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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, and Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence. On television, he became well known for his role as 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 on 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, which earned him an Olivier Award and a Tony Award nomination for the latter performance.

Early life

Sewell was born in Twickenhammarker in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thamesmarker in South West Londonmarker, the son of William Sewell, an Australian animator, and Jo, a Welshmarker 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, and by his own admission he was a difficult teenager.

Sewell attended Orleans Park Schoolmarker, which he left in 1984. Later on, a drama teacher at West Thames Collegemarker spotted his promise and sent him to audition for drama school. He enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating, he was set up with an agent by Dame Judi Dench who had directed him in a play while at Central.


1993 was Sewell's breakthrough year; he starred in the BBC serial of George Eliot's Middlemarch and on stage in Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia at The Royal National Theatremarker (Lyttelton). His film work includes 1995's Cold Comfort Farm, directed by John Schlesinger, the lead role of John Murdoch in the sci-fi 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 recently appeared in the HBO miniseries John Adams as Alexander Hamilton.He received critical praise for his portrayal of "merry monarch" Charles II in the BBCs Charles II: The Power and the Passion. The series boasted in all star cast including Ian McDiarmid, Helen McCrory, Rupert Graves and Shirley Henderson and spanned the life of the king from his last days in exile to his death. He co-starred in the controversial film Downloading Nancy, which hit screens on June 5, 2009. It faced a rocky road to movie theaters. At the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, audiences walked out of the screening, and as of last summer 2008, any theatrical release was still uncertain. Despite the controversy, Sewell, continues to staunchly support the film however, his role in it taking him well-beyond the two dimensional baddies he's over-used to playing. "It's a film I'm very proud of, whether you consider that it fails or succeeds, whether you like it or don't like it. I'm proud to be in it."

Although best known for his work in costume dramas, Sewell prefers "cravat-less" roles in modern pieces, such as the role of Petruchio in the BBC's 2005 version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. This was shown as part of the ShakespeaRe-Told season, and the role earned him a Best Actor nomination at the 2006 BAFTA Television Awards. In this modern retelling of the story the action moves from 17th Century Paduamarker, Italymarker to 21st Century Londonmarker. This production marked the fourth time that Sewell had acted in a work based on a Shakespeare play since becoming a professional actor: he previously portrayed Hotspur in Henry IV, Part 1 in 1995, Fortinbras in Hamlet in 1996 and the title role in Macbeth in 1999. The role also reunited him with his Charles II co-star Shirley Henderson.

He appeared in the premiere and first run of Tom Stoppard's latest play Rock 'n' Roll at the Royal Court Theatremarker from June to July 2006 and at the Duke of York's Theatremarker from July until November 2006. The play was a critical and commercial success, playing to full houses and garnering several awards and nominations, including wins for Sewell in the Best Actor category at The Evening Standard Awards, The Critics' Circle Awards and The Olivier Awards.

He has recorded eleven of Ian Fleming's James Bond books on 36 CDs for Collins. He continues to work in film, television and theatre, he played the lead role Dr. Jacob Hood in the CBS TV series Eleventh Hour. He is to star in the miniseries The Pillars of the Earth which he is currently shooting in Hungary until November 2009, with the premiere set for the later half of 2010.

Personal life

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, Amy Gardner, whom he married in 2004, have a son, William 'Billy' Douglas (born March 18, 2002). They have since divorced.

Sewell divides his time between Londonmarker and Los Angelesmarker. When not working, he enjoys photography and is a fan of Leicamarker equipment. Says Sewell: "My favourite things are just wandering from place to place, going to cafes, taking photographs. My favourite day is a happy accident."



  1. "Rufus Sewell biography."
  2. Rufus Sewell Biography (1967-)
  3. Rufus Sewell Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  4. Dark star | | Guardian Unlimited Arts
  5. Leonard, Tom. "I really don't want to play a baddie again." The Telegraph. December 8, 2006. Accessed May 26, 2008.
  6. .
  7. "Three sign on for 'Pillars of the Earth'", The Hollywood Reporter, 8 June 2009.
  8. Fox, Chloe. "Cut and Thrust", Telegraph magazine, October 2003.
  9. Macdonald, M. "The Evening Standard", page 14. Associated Press, 2005

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