With many prestigious roles under his belt, this fine actor is flying the British flag. Rupert Evans tells us about how he keeps sane while working in one of the craziest industries.
Which role do you feel defines your career so far?
People often mention the feature film Hellboy. The Director, Guillermo Del Toro, took a real gamble on me. I was a complete unknown, having just finished my theatre training. I found myself in the company of great actors like John Hurt. He particularly took me under his wing and I learnt a huge amount just watching him on set. However, for me personally, I look back on the role of Romeo at The Royal Shakespeare Company as a time in my life where I learnt the most and seemed to develop many of my ideas about acting as a vocation during that year long commitment. That experience, with its ups and downs, defined my process and continues to inform my working life now.
Can you describe your working practice, how do you “become” a character?
Every actor has a different approach. Some will tell you “not to overthink, relax and remember it’s not like we’re saving lives”. On the other hand the great Dustin Hoffman is quoted as saying “the three most important elements to an actor are: preparation, preparation, preparation”. Both arguments have a place. I could sit here and write a completely boring list of things that I do and why, when a role comes in. But in truth it is very dependent on the role and where I am ‘in my head’, as it were, at the time. However, there are always some fundamentals: the key, for myself, is to feel utterly engaged in the world of the character and the character himself. When you walk on stage or on set and your character, for example, is in 1920′s Derbyshire (as it is in my current job), a huge amount of work goes into feeling confident and knowledgeable of that time and place. It’s as though it is part of your DNA. It is hoped that whatever happens (within the scene) or whatever another actor does; you are able to react and respond in a truthful way. When actors come together, well prepared, with the sole purpose to create a story, sometimes something magical happens. It is those rare moments we all chase. Like rainbows, they are few and far between but worth running after.
Do characters leave a mark on the actor when the job is done?
I think every job leaves its mark. Some parts are less demanding or perhaps closer to you and others a much bigger jump or further from your own identity. Looking at it another way – every role I’ve done has a part of me in it. And that can be hard to confront. Recently I finished an Irish indie film called The Canal. It’s a thriller/horror. A play about a guy who perhaps killed his wife and others… Imagining that and understanding him was hard and it took me many months to feel myself again. But as I said before, it’s a great job and no complaints.
Where do you escape to for solitude?
For solace and solitude I am a regular walker, primarily Scotland. I try to get to the Highlands at least once a year. I’m in two minds whether to tell you guys this, as it’s a jewel of a trip…but what the hell: take the sleeper train from Euston to Fort William. Then another smaller train to the coastal town of Malaig. From there take the daily boat to the village of Inverie in Knoydart. You can only get there by boat, there are no roads in. It has a wonderful pub and a few lodges to stay. Walk around the surrounding hills with no phone connection, no TV, no email but just the sky, the mountains, fresh air and the odd stag and rabbit. I have had the good fortune of travelling the world with my job and I can conclusively say that it is still my place of choice. It is nothing short of paradise. You will not be disappointed, I promise.
How do you keep sane and grounded?
In short, see above answers. However, recently I have dipped my toe into the world of the Yogo retreats. Many will frown at this type of first world, new age, holiday. But after ten days I felt more sane and happier than I’d felt for a long time. Going with a friend really helped and it wasn’t too military either! Some smoked after a day on the mat. In truth there was a morning and afternoon session and the rest of the day was yours. This particular retreat was in Formentera, an island just off Ibiza. It’s truly beautiful and very quiet in April and May. I will go again for sure.
Whose career or talent do you most admire?
Talent is a funny thing. I’m still not sure what it is. We are all talented aren’t we? Some make their focus sport, others card tricks. The point is to enjoy it all. So when I see an actor doing something that I would never have thought they would attempt, they affect me. I’m their fan for life. People like Albert Finney, Kevin Spacey and Juliet Stevenson to name but a few…
Interview and photography by Andrea Vecchiato
Grooming by Amanda Bell
Styling by Alexa Pearson