Rufus Sewell
Sewell in 2010
Rufus Frederik Sewell

(1967-10-29) 29 October 1967 (age 56)
Hammersmith, London, England
Years active1991–present
Yasmin Abdallah
(m. 1999; div. 2000)
Amy Gardner
(m. 2004; div. 2006)

Rufus Frederik Sewell (/ˈsjəl/; born 29 October 1967) is a British actor. In film, he has appeared in Carrington (1995), Hamlet (1996), Dangerous Beauty (1998), Dark City (1998), A Knight's Tale (2001), The Legend of Zorro (2005), The Illusionist (2006), Amazing Grace (2006), The Holiday (2006), The Tourist (2010), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), Judy (2019), The Father (2020), and Old (2021).

On television, he has appeared in Middlemarch (1994), Arabian Nights (2000), Charles II: The Power and the Passion (2003), John Adams (2008), Eleventh Hour (2008–2009), Zen (2011), The Pillars of the Earth (2010), Parade's End (2012), Victoria (2016–2017), The Man in the High Castle (2014–2019), and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2019) and The Pale Horse (2020). He currently stars in the Netflix series The Diplomat.[1]

On stage, he originated the role of Septimus Hodge in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (1993) and the role of Jan in Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll (2006), with the latter earning him an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Play as well as a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

Early life

Sewell was born the son of Jo, a Welsh artist and classically trained pianist.[2][3] His father, William John Frederick Sewell (1924–1978), was an Anglo-Australian animator who was born in Australia to English parents and worked on the “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segment of animation for the Beatles' Yellow Submarine film.[4][5][6][7] His parents divorced when Sewell was five and his father died when he was 10.[8][9] Sewell's mother subsequently lived at The Pelican, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, formerly home to the parents of Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas.[3][10] Sewell has said that he was a difficult teenager.[8]

Sewell was educated at Trafalgar Junior School, a state junior school in Twickenham which he left in 1978. Whilst at Trafalgar Junior School he was a member of the drama club and he played the lead in Rumpelstiltskin, which he acted on his knees throughout.[citation needed]

Sewell went on to Orleans Park School,[11] 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 Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.[8][11]


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.[citation needed] His breakthrough year was in 1993, in which he starred as the unpleasant Tim in Michael Winner's film Dirty Weekend. Winner chose him after seeing him in a play at the Criterion Theatre.[12] Also in 1993 Sewell 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."[13] "Everyone has their thing they have to get around,"[14] notes Sewell. "With me, it's like okay, how can I make this upper-class bad guy in the 19th century different and interesting?"

In 2008, Sewell appeared in the HBO miniseries John Adams as Alexander Hamilton. He received critical praise for his portrayal of Charles II in the BBC's Charles II: The Power and The Passion. The series' cast included 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 was released on 5 June 2009.[15] At the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, audiences walked out of the screening. Despite the controversy, Sewell continues to staunchly support the film. "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."[14]

Between 2006 and 2009, on BBC Radio, Sewell read Russell Thorndike's stories of Doctor Syn—the adventures of an 18th-century clergyman, adventurer, smuggler and pirate. 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 series, 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 Padua, Italy to 21st-century London. 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 play Rock 'n' Roll at the Royal Court Theatre from June to July 2006 and at the Duke of York's Theatre from July until November 2006. The play was a critical and commercial success, playing to full houses and collecting 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, playing the lead role of Dr. Jacob Hood in the CBS TV series Eleventh Hour.[1] He finished filming in November 2009 for the miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, which was shown on TV in 2010.[16]

In 2010, he played the Italian detective Aurelio Zen, based on the best-selling novels by Michael Dibdin, for the BBC One drama series Zen. The three episodes were filmed in Rome and shown on BBC One in early January 2011. The series was cancelled by the BBC after just one season.[17] He also had a small part in the film The Tourist, which also starred Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and was released in cinemas in 2010.[18] He played the lead vampire, Adam, in the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,[19] which was filmed in New Orleans and released in June 2012.[20]

Sewell played the role of Ethics Man in Darkside, Tom Stoppard's 2013 radio drama based on Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon.[21] Sewell co-starred with Dwayne Johnson, as Autolycus, in the film Hercules, which was released in July 2014.[22] In 2015, Sewell voiced the role of Sir Claude, a feral cat, in Blinky Bill the Movie. Sewell has most recently appeared as high-ranking American-turned-Nazi official John Smith in The Man in the High Castle,[23] and as Lord Melbourne in Victoria.

