In last week’s premiere episode of “Victoria,” we learned that although the young Queen is eager to show those around her that she can handle the responsibility of leading a nation, she still needs guidance. Enter: Lord Melbourne, the British Prime Minister who would make it his mission to mentor Queen Victoria.
Substantially portraying Lord Melbourne in “Victoria” is 49-year-old veteran actor, Rufus Sewell. With a lengthy career that includes memorable roles in films like “A Knight’s Tale,” “The Holiday” and “The Illusionists,” Sewell has become known as an actor capable of taking on characters we can love, or love to hate.
When he was presented with the script for “Victoria,” Sewell quickly became intrigued by what he was reading.
“When I received the script for ‘Victoria,’ I was midway through the first season of ‘The Man in the High Castle.’ That character [in the latter] is very complex, he suddenly inhabits the darker realm and he’s the ideal version of one stereotype, one typecast, which I decided to embrace and go as deep as I could. Suddenly on my doorstep arrives this other typecast that I used to battle with—the brooding Victorian lord,” recalled Sewell in an interview with Bazaar.
“I read it and thought, ‘You know what? I am so lucky to still be considered for this kind of role,’” he continued. “When I got this script, I realized that I not only identified in some way with Melbourne, but I just really liked him, which for me is not always the case. Often the job for me is to try to shine light on something dark or to try to find nuance in something that might seem kind of one-note on paper. That was not the case with Melbourne.”
Although it was easy for Sewell to gain a deep appreciation for Lord Melbourne, he did have initial concerns that the character wasn’t complex enough. But, the more Sewell dug into the life and times of Lord Melbourne, he soon found himself engrossed in the individual.
“One of my vague concerns when I read the script was that he seemed to conform to so many echoes of literary types that we’ve [already] seen,” explained Sewell. “I thought, if [their relationship] really was this interesting, wouldn’t we know much more about it? I was slightly suspicious that he had been souped up for this kind of composite character.
“So I read everything I could and found out that he was so interesting and wonderful,” added Sewell. “I just couldn’t get enough of him after a while. Even if in reading a whole book you only get one glimmer of something useful, A) you’ve read a wonderful book – if you’re lucky, anyway – and B) that tiny, tiny, tiny thing could be the thing that unlocks [the character] for you and brings it closer to home and makes it real for you.”
This week on “Victoria” (Tuesday, April 11 at 8pm ET/5pm PT): Melbourne’s resignation as Prime Minister leaves Victoria devastated; as the ambitious Conroy and her uncle Cumberland scheme against her, the vulnerable Queen devises a risky plot to get Melbourne back. But her stubborn approach threatens to ruin the foundations of the monarchy.