Excerpted from : FILM: Who Will Be The New Ralph Fiennes, The Next Hugh Grant?

The New York Times, 1 January 1995
By Matt Wolf

Not long ago, Daniel Day Lewis and Kenneth Branagh were the British names on everyone's lips when it came to actors; more recently, Hugh Grant and Ralph Fiennes have dominated Hollywood's imagination. Which raises the inevitable question: Who among current British actors are poised to become the next Hugh Grant and the next Ralph Fiennes?

Luckily for England, a country of waning industries, stage actors are a renewable resource. There are dozens of promising actors, including the Shakespearean leading man Toby Stephens; the rangy, contemporary Ben Daniels; and the classically skilled yet hip Jude Law. But among the dozens of rising actors who have appeared in London's big subsidized theaters or on the West End, five stand out in the roles they have landed and the critical attention they have received.

By coincidence (or maybe not), three of them will appear in Christopher Hampton's movie "Carrington," a look at the sexual goings-on of the Bloomsbury group that will open this summer; two make their Broadway debuts this year in "Translations" and in "Hamlet." All five are thought to share that indefinable phenomenon known as star quality, which makes columnists eager to put their names into bold type -- and critics keen to see their work.

A footnote: There seem to be fewer women waiting in the wings, which means Emma Thompson can relax for a while.

Rufus Sewell Leading Man, Character Parts

Between the time Daniel Day-Lewis rejected the leading role in Neil Jordan's "Interview With the Vampire" and Tom Cruise accepted it, an actor who was dazzling audiences in Tom Stoppard's acclaimed National Theater production of "Arcadia" took three days off to fly to Los Angeles to test for the part of Lestat.

"Me and Tom Cruise, we're always going up for the same parts," says Rufus Sewell, 27. "He won this time."

"Arcadia" will be produced at Lincoln Center in March but without Mr. Sewell, who will be otherwise engaged on Broadway, in a new production of Brian Friel's "Translations," directed by Howard Davies, with Brian Dennehy.

With his unruly dark hair and chiseled features, Mr. Sewell suggests a finely bred rakehell, but he hopes to avoid conventional casting. He prefers what he calls "slightly lumpy, misshapen characters" in favor of those who are "straight-backed and attractive."

In other words, while the critics have praised his leading-man charisma, he has a character actor's eclectic tastes and skills. "I like small parts," he says. "You can concentrate on getting them right."

Mr. Sewell is best known in the United States for his portrayal of Will Ladislaw in the BBC production of "Middlemarch," shown on PBS last spring. In the new film "A Man of No Importance," he plays the fetching Dublin bus driver who is the object of Albert Finney's affections. In "Carrington," Mr. Sewell plays the painter Mark Gertler, who introduces the artist Dora Carrington (Emma Thompson) to the writer Lytton Strachey.

After that, audiences will find Mr. Sewell playing a cardsharp and a killer in "Victory," a film based on the 1915 Joseph Conrad novel, which also stars Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill. "Rufus has a dual ability," says Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of Miramax, which is distributing the film later this year. "He can play the parts that Gary Oldman and Tim Roth play" -- the deranged bad guys -- "and he can also do what Daniel Day-Lewis does best," in other words, portray the romantic leading man in a strong dramatic role.


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