Sean Bean Talks About Derailing ‘Snowpiercer’

Was there any aspect of Donald Trump that affected your portrayal of Wilford?

He’s an easy target. [Laughs.] If I’m honest, I used to enjoy watching Donald Trump. I found him highly entertaining and rather funny. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t like much of his policies, or what he believed in. But he talked like a regular guy, and that kind of brought you in. He also could just dismiss someone very quickly and start laughing about it. I couldn’t help but notice that and apply a little of that attitude in Wilford.

Trump liked to use the rhetoric and the platitudes that a lot of American presidents use, including Joe Biden: “We’re all in this fight together” or “Loyalty is rewarded.” It sounds a little more sinister coming from Wilford, but it’s the same kind of message — it sounds grand, but it doesn’t actually mean anything. Wilford’s a good orator. He likes the sound of his own voice, and he likes dressing up to address an audience. That’s why he’s successful — he’s attractive, charming and witty. But that just masks the savagery, barbarism and cruelty.

But there are other monsters out there, present-day and past, who are more fitting comparisons for Wilford. I don’t think Bill Gates is a particularly attractive character — he’s certainly a man who relishes control, and I’m a bit wary of that kind of guy. Jeff Bezos, various others, they’ve got so many billions, but they’re still trying to get more. It’s not even the money. They really want to be influential in the world and put forward their ideas. They want to continue trying to get to the top, whatever the top may be. That’s Wilford. He just wants to be top dog and have ultimate power over life and death.

Wilford is not exactly anti-science, but he seems only interested in certain kinds of science.

He’s like Dr. Frankenstein, with the capability of creating monsters. He spent a lot of time researching how to suffer extreme cold conditions, and that’s been demonstrated with Icy Bob (Andre Tricoteux) and now Josie (Katie McGuinness). He’s just experimenting. That’s another aspect of Wilford, meddling with people’s lives, treating them like animals. That’s where he spends a lot of his time, pursuing things that wouldn’t be allowed in normal society.

Like his bath ritual, joining people in the tub and convincing them to slit their own wrists?

It’s like a game. Kevin (Tom Lipinski) is lulled into a trance-like state, because he thinks so much of Wilford. He loves him. And Wilford convinces Kevin: “Get in the bath, sit in the bath. And I’ll talk about what you did and how it was wrong. Here’s a razor blade!” [Laughs.] It’s kind of his mantra: “Here’s a way to make it go away. You don’t have to worry. Everything’s fine.”

He did that with Miss Audrey (Lena Hall), too. He doesn’t care about people. He does care about Miss Audrey, in that he has a fanciful, romantic vision of her, kind of twisted and lustful. But apart from that, humans are just like ants to him.

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