- Rufus Frederik Sewell
October 29, 1967 (age 52)
- Amy Gardner
- William Sewell, Jo Sewell
Rufus Frederik Sewell (born 29 October 1967) is an English actor. In film, he has appeared in The Woodlanders, Dangerous Beauty, Dark City, A Knight's Tale, The Illusionist, Tristan and Isolde, and Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence. On television, he starred in the BBC's television series Zen (2011) and the mini-series The Pillars of the Earth (2010). Earlier he played the hero, Will Ladislaw, in the BBC adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch. In 2003, he appeared in the lead role in Charles II: The Power and The Passion. He starred in the CBS drama Eleventh Hour which was cancelled in April 2009. On stage, he originated the role of Septimus Hodge in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and the role of Jan in Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll; the latter earned him an Olivier Award and a Tony Award nomination.
Sewell was born in Twickenham in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London, the son of William, an Australian animator, and Jo Sewell, a Welsh artist and waitress. His father worked on the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segment of animation for The Beatles' Yellow Submarine film. His parents divorced when Sewell was five, and his mother worked to support her two sons. His father died when Sewell was 10. By his own admission, Sewell was a difficult teenager.
Sewell was educated at Orleans Park School, a state comprehensive school in Twickenham, which he left in 1984, followed by West Thames College, where a drama teacher sent him to audition for drama school. He later enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
After graduating, Sewell was set up with an agent by Judi Dench who had directed him in a play while at the Central School of Speech and Drama. His breakthrough year was in 1993, in which he starred in the BBC serial of George Eliot's Middlemarch and on stage in Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia at The Royal National Theatre (Lyttelton). His film work includes 1995's Cold Comfort Farm, directed by John Schlesinger, the lead role of John Murdoch in the science fiction film Dark City in 1998, Amazing Grace, The Illusionist and Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy The Holiday. Amazing Grace deals with William Wilberforce's political fight to abolish slavery in Britain, with Sewell playing Wilberforce's co-campaigner Thomas Clarkson. Sewell is known for his villainous roles, such as those in A Knight's Tale, The Legend of Zorro, Bless the Child, Helen of Troy and The Illusionist. He spoke of his unhappiness about this, saying that "[I] don't want to play a baddie again." "Everyone has their thing they have to get around", notes Sewell. "With me, it's like okay, how can I make this upper class bad guy in the 19th century different and interesting?"
Sewell has been married twice. His first wife was Australian fashion journalist Yasmin Abdallah; they married in 1999 and divorced a few months later. He and second wife, scriptwriter and producer Amy Gardner, whom he married in 2004, have a son, William Douglas Sewell (born 2002). They separated in 2006 and have since divorced.