Wait­ing for Ru­fus

Af­ter a decade away, Aus­tralia again beck­ons for Ru­fus Sewell, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

RU­FUS Sewell has a mes­sage for lo­cal TV pro­duc­ers. He would love to work in Aus­tralia. The 43-year-old ac­tor has dual Aus­tralian/Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship (his fa­ther was Aus­tralian), but hasn’t worked here for more than a decade.

His last Aussie projects were movies In a Sav­age Land and Dark City.

It is a dif­fer­ent story over­seas, where Sewell is in de­mand. Two of his lat­est TV projects pre­miere in Aus­tralia this week — de­tec­tive se­ries Zen and big-bud­get his­tor­i­cal mini-se­ries The Pil­lars of the Earth.

Sewell has also had a fea­ture role in the Johnny Depp/ An­gelina Jolie film The Tourist and was the star of ma­jor US TV se­ries The Eleventh Hour from pro­ducer Jerry Bruck­heimer.

‘‘ I haven’t been back to Aus­tralia for a num­ber of years, so I re­ally hope I get a chance to come out soon,’’ Sewell says from his Lon­don home. ‘‘ I have the pass­port.’’

Sewell’s acting ca­reer has been a tri­umph over ad­ver­sity. He was born in Twick­en­ham and his fa­ther Bill, an an­i­ma­tor, and mother Jo broke up when he was five.

Jo took up jobs in­clud­ing work­ing in a pub and sell­ing veg­eta­bles to raise her two sons (Sewell has an older brother, Cas­par). Money was short.

Sewell’s fa­ther died when he was 10. He de­scribes the event as ‘‘ hor­ri­ble’’ and re­grets that he ‘‘ didn’t get a chance to find out for my­self what he was re­ally like’’.

His teens were a blur of drink­ing, tak­ing drugs and shoplift­ing. Res­cue came when his school drama teacher en­cour­aged him to au­di­tion for the Cen­tral School of Speech and Drama.

His acting ca­reer took off when he won the role of Will Ladis­law in the mini-se­ries Mid­dle­march.

Sewell has been mar­ried twice and has a son, Billy, 8, to his sec­ond wife, scriptwriter Amy Gard­ner.

He has been dat­ing 24-yearold hair stylist Ami Ko­mai for the past two years. The pair re­port­edly met on the set of The Eleventh Hour.

If Sewell’s past has been tough, he can’t say the same thing about star­ring in Zen.

Sewell had to spend 41/ months in Italy film­ing three Zen tele­movies along­side Bond girl Ca­te­rina Murino.

Sewell plays Ital­ian de­tec­tive Aure­lio Zen in the se­ries, which is based on the best­selling de­tec­tive nov­els by Michael Dib­din.

Zen isn’t your typ­i­cal TV de­tec­tive. He is ur­bane, wears de­signer suits, has a dry sense of hu­mour and is of­ten out of his depth in an Italy swirling with corruption.

‘‘ He is a cop sur­rounded by corruption, but he’s not in a moral rage about it,’’ Sewell says. ‘‘ He’s not a cor­ri­dorstrid­ing win­ner who al­ways gets his man.’’

The stun­ning Murino, who has been called ‘‘ the new Sophia Loren’’ and was in Casino Royale, plays po­lice as­sis­tant Ta­nia Moretti.

Sewell says there was no chance of real-life ro­mance be­cause Murino ‘‘ hap­pens to be go­ing out with a 6ft 6in rugby player’’ and Ko­mai ‘‘ is handy with her fists’’.

‘‘ Ca­te­rina is ridicu­lously gor­geous, but she’s also got a great sense of hu­mour. We got on like a house on fire,’’ Sewell says.

The only down­side was spend­ing so much time away from Billy. Sewell was in nearly ev­ery scene of Zen, which meant no time for rush trips from Italy back to Lon­don.

In­stead, Billy vis­ited Sewell dur­ing school hol­i­days.

Sewell is back in Lon­don spend­ing time with Billy and de­scribes him­self as ‘‘ wil­fully unem­ployed’’.

‘‘ Since Zen, I’ve been wait­ing for the right thing,’’ he says. ‘‘ I’ve been of­fered a few things that are very much stuff I’m try­ing not to do. I’m also try­ing to de­velop a cou­ple of projects my­self.

‘‘ The only power I’ve got, if I don’t want to be type­cast, is the power to be wil­fully unem­ployed. I’m ex­press­ing that power to the ultimate at the mo­ment.’’ Zen, UKTV, Satur­day, 8.30pm

Ital­ian job: Ru­fus Sewell with Ca­te­rina Murino in Zen.

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