Spotlight On: Rufus Sewell



Our column, Spotlight On, will feature actors, musicians, artists, writers, and anyone we feel is up-and-coming, underrated or just needs a little bit more recognition. This entry focuses on an actor who has been around or a long time and has proven himself time and time again, despite not having the name recognition he deserves: Rufus Sewell.

Born: October 29, 1967 in Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK

Family:  Previously married to Yasmin Abdallah and Amy Gardner with whom he has one child William Douglas Sewell (Billy), born 18 March 2002

Well-Known Projects: A Knight’s Tale, Dark City, Tristan + Isolde, The Holiday, The Illusionist, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Pillars of the Earth, The Tourist, The Legend of Zorro, Hamlet  

Lesser-Known Projects:  Hotel Noir, Vinyan, Downloading Nancy, Amazing Grace, Extreme Ops, The Woodlanders, Dangerous Beauty, The Very Thought of You, Middlemarch, Gone to Seed

Comings Soon:  Hercules: The Thracian Wars, The Devil’s Rapture, The Sea, All Things to All Men

Rufus Sewell’s resume is long and impressive. Since the early 1990’s he has been playing heroes, villains, and everything in between. He has shown up in major blockbusters with impressive performances and is a staple in British television as well. Despite his obvious talent and frequent appearances, Sewell hasn’t quite ridden to A-level star status. Any movie buff would know his name but the common moviegoer might not.

"Land of the Lost" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

Rufus’s classic good looks led him to start out with roles as the dashing young male lead in productions such as BBC’s 1994 mini-series Middlemarch where he played Will Ladislaw, 1997’s The Woodlanders as Giles Winterbourne and 1998’s Dangerous Beauty as Marco Venier. Rufus had a simultaneously smoldering look and puppy-dog eyes that, coupled with his natural affinity for acting, made him a clear choice for these romantic roles. In the late 1990’s Rufus had roles in many forgettable films including The Very Thought of You with Joseph Fiennes, the drama Illuminata, and the period piece Victory. He also had roles in At Sachem Farm with Minnie Driver and 1999’s In a Savage Land.

Rufus Sewell in Middlemarch and Dangerous Beauty

Rufus Sewell in Middlemarch and Dangerous Beauty

In 1998 Rufus Sewell starred in the Sci-Fi classic, Dark City. He played a man named John Murdoch who wakes up with no memories of his life and creepy soul-suckers trying to find him. It was perhaps his most mainstream role to date and Sewell proved he could carry a movie as its leading man. This was supposed to be his break out role but for some reason it didn’t come as quickly as it should have, Despite his obvious capabilities at playing the hero, Rufus would go on to become even more famous as the villain.

Rufus Sewell in Dark City

Rufus Sewell in Dark City

Rufus Sewell is darkly handsome and has a smoldering stare that gives him the right look to play the charismatic bad guy. Perhaps his most famous villainous role was in A Knight’s Tale where he played Count Adhemar, Heath Ledger’s nemesis. Legder is a poor man who wishes to become a knight and Sewell is the rich and handsome guy who competes against him, both in the jousting tournament and for the lovely lady Jocelyn.  Complete with his own character score, Adhemar is a classic villain sent to foil our protagonist. 

Rufus Sewell in A Knight's Tale.

Rufus Sewell in A Knight’s Tale.

After A Knight’s Tale Rufus had a streak of TV movie roles. He played the ultimate bad guy Agamemnon in Helen of Troy, a man terrorized by a killer mermaid in She Creature, King Charles II in The Last King, and Michael Kuhleman in Taste. In 2005 Rufus found his way back onto the big screen with a role as the charming bad guy Armand in The Legend of Zorro, a sequel to the Antonia Banderas hit. He then played Marke in Tristan + Isolde, a good man whose bride preferred the company of an emo James Franco to himself. His role was supposed to be secondary to pretty-boy Franco but he stole the show every time he was on screen.

Rufus Sewell in The Last King and Tristan + Isolde.

Rufus Sewell in The Last King and Tristan + Isolde.

After that Rufus had some more fun antagonist roles. He played Crown Prince Leopold in 2006’s The Illusionist and the rakish rogue Jasper Bloom in The Holiday with Kate Winslet. Rufus also has a penchant for period films, portraying Thomas Clarkson in 2006’s Amazing Grace and the 2008 mini-series John Adams where he played Alexander Hamilton. Sewell’s talent goes beyond the typical Hollywood stud and allows him to play diverse roles with ease.

Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton in John Adams.

Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton in John Adams.

In the late 2000’s Rufus took a turn as a TV star. He began by playing Dr. Jacob Hood in Eleventh Hour about a government scientist fighting against deadly experiments. The show did not last more than a season and Rufus followed it with the popular Starz mini-series The Pillars of the Earth in which he starred as Tom Builder. In 2011 he played detective Aurelio Zen in the mini-series Zen and Reverend Duchemin in Parade’s End. Rufus’s latest works include Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in which he plays lead bad guy Adam and 2012’s Hotel Noir, a star-studded feature about 1958 Los Angeles.

Rufus Sewell in The Eleventh Hour and Pillars of the Earth.

Rufus Sewell in The Eleventh Hour and Pillars of the Earth.

Rufus has a number of upcoming projects. He is set to play Autolycus in Hercules: The Thracian Wars with Dwayne Johnson and Joseph Fiennes. He will also be starring in The Devil’s Rapture with Jennifer Carpenter, which is about a cult that kills their daughters. Rufus will also be making an appearance in the upcoming drama The Sea and the crime thriller All Things to All Men. Despite being talented and good-looking Rufus still takes a backseat to more famous Hollywood names. It’s only a matter of time before he scores a role than lands him the media attention he deserves.


2 Responses to “Spotlight On: Rufus Sewell”
  1. romeokmusic says:

    Zen was great until the BBC cancelled it 3 episodes In! My two favourite Rufus Sewell roles are John Murdoch in Dark City and Tom Builder in Pillars Of The Earth


  2. Paul C. says:

    Awesome article.. he has the prototypical villain look to him already and should bust out as a Bond Baddies for more exposure


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