Stepping Up to Broadway: Rufus Sewell - 'Translations.'

Newsday, 6 June 1995                     Photo 1         Photo 2
By Anna Mundow

The production of Brian Friel's play was short-lived, but few who saw it could forget Rufus Sewell's passionate and poetic performance as a 19th-Century Irishman. Prior to "Translations," Sewell, 27, had created the role of the tutor in the Royal National Theater's original production of "Arcadia," which also opened on Broadway this season. But he says there was never any possibility of having made his debut in that role instead.

"Any enthusiasm was quelled by a heavy iron boot," he says of the Equity rules limiting foreign performers on Broadway. The opportunity to play the anguished Owen came up when he was in New York doing promotion on a "Man Of No Improtance," the Albert Finney movie in which he played the bus driver.

While he says he was excited to be making his debut in "Translations," the London born actor said he consciously avoided that as a particular goal. "I am your average British Church Hall type of actor. Opening nights just meant getting some free drink. The commerical pressures of getting a production tweaked and prodded into shape was something I had never before experienced."

Once a drummer in a number of rock bands ("all of them crap"), he earned his stripes in regional and repertory theater before being nominated for an Oliver for "Arcadia." He has been active in films and television as well.

After "Translations" closed, Sewell chose to remain in the United States sussing out his next career move. "I'm prepared to be unemployed for a very long time if that is what it takes to find a role to make my hair stand on end."

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