I had a full body wax, the high heels, short skirts, bras – everything – it was proper full-on," he says in his deep Sheffield accent."I became totally absorbed: it was wonderful being involved in it, I just didn't want to leave it, the character. It's a brilliant script: very moving, very dark humour." It's a far cry from the tough-guy films that are his stock in trade.And at (an albeit youthful) 52, he may feel like he's done his fair share of shooting."At five or six in the morning, you think, 'Hell, I've just got out of bed, I don't want to jump around like that'.
"I got pretty good at it, walking on cobblestones and all sorts.
Like all things with film – the cold, the bad times, the exhaustion – you just forget," he says. He's currently single, and "just seeing how it goes", while gardening and cycling around Belsize Park: it doesn't sound like tough-guy behaviour, even when he adds that he occasionally rides on the pavement or the wrong way down a one-way street.
Before our interview, I was told that I cannot ask Bean any personal questions. He spends a lot of time with his three daughters; Lorna, 24, and Molly, 20, daughters of Bean's second wife Melanie Hill, and Evie, 14, from his marriage to Abigail Cruttenden.
He fiercely safeguards his private life, which involves four marriages and four divorces. And while it may be within "personal question territory", Bean cannot hide his pride.
The last of these, to Georgina Sutcliffe, ended after the police had been called out to their home on three occasions over domestic disputes. "Lorna is training to be a teacher, so hopefully she might be working professionally in September," he says. She was quite rebellious when she was younger, and has turned into this person who wants to learn and teach and impart her learning to other people.