In the lap of the gods

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - NEALA JOHN­SON

RU­FUS Sewell was in Sydney a fort­night ago, film­ing his last “chunk” of Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt. Due in early 2016, the fan­tasy film is led by Ger­ard But­ler and Game of Thrones’ Niko­laj Coster- Wal­dau along with lo­cals Ge­of­frey Rush and Bren­ton Th­waites.

While Sewell’s cred­its ( Cold Com­fort Farm, Pa­rade’s End, Mid­dle­march) are as English as Colin Firth, he was counted among the lo­cals — Sewell’s late fa­ther was Aus­tralian and he uses his Aussie pass­port to en­ter the coun­try. Not that he’s done that a lot lately.

“It’s been too long,” admits Sewell, who was last here at the end of the 1990s shoot­ing Bill Ben­nett’s In a Sav­age Land in South Aus­tralia, not long af­ter he’d made Proyas’ Dark City, in Sydney.

“It was won­der­ful to go back to Sydney. I guess I was just wait­ing for another job to take me back ... I’m such a cheap­skate.”

Gods of Egypt of­fered more than a be­lated home­com­ing; Sewell is also en­joy­ing the block­buster se­crecy.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to be told I wasn’t al­lowed to talk about a film,” he grins.

All he will say: “I was play­ing a char­ac­ter called Ur­shu, a chief ar­chi­tect, and it was great fun.”

Gods of Egypt fol­lowed an equally godly shoot in Hun­gary last year for Her­cules. “I only do gods now,” Sewell dead­pans. Given English ac­tors are usu­ally lumped with a vil­lain/ king/ ad­viser role in such films, it’s re­fresh­ing to see Sewell in the thick of the Her­cules ac­tion, along­side Herc him­self, Dwayne “The Rock” John­son.

“I’m well in there. It’s re­ally nice for me,” Sewell agrees. “I have to say, I’ll al­ways be grate­ful to [ direc­tor] Brett Rat­ner for hav­ing no idea who I was, so he didn’t have any pre­con­ceived ideas about me. For the first time in years, not be­ing on a horse com­mand­ing my serfs to kill each other but ac­tu­ally down there in the ac­tion my­self ... it was great fun.”

Along with his old mate Ian McShane, Sewell bulked up to be­come one of Her­cules’ band of mer­ce­nar­ies.

“We were all eat­ing our own ver­sions of the Dwayne John­son diet. But I was so sick of sal­mon by the end of that job,” Sewell groans.

“But now I’ve be­come in­sti­tu­tion­alised, I can’t get off it! I’ve got a pro­tein habit that I just can­not keep un­der con­trol. But no mat­ter how much you work out, it’s quite easy to de­velop dys­mor­phia be­cause if you stand next to Dwayne John­son, you’re al­ways go­ing to look like there’s not enough go­ing on! I was stand­ing next to Dwayne ev­ery day think­ing, ‘ My arms are so spindly’. It was only when I got home I re­alised none of my old suits fit me.”

Sewell trained in act­ing at a pres­ti­gious Lon­don school and has done a lot of clas­sic theatre pieces, in­clud­ing a stint on the West End last year with Kristin Scott Thomas in the Harold Pin­ter play Old Times.

Yet he ap­proached work­ing with wrestler­turned- ac­tor John­son with lit­tle scep­ti­cism.

“I’ve al­ways liked Dwayne, I al­ways thought he had a re­ally great pres­ence, a lot of hu­mour and a great hu­mil­ity. I just thought, when I read the script, that it was a very good ve­hi­cle for him.

“When the cast as­sem­bled for a read- through, it was so much less cheesy and ob­vi­ously block­buster- ish; it was a very in­ter­est­ing, eclec­tic cast with a lot of re­ally wide- rang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Among that eclec­tic cast was one of Sewell’s he­roes, John Hurt.

Though Sewell had met the English vet­eran in his agent’s of­fice in the very early days of his ca­reer, he’d never had the chance to work with him un­til now.

“He al­ways has been [ a hero],” says Sewell, “but now he’s just John. It’s funny, when you meet some­one very, very fa­mous, un­less you’re slightly patho­log­i­cal, you can’t main­tain the idea of them as a fa­mous person if you ac­tu­ally en­gage with them. It’s only when you walk away that you think, ‘ Je­sus Christ, that was so and so!’

“It was only re­ally when I saw the trailer for Her­cules that I thought, ‘ Christ, I’m in a film with John Hurt!’.”

HER­CULES Now show­ing at Vil­lage Cine­mas

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.