About Rufus.com

Interview from Virgin.net

With his brooding intensity and good looks, Rufus Sewell has never been short of work. Having made his name on the London stage, he appeared in Middlemarch and Cold Comfort Farm on television before becoming the latest British actor to play villains in Hollywood blockbusters. He can currently be seen as the dastardly Count Adhemar in the knockabout period romp A Knight's Tale. Virgin.net caught up with him...

You played a villain in your last film Bless The Child. Were you scared of being typecast as the bad guy when you were sent the script for A Knight's Tale?
"I thought career-wise it was probably not good to play two bad guys in a row but then I thought, stuff it. They're two very different parts, and I know that I'm not going to play another villain again. So I just thought, it's a good part so stuff it."

Is it true you weren't originally interested in the role?
"Well, the first time I met the producers I just couldn't rouse any interest. They said afterwards, we like him but we're not sure he likes us very much. A couple of months later, my agent said you really should read it again, so I did. By the second time I read it, I really wanted to play it so all the other questions went out of the window."

How do you find Brian Helgeland as a director?
"As a director I loved working with him. I think the worst thing a director can do is talk too much. An inexperienced or stupid director will feel the need to let you know they're directing all the time. They won't trust their own authority, so they'll fiddle. They will always have something to say to you, and really what you want to say to them is just go away and leave me alone."

"For a start, he casts well. And that is a lot of it: knowing your own material and knowing who the right people are. And he wouldn't say much but when he did, it was something you really needed to hear. I don't appreciate directors who think they know how to talk to actors. I always find it patronising."

Did he mind the actors improvising around his script?
"There were a couple of things I did but the language was pretty contained and it wasn't really open to improvisation. It was more that there was a trust there: he trusted us and trusted himself, so he wasn't trying to prove any point about being a director."

Do you think his experiences in Hollywood have made him a better director?
"I think his experience of having material of his wrestled away from him made him decide he never wanted anyone else to direct his material again. I think making a decision like that makes you understand what you're doing and why you're doing it."

Did you train hard for the film?
"I did lots. I did some riding with lances and I trained for about two months. It was worth it because we looked very comfortable on the horses, which we were. But a lot of what I did wasn't used because they weren't going to let us put ourselves in danger."

What was the armour like?
"Horrible! Until you see a bit of the footage and you think hey, I look kind of cool. After a while we were all posing like twats. But it was very heavy and uncomfortable, especially when it was hot. They had to pour water down the cracks it would get so hot. If I touched myself by accident I would burn my hand. It was really horrible. During the Crusades, 30 per cent of the deaths were from heat exhaustion."

Did you do much research into the era?
"Yes I did, just a little, just so you know where you stand politically. I don't mean as an actor but with the character. It's good to have a little background information."

What was it like working with Heath Lodger? He's really hot right now.
"He's coping with it very well. I've seen him quite recently and he's doing very well. But he should probably take a little time off. A lot of people have been making demands on him and he's still young. He's a really nice, thoughtful, kind, good bloke."

There's been a lot of fuss over the bogus quotes used to publicise the movie in the States. Do you have any comment on that?
"I only recently find out about it and I think it's amazing. What's funny is someone getting caught doing it, because I'm sure they've been doing it for years."

The film is full of anachronistic details. Were you worried that people might not get the joke?
"Well, I think if I can get it then other people will, and the people who don't get it are not my kind of people. If you want comedy for stupid people there's plenty of that around. Often you do something and you find out it's been rearranged because certain people didn't understand it or appreciate it. My argument would be that they were never going to. Dark City was cut up and simplified because a load of people in the test screening didn't understand a word of it. So they recut it to make it simpler and what happened was that a larger proportion still didn't understand it, and the people who understood it before liked it less."

Could you tell us a little bit about your role in Luther?
"It's Luther by John Osborne who wrote Look Back In Anger. It's difficult to describe in terms of plot. It's just an extremely well-written, extraordinary play that's going to be on in October at the National Theatre."

 

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