dorothea casaubon


Many are those who discovered (or rediscovered) Rufus Sewell in ITV’s hit historical drama Victoria as Lord Melbourne, the Queen’s Prime Minister.

Today I want to talk about five roles in which I admired Rufus’s work, and the reason I chose these five specific roles is that they are completely opposed from one another.

Petrucchio in The Taming of The Shrew: In this segment of multiple revisits of Shakespeare classics by the BBC, Rufus Sewell plays the role of Petrucchio, an extravagant character who somehow falls in love with a (too) strong-tempered MP, Katherine…who is going to accept to marry him. The thing is, Petrucchio has a thing for wearing women’s clothing and dared showing up at his own wedding wearing a skirt, heels and makeup. The film is rather short but filled with comedy and portrays in a very unique way marriage and how two people who really love each other will not compromise their true persona in order to please the other. However, Katherine’s marriage to Pettruchio does in fact « tame » her a bit.

Aurelio Zen in Zen: In this three-part BBC adaptation of the novel written by Michael Dibdin, Rufus is a talented Italian detective full of principles investigating the most dangerous cases in Italy. At first glance, we think of him as this accomplished man in his thirties full of poise who has everything to be happy, when in fact, he still lives with his mother and has a disastrous personal life going through a divorce after his wife cheated on him. That is until he meets and falls in love with Tania Moretti, a fresh face at work. Despite the Italian criminal landscape filled with violence and ruthlessness, Aurelio Zen remains pretty pacifist, only using his talents as a communicator to solve cases, a trait that makes him even more endearing and respectable. 

John Smith in The Man In The High Castle: In this Amazon series, Rufus portrays the powerful role of John Smith (Obbergruppenführer). The character has everything to be antagonistic at first glance - He is a Nazi leader operating in the name of Hitler within the established Reich in New York City. However, as the episodes and the story progress, the character is painted as more layered: we see the man beneath the uniform who in fact, is an ordinary man, blessed with a loving wife, children and a beautiful house. That is until his son is diagnosed with an incurable disease. At the time, such a diagnosis would have been subject to euthanasia. Having recently binge-watched the new season which got released on Amazon last December, I was not disappointed at all. Seeing more of John Smith’s personal life and the great lengths he went to in order to protect his family and himself was an emotional whirlwind. Not to spoil those who are not caught up yet, let’s just say that it seems like the third season will take the Smiths down to another spiral.

Ross in Uncorked (At Sachem Farm): In this little indie movie, Rufus is Ross, an aspiring musician who feels like his family should be priority over his ambitions, leading him (and us)  to reflect on what is actually important. It conveys a positive and moving message on how happiness solely depends on you and your priorities. Should you embrace your dreams and live to the fullest or stay stuck in the past and be focused on things you have no control over?

Will Ladislaw in Middlemarch: In this early BBC adaptation of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Rufus plays Will Ladislaw, a brilliant and passionate creative young spirit, willing to fight for what is right. He eventually falls in love with a woman supposedly out of his league, Dorothea Casaubon. However, they challenge each other and reveal themselves quite similar to one another.

Were I to choose a favorite out of these five roles, I would go for Ross, simply for how relatable and realistic the character and the story are.

Rufus Sewell is currently performing at the Old Vic Theatre in London as Serge in the play Art, which I am quite excited to see soon before it closes.