Rufus Sewell
Rufus Frederik Sewell
Twickenham, England
Birth date
29 October 1967 (1967-10-29) (age 53)
Active Years

Rufus Frederik Sewell (Template:IPAc-en; born 29 October 1967) is an English actor. In film, he has appeared in Kenneth Branagh's rendition of Hamlet (1996) playing Fortinbras, The Woodlanders, Dangerous Beauty, Dark City, A Knight's Tale, The Illusionist, Tristan and Isolde, and Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence. On television, he starred as an Italian detective in the BBC's television series Zen (2011) and also appeared in the mini-series The Pillars of the Earth (2010). In 1993 he played the hero, Will Ladislaw, in the BBC's adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch. In 2003, he appeared in the lead role in Charles II: The Power and The Passion. He starred in the CBS drama Eleventh Hour which was cancelled in April 2009.[1] On stage, he originated the role of Septimus Hodge in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and the role of Jan in Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll; the latter earned him an Olivier Award and a Tony Award nomination.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Sewell was born in Twickenham in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London, the son of William, an Australian animator, and Jo Sewell, a Welsh artist and waitress.[2][3] His father worked on the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segment of animation for The Beatles' Yellow Submarine film. His parents divorced when Sewell was five, and his mother worked to support her two sons. His father died when Sewell was 10. Sewell has said that he was a difficult teenager.[4]

Sewell was educated at Orleans Park School, a state comprehensive school in Twickenham, which he left in 1984, followed by West Thames College, where a drama teacher sent him to audition for drama school. He later enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.(citation needed)

Career[edit | edit source]

After graduating, Sewell was set up with an agent by Judi Dench who had directed him in a play while at the Central School of Speech and Drama. His breakthrough year was in 1993, in which he starred as the nasty Tim in Michael Winner's film Dirty Weekend. Winner chose him after seeing him in a play at the Criterion Theatre.[5] Also in 1993 Sewell starred in the BBC serial of George Eliot's Middlemarch and on stage in Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia at The Royal National Theatre (Lyttelton). His film work includes 1995's Cold Comfort Farm, directed by John Schlesinger, the lead role of John Murdoch in the science fiction film Dark City in 1998, Amazing Grace, The Illusionist and Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy The Holiday. Amazing Grace deals with William Wilberforce's political fight to abolish slavery in Britain, with Sewell playing Wilberforce's co-campaigner Thomas Clarkson. Sewell is known for his villainous roles, such as those in A Knight's Tale, The Legend of Zorro, Bless the Child, Helen of Troy and The Illusionist. He spoke of his unhappiness about this, saying that "[I] don't want to play a baddie again."[6] "Everyone has their thing they have to get around",[7] notes Sewell. "With me, it's like okay, how can I make this upper class bad guy in the 19th century different and interesting?"

In 2008, Sewell appeared in the HBO miniseries John Adams as Alexander Hamilton. He received critical praise for his portrayal of "merry monarch" Charles II in the BBC's Charles II: The Power and The Passion. The series' cast included Ian McDiarmid, Helen McCrory, Rupert Graves and Shirley Henderson and spanned the life of the king from his last days in exile to his death. He co-starred in the controversial film Downloading Nancy, which was released on 5 June 2009. At the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, audiences walked out of the screening, and as of summer 2008, any theatrical release was still uncertain. Despite the controversy, Sewell continues to staunchly support the film. "It's a film I'm very proud of, whether you consider that it fails or succeeds, whether you like it or don't like it. I'm proud to be in it".[7]

Although best known for his work in costume dramas, Sewell prefers "cravat-less" roles in modern pieces, such as the role of Petruchio in the BBC's 2005 version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. This was shown as part of the ShakespeaRe-Told series, and the role earned him a Best Actor nomination at the 2006 BAFTA Television Awards. In this modern retelling of the story, the action moves from 17th century Padua, Italy to 21st century London. This production marked the fourth time that Sewell had acted in a work based on a Shakespeare play since becoming a professional actor: he previously portrayed Hotspur in Henry IV, Part 1 in 1995, Fortinbras in Hamlet in 1996 and the title role in Macbeth in 1999. The role also reunited him with his Charles II co-star Shirley Henderson.

He appeared in the premiere and first run of Tom Stoppard's latest play Rock 'n' Roll at the Royal Court Theatre from June to July 2006 and at the Duke of York's Theatre from July until November 2006. The play was a critical and commercial success, playing to full houses and collecting several awards and nominations, including wins for Sewell in the Best Actor category at The Evening Standard Awards, The Critics' Circle Awards and The Olivier Awards.

He has recorded eleven of Ian Fleming's James Bond books on 36 CDs for Collins. He continues to work in film, television and theatre, playing the lead role of Dr. Jacob Hood in the CBS TV series Eleventh Hour.[1] He finished filming in November 2009 for a miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, which was shown on TV in 2010.[8] In 2010, he played the Italian detective Aurelio Zen, based on the best-selling novels by Michael Dibdin, for the BBC One drama series Zen. The three episodes were filmed in Rome and shown on BBC One in early January 2011. The series was cancelled by the BBC after just one season.[9] He also had a small part in the film The Tourist, which also starred Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and was released in cinemas in 2010.[10] He played the lead vampire, Adam, in the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,[11] which was filmed in New Orleans and released in June 2012.[12]

