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Rupert Evans: Sharing the limelight

Rupert Evans
Rupert Evans

It’s been a stellar year for Rupert Evans, but the modest Brit maintains fame isn’t on his radar.

“I don’t really think about it much if I’m honest,” muses the polite 40-year-old actor. “I just do an actor’s work.

“From time to time there are a few people who notice me, but I’m certainly not in the Dr Who sphere, if you know what I mean, so I don’t have to worry about that too much.”

As we speak, Evans is preparing to fly back to Vancouver to reprise his lead as Frank Frink in the second series of Amazon epic The Man In The High Castle.

“You caught me packing; I’m literally moving stuff right now,” he confesses down the phone.

“I’m used to it though. I’ve got a system, and taking down the suitcase is a sort of ceremonial thing for me now.”

He’s quite the multi-tasker, it seems, as he doesn’t once lose his train of thought.

“I’ve read through the first couple of scripts and it’s really exciting to see what they’re going to do with the characters. The ideas they’ve got are pretty spectacular,” he reveals of the dystopian alternative-history series, which is listed as the most-watched series on Amazon’s streaming service.

“The second season is also great because everybody knows each other and knows what they’re doing a bit more now.”

Proud to be part of a show that’s a key marker in shifting viewing habits, he adds: “It’s a really interesting time for TV. The way people watch it is changing – and the way that the Internet is going means you’ll be able to watch everything when you want to watch it.

“I don’t know when it will all settle, or where it will all get to, but it seems as though streaming is the way forward.”

Starting out with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Evans has long been a VIP of the stage world; but it was Hellboy, Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 adaptation of Mike Mignola’s comic book series, which marked his big-screen debut and triggered a move into the realm of TV and film.

Twelve years on and the Staffordshire-born actor continues to fly the British flag, most recently in director William Brent Bell’s latest thriller, The Boy.

“It’s got a bit of everything,” says the handsome star.

“It’s a psychological horror with a great twist, and the great thing about the movie is they’ve left the best bits for the film, rather than showing them all in the trailer.”

Set in the damp and foggy English countryside (although the film was shot entirely on Vancouver Island in British Columbia), The Boy tells the unsettling story of Greta (Lauren Cohan of The Walking Dead fame), who leaves her troubled past in the States to take a job as a nanny for an eight-year-old boy.

However, in true horror story style, all is not as it seems, and she’s in fact been hired by an elderly couple to care for Brahms, the creepy life-sized doll they treat like a real child. As Greta ignores the rules then begins a tentative flirtation with dishy local deliveryman Malcolm (Evans), Brahms becomes increasingly disturbing and inexplicable events start to occur.

Having flexed his horror muscles in 2014 film The Canal, Evans confesses he’s a fan of the genre – “I do like a bit of a jump and a gasp” – but his involvement as an actor depends wholly on the story and good use of characters.

“There’s a real backstory in The Boy, which you begin to understand through flashbacks,” says Evans, who landed his part after a video audition. “The film has a depth to it, and it’s about loss and tragedy as much as anything else.”

So how did he feel giving up the lead to make room for an inanimate object?

“It was really, really weird,” he exclaims, breaking into laughter.

“I was concerned, at first, whether we could convince the audience that this doll had a character, but honestly, it started to have one all of its own, with the lighting and the way they used the camera.

“There were actually two of them, and each one had a very small difference in expression. They had these weird coffins that they would sleep in at night – like a Dracula box.

“Sometimes it was joked that he (Brahms) was asking for too much and was the highest paid and all that, which he probably was.

“Brahms became one of us though; it was all very odd but good fun.”

Next up for Evans is Ewan McGregor’s directorial feature film debut American Pastoral. Based on Philip Roth’s Pulitzer-winning novel, the story follows Seymour ‘Swede’ Levov (McGregor), whose seemingly perfect life shatters when his daughter rebels by committing a deadly act of terrorism during the Vietnam War.

Starring alongside Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning, Evans plays McGregor’s younger brother.

“It was the first movie Ewan’s directed and he’s also starring in it, so he would do every scene and then run off to watch it and come back,” he recalls of working with the Scottish star.

“He was the kindest and most generous director. Because he’s an actor, he understands actors. So with his director’s hat on, he was really good at being open to ideas, being very changeable and trying different things.

“I’m really proud of the film.”

Declaring he’s spent more time in Canada and America in the last year than in Britain, will the humble actor give into the pull of Hollywood, and consider a more permanent move from his current base in London to sunny LA?

“I don’t know,” Evans replies, hesitating. “I love America, but it depends… I just go where the work is.”

The Boy is in cinemas now.