Brooding Actor Rufus Sewell Talks Role Models, Regrets and Romantic Leads

Daily Mail , 2 September 2007
By Michael Andrews

Rufus Sewell shot to fame playing Will Ladislaw in the BBC's adaptation of Middlemarch, and followed that with a major screen success as the baddie in A Knight's Tale. He lives in Shepherd's Bush, West London, with his four-year-old son, Billy.

WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR?

I see someone who is organised, sensible and who makes sure he gets a proper night's sleep. On the other hand, I don't want to get at all complacent. I often think: "You're just three compliments away from being a bona fide big-headed star." That would be horrible.

DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?

When I played the part of Will Ladislaw in 'Middlemarch', it was an experiment for me to see if I could play a young romantic of my own age who didn't have a limp or a Latvian accent. But afterwards I found myself fighting not to play more brooding, period romantic roles. My success held me back for a while. After A Knight's Tale, I found myself typecast again as a baddie. I often joke with friends that if I get a part that involves smiling, I can show my marvellous acting range.

WHAT DO THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD TELL YOU?

I often find myself thinking about my film roles, but I discovered a long time ago that it's better to get on with whatever you have to hand than worry about it.

WHAT'S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?

Lattes. I take a sip and then I don't touch them again - I forget and they go cold. I spend about 30 a day on the bloody things.

ARE YOU A CONFIDENT PERSON?

I don't think so because I have a problem with planning and making predictions about my future. I always feel the day I state confidently where I am going to be in five years' time is the day I will be run over by a bus, which would be fate's way of laughing at me.

WHAT WOULD IT SURPRISE US TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I used to drive a very unusual car - a 1975 Bristol 411. They are not an obvious statement symbol at all. I was probably the only person driving one in London who didn't wear a dickie bow. I liked it because people didn't bother scratching it when it was parked in the street. They might write something rude with their fingers in the dust, but at least they didn't use their keys.

ARE YOU A SHOPAHOLIC OR SHOP SHY?

Neither, but I like certain places and areas that have a vibe. I wander over to Notting Hill whenever I want to buy something, but I wouldn't like living there - I would find it a bit too intimidating having to get my look just right before venturing out to the corner shop.

WHAT'S THE MOST HOLLYWOOD THING ABOUT YOU?

When I was filming 'The Holiday', I spent four months living in the Chateau Marmont hotel, which sounds very glamorous. It was great at first, but as soon as I realised I was paying for all the extras (and merely making a phone call can cost you a thousand bucks), I ended up scrounging. I bought myself a little toaster and coffee maker. I'd occasionally get a car to take me on set with the idea I was missing the showbiz banter, but really it was to raid the canteen and come back with lots of cakes and bagfuls of sandwiches.

HAVE YOU HAD TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE SINCE YOU BECAME A CELEBRITY?

Am I a celebrity? I don't get recognised much. I still use the Tube and no one bothers me. I was once flying business class and the stewardess invited me to meet the captain. He said: "What have you been doing - a movie?" I said: "Yes." He handed me a piece of paper, asking if I'd sign it for his son. He said: "Could you write "From one gladiator to another?" When I laughed and told him he'd got the wrong person, he said: "Who are you? You were in Gladiator, weren't you? Joaquin Phoenix? No? Well, what are you doing here?"

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?

I admired Anthony Hopkins when he was fairly unknown. He was my little secret.

CAN YOU SHOW APPRECIATION FOR SOMEONE YOU LOVE?

Yes, I can. It's always been important to be in a relationship when I'm in one, but I don't actively look for one. I've gone through long times without being with someone, but that's not happened for a while.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF BEING A FATHER?

I think I was a bit frightened at first of having to be a grown-up, but I don't feel that way now. I gradually realised I wanted to be around Billy more and be a good Dad to him. Now I love it. My job means I travel a lot and that results in me having to be active in maintaining contact with Billy.


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