Rufus Sewell Arrives at Tony Season With a Trio of Awards in Tow

Tony Awards   Rufus Sewell Arrives at Tony Season With a Trio of Awards in Tow British stage and screen star Rufus Sewell had just arrived in New York May 13 to promote his upcoming television series "Eleventh Hour" when he "got an e-mail saying, 'Congratulations.'"
Rufus Sewell in Rock 'n' Roll.
Rufus Sewell in Rock 'n' Roll. Photo by Joan Marcus

"I knew it was coming up at some point, but I'd been trying to put it out of my head," Sewell recently said about the announcement of the Tony nominations. The actor received his first Tony nomination for his work in the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll. Sewell notes that at the time of the Tony nominations, he was the only actor whose production was not currently running on Broadway. "It's a different thing," he says. "A lot of time has passed. It's come at the same time in New York as some very [strong performances]. In London there were some extraordinary performances, [so] I was very lucky in London."

Call it luck or skill: For his work as the Czech rock fanatic Jan, Sewell earned the Olivier, Evening Standard and London Critics Circle Awards for the West End premiere of the Stoppard drama.

"I'm a lot more philosophical about it now," he muses on his Tony nomination. "Whenever they say 'the nomination is enough,' I sneer, 'Yeah right.'" However, the British actor is enjoying the moment, adding, "Actually, I kind of genuinely feel that at the moment."

Stoppard's dramatic debate on communism – Rock 'n' Roll –is punctuated with music that would make any rock enthusiast's list, including songs by John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Plastic People of the Universe, Velvet Underground, and the Grateful Dead. Sewell, who is also a musician and plays drums, notes that although his tastes aren't exactly in line with Stoppard's, he is very much "a fan of bands like the Velvet Underground."

Was there a musical selection missing in Rock 'n' Roll for Sewell? "David Bowie never got mentioned, and that was always a problem for me, because I was always a big Bowie fan and still am."