right through to Aidan Turner - is how rugged he was, even in his fresh-faced Sharpe heyday. Of course, "rugged" is a word thrown around to describe anyone with a bit of stubble, but Sean Bean in Sharpe is the real thing. His handsomeness is fierce, almost brutal. If he wasn't the hero, he could easily have played a villain. And that's exactly how Sharpe needs to look. A peachy pretty boy could never have cut it.
3 HE'S NORTHERN
Now, this a bit of a controversial issue among Sharpe purists. Richard Sharpe, as conceived by Bernard Cornwell in the original novel, is a Londoner. So is it really "accurate" to have someone with a Northern accent playing him on the screen? Maybe not, but it doesn't matter. Sean Bean makes it unthinkable to imagine Sharpe NOT being Northern - the accent just adds to his uncompromising, swaggering appeal. (Plus, the book Sharpe has dark brown hair, and Bean is blond. And we don't mind that either.)
4 HE SWEARS REALLY WELL
We're not saying it's big or clever to swear, but we can't imagine a Sharpe who doesn't cuss in anger. And Sean cusses in anger like nobody else. Particularly the word that word that starts with a "b" and is common vulgar slang term for "illegitimate child". (This is where the Northern accent thing comes in handy again.)
5 HE'S AN ACTION MAN
Remember when Daniel Craig took over as 007 and it was refreshing to finally see a James Bond who actually looked like he could handle himself in a fight? Well that's a large part of Sean Bean's appeal in Sharpe. He doesn't look like some pretentious actor awkwardly trying to play a soldier. His manner, the way he talks, the way he carries himself with the rest of the "Chosen Men" - it all makes us truly believe that he's a veteran of brutal skirmishes. And when it comes to the combat scenes, Sean Bean proves his worth as a natural born action hero.
6 HE LOOKS WONDERFUL IN UNIFORM
Could this be the most important point of all? Come on, the very sight of Sean Bean in that permanently dusty, battle-worn uniform is enough to make anyone realise that nobody else (sorry Paul McGann!) could play the one and only Richard Sharpe.