Rufus Sewell is the guy you most likely recognize as “that British bad guy” from one of his many theatre, television, or film projects. With the trademark British accent that marks villains in most American movies (damn you Revolutionary War!!) blue eyes, black hair, and cheekbones that could cut glass, he was the guy you loved to hate in A KNIGHTS TALE, THE LEGEND OF ZORRO, THE ILLUSIONIST, MACBETH and more. Now, you can find him as Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith a dedicated soldier in A MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE on Amazon.
On the show Sewell’s character may be a soldier who hunts down rebellions, but this is not just another villain role for him, he finds this character much more interesting than that. It’s not the things the character does, but how the character as a person can rationalize it.
“He believes in protecting his family at all costs. I don’t think he has a feeling of advancing up the ladder for the sake of it. What I try to steer away from is the idea that he is an evil person, and I think the key to him, and what’s interesting to me about playing him is that he is a man with many, many good qualities and many dangerous qualities, like any human being. “
It’s how these qualities are processed that makes this character fascinating to explore for Sewell.
“The idea that is interesting to me is that people find the narrative to convince themselves that what they are doing is good and right. He is the dark version of the everyman. He’s tried to construct an idealism, and a story for himself where he is a hero. Sometimes he is shaken by self-doubt, but some people can be driven on by self-doubt. I think he embodies a conflict.”
As someone who has been at times typecast as the baddie, this part had to be more than
“To be perfectly honest, living in the real world sometimes I hold out for the greatest part in the world and you can be unemployed for a really long time. For this, when I read the pilot I wasn’t interested because he is marching up and down corridors, and everyone he is talking to is hanging upside down by chains, so there’s not a lot. Once I saw he had been I wasn’t as interested, especially having tried to make it work and failed, as far as I am concerned, about playing straight out bad guys. So I was going to say no, but then they showed me a script from episode two, and there was a scene with his family and a scene from his perspective and a scene from being attacked. I believed Frank (Spotnitz) when he told me that this was someone who in a different world would have been a different guy, and to see the cracks in that and see the conflict. It was that conflict that made me realize all of my frustrations about being continually cast as people wanting me to play just bad guys; I could make my greatest argument against that by playing this guy. “
No worries though, he does have something that doesn’t have him as the villain coming up next as well.
“After this I did a thing called VICTORIA, that’s going to be on Masterpiece in January and I play just a really nice guy. For me I would have liked that part at any point, but straight after this, for me it really does have a nice balance.”
If you haven’t seen the first season of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, you have time to marathon it now on Amazon. The second season is currently being filmed and is scheduled for release on December 16th of this year. For more information go to www.Amazon.com