Rufus Sewell Addicted to ‘The Rock’ Diet After Beefing Up to Fight With Hercules, 1 August 2014
Thanks, Marina, Adina

Rufus Sewell was in Sydney a fortnight ago, filming his last “chunk” of Alex Proyas’s 'Gods Of Egypt'.

Due in early 2016, the fantasy film is led by Gerard Butler and Game Of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau along with locals Geoffrey Rush and Brenton Thwaites.

While Sewell’s credits ('Cold Comfort Farm', 'Parade’s End', 'Middlemarch') and accent are as English as Colin Firth, he was counted among the locals — Sewell’s father was Australian and he uses his Aussie passport to enter the country. Not that he’s done that a lot lately.

“It’s been too long,” admits Sewell, who was last here at the end of the 1990s shooting Bill Bennett’s 'In a Savage Land', not long after he’d made Proyas’s 'Dark City'.

“It was wonderful to go back. I guess I was just waiting for another job to take me back … I’m such a cheapskate.”

'Gods Of Egypt' offered more than a belated homecoming; Sewell is also enjoying the blockbuster secrecy.

“I’ve always wanted to be told I wasn’t allowed to talk about a film,” he grins. All he will say: “I was playing a character called Urshu, a chief architect, and it was great fun.”

For Sewell, 'Gods Of Egypt' followed an equally godly shoot in Hungary for 'Hercules'. “I only do gods now,” he deadpans.

Given English actors are usually lumped with an inert villain/ king/adviser role in such films, it’s refreshing to see Sewell in the thick of the Hercules action, alongside Herc himself, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“I’m well in there,” Sewell agrees. “I have to say, I’ll always be grateful to (director) Brett Ratner for having no idea who I was, so he didn’t have any preconceived ideas about me. “For the first time in years, to be not on a horse commanding my serfs to kill each other but actually down there in the action myself … it was great fun.”

With his mate Ian McShane, Sewell bulked up to become one of Hercules’ band of mercenaries.

“We were all eating our own versions of the Dwayne Johnson diet. I mean, f--- me, I was so sick of salmon by the end of that job,” Sewell groans. “But now I’ve become institutionalised, I can’t get off it! I’ve got a protein habit that I just cannot keep under control."

“But no matter how much you work out, it’s quite easy to develop dysmorphia because if you stand next to Dwayne Johnson, you’re always going to look like there’s not enough going on.

“I was standing next to Dwayne every day thinking, ‘My arms are so spindly’. It was only when I got home I realised none of my old suits fitted me.”

Sewell trained in acting at a prestigious London school and has done a lot of classical theatre, including a West End stint last year with Kristin Scott Thomas in the Harold Pinter play 'Old Times'.

Yet he approached working with wrestler-turned-actor Johnson with little scepticism. “I’ve always liked Dwayne, I always thought he had a really great presence, a lot of humour and a great humility.

“When the cast assembled for a read-through, it was so much less cheesy and obviously blockbuster-ish; it was a very eclectic cast with a lot of really wideranging experience.”

Among that cast was Sewell’s hero, UK veteran John Hurt.

“It’s funny, when you meet someone very famous, unless you’re slightly pathological, you can’t maintain the idea of them as ‘famous’ if you actually engage with them,” Sewell says. “It was only really when I saw the trailer for Hercules that I thought, ‘F---! I’m in a film with John Hurt’.”

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