Sewell played the role of Ethics Man in Darkside, Tom Stoppard's 2013 radio drama based on Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon.[13] Sewell co-starred with Dwayne Johnson, as Autolycus, in the film Hercules, which was released in July 2014.[14] In 2015, Sewell voiced the role of Sir Claude, a feral cat, in Blinky Bill the Movie. Sewell has most recently appeared as Obergruppenführer Smith in The Man in the High Castle, and as Lord Melbourne in Victoria.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Sewell has been married twice. His first wife was Australian fashion journalist Yasmin Abdallah; they married in 1999 and divorced a few weeks later.[15] He and second wife, scriptwriter and producer Amy Gardner, whom he married in 2004, have a son, William Douglas Sewell (born 2002).[16] They separated in early 2006[17] and subsequently divorced.[18] He also has a daughter.[19]

Sewell has said: "My favourite things are just wandering from place to place, going to cafés, taking photographs. My favourite day is a happy accident".[20]

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Year Title Role Notes
1991 Twenty-One Bobby
1992 Gone to Seed Billy TV series: 6 episodes
1992–94 Screen Two Mike Costain
TV series: 2 episodes
1993 Dirty Weekend Tim
1994 A Night with a Woman, a Day with Charlie Charlie TV
Middlemarch Will Ladislaw TV series: 7 episodes
Citizen Locke Midshipman Clarke TV
A Man of No Importance Robbie Fay
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Seth Starkadder TV
Carrington Mark Gertler
Performance Harry Percy TV series: Episode – Henry IV, Part 1
1996 Hamlet Fortinbras
Victory Martin Ricardo
1997 The Woodlanders Giles Winterbourne
1998 Dangerous Beauty Marco Venier
Dark City John Murdoch
Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence Frank
Illuminata Dominique
At Sachem Farm Ross
1999 In a Savage Land Mick Carpenter
2000 Arabian Nights Ali Baba TV
Bless the Child Eric Stark
2001 A Knight's Tale Count Adhemar
Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature Angus TV
2002 Extreme Ops Ian
2003 Helen of Troy Agamemnon TV
Victoria Station The cabbie
Charles II: The Power and the Passion Charles II TV series: 4 episodes
2004 Taste Michael Kuhleman
2005 The Legend of Zorro Count Armand
ShakespeaRe-Told Petruchio TV series: Episode – The Taming of the Shrew
Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2006 Tristan and Isolde Marke
The Illusionist Crown Prince Leopold
Paris, je t'aime William Segment: "Père-Lachaise"
Amazing Grace Thomas Clarkson
9/11: Out of the Blue The Man
The Holiday Jasper
2008 Downloading Nancy Albert
John Adams Alexander Hamilton TV series: 2 episodes
Vinyan Paul Bellmer
2008–09 Eleventh Hour Dr. Jacob Hood TV series: 18 episodes
2010 The Pillars of the Earth Tom Builder TV series: 5 episodes
The Tourist English man
2011 Zen Aurelio Zen TV series: 3 episodes
2012 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Adam
Hotel Noir Felix
Parade's End Reverend Duchemin TV series: 4 episodes
Restless Lucas Romer TV series: 2 episodes
2013 All Things to All Men Parker
I'll Follow You Down Gabe
The Sea Carlo Grace
2014 Hercules Autolycus
The Devil's Hand Jacob Brown
The Man in the High Castle (Series 1) John Smith TV series: 10 episodes
2015 Killing Jesus Caiaphas
Blinky Bill the Movie Sir Claude Voice
2016 Gods of Egypt Urshu
Victoria Lord Melbourne TV series
The Man in the High Castle (Series 2) John Smith TV series: 10 episodes

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Rufus Sewell biography."
  2. Rufus Sewell Biography (1967–)
  3. Rufus Sewell Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  4. Saner, Emine. "Dark star", The Guardian, 8 December 2006. Retrieved on 23 May 2010. 
  5. Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts by Michael Winner, p.269.
  6. Leonard, Tom."I really don't want to play a baddie again." The Telegraph. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Rufus Sewell: Downloading Nancy. (4 June 2009). Retrieved on 4 June 2009..
  8. "Three sign on for 'Pillars of the Earth'", The Hollywood Reporter, 8 June 2009.
  9. Citation.
  10. Rufus Sewell joins Angelina Jolie in Paris
  11. Rufus Sewell is top baddie in 'Vampire Hunter'. Variety (12 April 2011). Retrieved on 4 March 2012.
  12. Filipponi, Pietro (30 March 2011). Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Set Pics .... The Daily Blam!. Retrieved on 4 March 2012.
  13. "Pink Floyd album inspires Sir Tom Stoppard radio play", BBC, 28 March 2013. Retrieved on 24 August 2013. 
  14. "Joseph Fiennes, Ian McShane Join ‘Hercules’ Cast", Variety. 
  15. Fox, Chloe. "Cut and Thrust", The Telegraph, 5 November 2003. Retrieved on 5 February 2013. 
  16. Emine Saner. "Dark star", The Guardian, 8 December 2006. Retrieved on 5 February 2012. 
  17. Rufus Sewell Dumped By Wife (2 January 2006). Retrieved on 5 February 2012.
  18. Lisa Sewards. "At last I've ditched the britches! Rufus Sewell on swapping costume drama to be TV's coolest detective", Daily Mail, 6 January 2011. Retrieved on 5 February 2012. 
  19. Rufus Sewell interview: 'My character is not a monster - he's a human'
  20. Macdonald, M. "The Evening Standard", page 14. Associated Press, 2005

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