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How Game Of Thrones' Sean Bean Used His Own LA Culture Shock As Inspiration For Ned Stark

On Season 1 of "Game of Thrones," Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and his family travel from their home of Winterfell in the North to King's Landing in the South to meet with the family of the King and Queen, Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), and to betroth Ned's daughter Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to Cersei's evil child, Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), who is also heir (sort of) to the Iron Throne. The House Stark backstory indicates that the Starks have been in the North for a long time.

There are several differences between Winterfell and King's Landing, which causes Ned Stark and his family to experience some culture shock once they arrive. For example, whereas it sometimes snows in Winterfell even when it's not winter, the climate is warmer in King's Landing and is not meant for the wolves the Starks keep as pets. Furthermore, although the Northern Starks are certainly no strangers to death and violence (considering they live so close to the Wall, the wildlings, and the White Walkers), they are not used to seeing people delight in ornate displays of violence, lust, and greed like the Lannisters, Baratheons, and other Southerners they encounter. 

In order to create the feeling of culture shock in Ned Stark's character, it turns out Sean Bean actually drew on his own personal experience with culture shock when he came to Los Angeles to film "Game of Thrones." 

Sean Bean sees parallels between his dislike of LA and Ned Stark's dislike of King's Landing

In an interview with Vulture, Sean Bean explained how his own experience with culture shock when he came to Los Angeles helped him understand how Ned Stark would feel going to King's Landing. Sean Bean is from Sheffield, England, a smaller city than L.A. full of "steel factories and coal mines." Although he had already experienced culture shock before when he went to London for school and work, Bean expressed that the L.A. culture shock was more intense.

Bean said, "There's a lot of two-faced people and very shallow people in L.A. I'm not particularly fond of the place, but it's been good to me in the sense that I've been offered work there and I've enjoyed it. But it's certainly not somewhere I would feel comfortable living for any long period of time. You have to take everyone with a pinch of salt because everyone's in it. They're all very ambitious people, that's why they go there, and I understand that. But at first, I didn't understand that, and I couldn't understand why people promised things and then they broke their word."

This is certainly similar to Ned Stark's experience of King's Landing. Although Ned has business in King's Landing and is initially happy to travel there for that purpose, things don't exactly go as planned. The people Ned meets in King's Landing lie, cheat, steal, murder, rape, and torture. They commit these actions mostly out of ambition, either because they are trying to win the Iron Throne or at least advance their station in a cutthroat world. Furthermore, nobody can be trusted because many have secret motives. Luckily, Bean at least was not decapitated in L.A. like Ned Stark.