Rufus Sewell: 'Zen' Star Offsets His Air Travel

Mother Nature Network, 13 July 2011
By Gerri Miller

For actors who must travel for work, considerable energy consumption is a fact of life. "One of the things I feel most guilty about is the amount of flying I have to do," admits British actor Rufus Sewell, whose latest project, the PBS "Masterpiece Mystery!" three-part series "Zen," is set in and was shot in Rome. So in an effort to counterbalance, "I recycle religiously, and I walk a lot in London and Los Angeles and I drive a Prius," he says.

Sewell, best known for such period fare as "Pillars of the Earth," "A Knight's Tale," "Helen of Troy," "Dangerous Beauty" and "John Adams," is in contemporary mode as the title character in "Zen," an Armani-clad Italian policeman who's living with his mother since his marriage broke up, and having a secret affair with a married co-worker (Caterina Murino).

"He's got great suits but underneath he's not too slick," says Sewell. "He's always in a bad situation, always one step behind. He's perfectly capable of being slippery and underhanded but on his own terms. He's just trying to get through the day. He certainly has a moral code. He certainly is very good at his job. But there are so many different things he has to negotiate. He's regarded as being incredibly good at his job, but because he never makes the right political decision when it counts he's back on a desk job."

In the July 17 premiere, "Vendetta," Aurelio Zen endeavors to solve one murder while trying to escape a vengeance-seeking psychopath intent on taking revenge on those who wrongly imprisoned him (Zen was briefly an investigator on the case).

For Sewell, working in Rome "was a real treat," although "we were working ridiculous hours so I didn't see a lot of it." He'd welcome revisiting the character and notes the "potential for many more" episodes, as there are 11 books in the series by Michael Dibdin from which to draw.

Meanwhile, Sewell will head to the big screen in the cast of "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," set for release next June.


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