In February 2023, it was announced that Sewell had been cast as Prince Andrew in Scoop, a Netflix drama about Andrew's 2019 Newsnight interview, co-starring Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis, Billie Piper and Keeley Hawes.

Personal life

Sewell has been married twice. His first wife was his long-term girlfriend,[8] Australian fashion journalist Yasmin Abdallah; they were married in 1999 and divorced in 2000.[24] He married his second wife, scriptwriter and producer Amy Gardner, in 2004 [8] and divorced in 2006.[25] They have a son, William Douglas Sewell (born 2002). Sewell also has a daughter, Lola (born 2013), with Ami Komai.[26][27]

In December 2023, he became engaged to American actress Vivian Benitez.[28]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Twenty-One Bobby
1993 Dirty Weekend Tim
1994 A Man of No Importance Robbie Fay
1995 Carrington Mark Gertler
Cold Comfort Farm Seth Starkadder
1996 Hamlet Fortinbras
Victory Martin Ricardo
1997 The Woodlanders Giles Winterbourne
1998 Dangerous Beauty Marco Venier
Dark City John Murdoch
The Very Thought of You Frank
Illuminata Dominique
At Sachem Farm Ross
1999 In a Savage Land Mick Carpenter
Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence Frank
2000 Bless the Child Eric Stark
2001 A Knight's Tale Count Adhemar
2002 Extreme Ops Ian
2003 Victoria Station The cabbie short film
2005 The Legend of Zorro Count Armand
2006 Tristan and Isolde Marke
The Illusionist Crown Prince Leopold
Paris, je t'aime William Segment: "Père-Lachaise"
Amazing Grace Thomas Clarkson
The Holiday Jasper Bloom
2008 Downloading Nancy Albert
Vinyan Paul Bellmer
2010 The Tourist English man
2012 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Adam
Hotel Noir Felix
2013 All Things to All Men Parker
I'll Follow You Down Gabe
The Sea Carlo Grace
2014 Hercules Autolycus
The Devil's Hand Jacob Brown
2015 Blinky Bill the Movie Sir Claude (voice)
2016 Gods of Egypt Urshu
2019 Judy Sidney Luft
2020 The Father Paul
2021 Old Charles
TBA Scoop Prince Andrew


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Gone to Seed Billy 6 episodes
1992–94 Screen Two Mike Costain
2 episodes
1994 Middlemarch Will Ladislaw 7 episodes
Citizen Locke Midshipman Clarke Television movie
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Seth Starkadder Television film
Performance Harry Percy Episode: "Henry IV, Part 1"
2000 Arabian Nights Ali Baba Miniseries
2001 She Creature Angus Television movie
2003 Helen of Troy Agamemnon Miniseries
Charles II: The Power and the Passion Charles II 4 episodes
2004 Taste Michael Kuhleman Television movie
2005 ShakespeaRe-Told Petruchio Episode: "The Taming of the Shrew"
2006 9/11: Out of the Blue The Man Television movie
2008 John Adams Alexander Hamilton 2 episodes
2008–09 Eleventh Hour Dr. Jacob Hood 18 episodes
2010 The Pillars of the Earth Tom Builder 5 episodes
2011 Zen Aurelio Zen 3 episodes
2012 Parade's End Reverend Duchemin 3 episodes
Restless Lucas Romer 2 episodes
2015 Killing Jesus Caiaphas Television Movie
2016 Secret History Narrator Episode: China's Forgotten Emperor
2016–17 Victoria Lord Melbourne 7 episodes
2018 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Declan Howell Episode: Look, She Made a Hat
2014–19 The Man in the High Castle John Smith 40 episodes
2020 The Pale Horse Mark Easterbrook BBC1 Miniseries
2023 Kaleidoscope Roger Salas Miniseries
The Diplomat Hal Wyler Main role


