Rupert Graves Online.
Media Bank

1997 - Getting "Intimate" With Actor Rupert Graves.

Author: Nina Davidson.
Publication: Hollywood Online.

BEVERLY HILLS - Rupert Graves, soft-spoken and unassuming in person, revels in the chance to play outlandish characters on the screen. In the black comedy "Intimate Relations," he plays a young man seduced by his landlady -- and her teenage daughter.

In the modern romance "Different for Girls," he plays a rough-and-tumble messenger who falls in love with a transsexual.

His brown hair scruffy and shoulder-length, Graves slouches in a lavender button-down, tossed over a grey T-shirt. The British actor discusses his extroverted roles at the Four Seasons Hotel while in the United States to promote his two latest, and very different, films.

"I like things which take me away from myself," he said. "If I do stuff which is more like myself, my natural embarrassment comes out, and I can transcend it by putting somebody else's shoes on."

Graves, 34, certainly has had his share of adventure in his own shoes. Leaving school at the age of 15, he ran away from his hometown of Weston-Super-Mare to join the circus as a clown. After odd jobs working in a shoe factory and a fish-and-chips shop, he turned to acting in 1986.

His first role was as upper-class Freddy Honeychurch in the critically-acclaimed Merchant Ivory production of the E.M. Forster novel "A Room With a View."

After a string of historical dramas including "Where Angels Fear to Tread" and "The Madness of King George," Graves itched at the chance to star in more contemporary fiction. "Different for Girls" charts new territory in the romantic comedy genre when Graves falls in love with Kim (Steven Mackintosh), formerly known as Karl.

"I liked, with 'Different for Girls,' the really sensual dilemma, the whole confusion of sexuality that was brought up in that," he said. "He's a heterosexual, finding himself falling in love with an old male school friend, who's a post-operative transsexual who's now a woman. Society doesn't give you a modus operandi for dealing with that."

Another character who does not know how to operate in society is Harold Guppy, the disturbed leading man in "Intimate Relations." Graves won the Best Actor Award at the 1996 Montreal Film Festival for his portrayal of Guppy, who becomes a pawn in the manipulations of his landlady, Marjorie Beasley (Julie Walters).

"Because he was in reform school, which is kind of like a kids' prison, he became very institionalized. Then he went straight from that to the navy, which is again another institution, and literally had no way of dealing with other people or society in general," he said. "He always had very strict rules, and a really small place to live. Very few possessions, very easy to look after.

As soon as he gets out into the wide world he has his own desires, and other people's desires, and he doesn't know how to operate, I don't think, and became very, very suggestible. Also, he was looking for a family and looking for a mother figure since he'd been rejected, which made him just ripe for plucking."

"Intimate Relations," based on a true story of a lascivious landlady who seduces her handsome male boarders, takes place in the repressed era of 1950s England. Graves said he did not approach the film differently from a purely fictional piece.

"If you do a film or a drama based on a true story, it's still a drama," he said. "It's not the actual thing, you're kind of exploiting an event. I don't think it's morally reprehensible, I don't have a problem with it.

You do feel a sense of responsibility when you're playing somebody because you don't want to be too cavalier or disrespectful."

©1997 Hollywood Online.