English actor Rufus Sewell was born on October 29, 1967 in Twickenham, a district in southwest London. His parents, both inclined into art—his father, an animator; his mother, an artist—divorced when he was five, and he had a difficult adolescence. A drama teacher spotted him and encouraged him to audition; he eventually got into Central School of Speech and Drama, where he performed in a play directed by Judi Dench; she later set him up with an agent.
Sewell broke through to prominence in 1993, when he starred in the West End run of Arcadia and in the British television adaptation to George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch. He became established in costumed dramas, having appeared in four programs based on Shakespeare’s work (the latest being a modern adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Television Award), and in other films such as Cold Comfort Farm, The Illusionist and Amazing Grace. Sewell is also known for his performances on stage: his appearance in the premiere run of Tom Stoppard’s play Rock ‘n’ Roll earned critical and commercial success, and earned him Best Actor awards from the Evening Standard Awards, Critics’ Circle Awards and Lawrence Olivier Awards. Sewell is also known for his portrayal of villainous roles, in films such as The Legend of Zorro, A Knight’s Tale and The Illusionist, and the miniseries Helen of Troy.
Sewell has only broken through the American television scene lately; the success he received in his films led to a role in the HBO miniseries John Adams. He also plays the lead role in the science-based drama Eleventh Hour, which is itself an adaptation of the original English drama starring Patrick Stewart. He plays the role of Jacob Hood, a top government science advisor who pursues entities that are out to use scientific knowledge for their personal gain.