Year Production Role Venue Ref.
1993 Arcadia Septimus Hodge Lyttelton Theatre, Royal National Theatre [29]
1995 Translations Owen Plymouth Theatre, Broadway [30]
2006–07 Rock 'n' Roll Jan The Royal Court Theatre, London [29]
2007–08 Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Broadway
2013 Old Times Deeley Harold Pinter Theatre, London
2015 Closer Larry Donmar Warehouse, London

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1994 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role Arcadia Nominated
1998 London Film Critics' Circle British Supporting Actor The Very Thought of You Nominated
2006 British Academy Television Award Best Actor of the Year ShakespeaRe-Told:
The Taming of the Shrew
2006 Evening Standard Theatre Award Best Actor in a Play Rock 'n' Roll Won
2007 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actor in a Play Won
2008 Tony Award Best Actor in a Play Nominated
2008 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Play Nominated
2008 Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
2016 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series The Man in the High Castle Nominated
2019 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Nominated
2024 Astra TV Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Series, Drama The Diplomat Nominated
2024 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


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  3. ^ a b Turner, Robin (7 March 2008). "Famous home on sale for owner to get a quieter life". walesonline.
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  5. ^ Films and Filming, vol. 10, issues 7-12, Hansom Books, 1964, p. 29
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  7. ^ "Rufus Sewell Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e Saner, Emine (8 December 2006). "Dark Star". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2023 – via
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  10. ^ " Article".
  11. ^ a b Cavendish, Lucy (10 April 2012). "The king of Rock'n'Roll". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  12. ^ Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts by Michael Winner, p. 269.
  13. ^ Leonard, Tom."I really don't want to play a baddie again." The Telegraph. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 26 May 2008.
  14. ^ a b "Rufus Sewell: Downloading Nancy". 4 June 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2023..
  15. ^ "Downloading Nancy". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  16. ^ "Three sign on for 'Pillars of the Earth'", The Hollywood Reporter, 8 June 2009.
  17. ^ Conlan, Tara (22 February 2011). "BBC1 axes Rufus Sewell detective drama Zen". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  18. ^ "産婦人科検診の内容 - 知っておきたい婦人科検診のこと".
  19. ^ Dickey, Josh (12 April 2011). "Rufus Sewell is top baddie in 'Vampire Hunter'". Variety. Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  20. ^ Filipponi, Pietro (30 March 2011). "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Set Pics ..." The Daily Blam!. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Pink Floyd album inspires Sir Tom Stoppard radio play". BBC. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  22. ^ McNary, Dave (21 March 2013). "Joseph Fiennes, Ian McShane Join 'Hercules' Cast". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  23. ^ Pringle, Gill (2 February 2017). "Rufus Sewell interview: 'My character is not a monster - he's a human'". Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  24. ^ Fox, Chloe (5 November 2003). "Cut and Thrust". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  25. ^ "Rufus Sewell Dumped By Wife". 2 January 2006. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  26. ^ Smith, Neil (22 December 2016). "Art role 'inconvenient' jokes Sewell". BBC News. Retrieved 19 August 2018 – via
  27. ^ Macdonald, M. "The Evening Standard", page 14. Associated Press, 2005
  28. ^ "Rufus Sewell, 56, engaged to actress Vivian Benitez, 26". BBC News.
  29. ^ a b "Rufus Sewell theatre profile".
  30. ^ Canby, Vincent (20 March 1995). "THEATER REVIEW: TRANSLATIONS; Linking Language and Identity In Friel Territory Long Ago". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 30 December 2023.