He’s talked about the death of his illustrator father (he was ten at the time), the poverty-stricken childhood (“we were arty but poor – we were on free school dinners”), the wayward teens (“I’d be late for school and because I couldn’t work out a good excuse I’d bunk off – it was pretty standard stuff”), the fear of being typecast. Now all journalists want to hear is the same old stuff, regurgitated in a slightly different combination of words. So when he voices his frustration – “lazy journalists, they’ll read stuff and get a quote then ask the same question again hoping I’ll say a similar thing; it’s very tiresome” – I’m immediately on my guard and a conversation that was trotting along rather nicely becomes stilted.
Most recently seen on stage alongside Kristen Scott Thomas in Harold Pinter’s Old Times and, before that, in the television adaptation of William Boyd’s spy drama Restless, Sewell is probably still best known for playing Will Ladislaw in the BBC’s adaptation of Middlemarch.
Dark curls, piercing eyes and chiselled features: Rufus Sewell’s face should be his fortune.
The plot is a globe-trotting affair, set in New York, London, Paris and Mexico, and most of it was filmed in South Africa.
But there was no danger of Sewell feeling homesick – at least not for Britain. I don’t do a lot of parties and I don’t spend a lot of money.” His one extravagance, he admits, is travel.
And if the actor’s own estimation is anything to go by, it’s going to be special.
“This is much more than goodies versus baddies,” he enthuses. You couldn’t hope for a better script and it’s been great to have a big part in it, with really good actors.” Could he be referring to Sir Michael Gambon?