A Conversation With Rufus Hound (Part 2)

For my first interview of the year, I managed to snag myself a pretty good one, if I do say so myself. I was lucky enough to be able to ask Rufus Hound, known best in the Whoniverse for playing Sam Swift in The Girl Who Died alongside the Twelfth Doctor, and also as playing the Monk for Big Finish against the Second, Third, Fourth, and Eighth Doctors. Let’s see what he had to say, shall we?

In this part, we talk about working with Peter Capaldi and Maisie Williams, auditioning to someone who doesn’t believe you can act, and jumping up and down in a car park…

When you were offered the part of Sam Swift, how did you react? 

I was filming a taster for a motorbiking show that some friends of mine were trying to get made. Spoiler: It never got made. But I was in a car park in North London when the call came in and I basically jumped up and down in the middle of this car park with everyone thinking I was a nutter for two minutes.

What are you favourite memories of working alongside Peter, Jenna, and Maisie?

I didn’t really work with Jenna, but my favourite memories of working with Maisie, who I certainly spent the majority of my time with, were just the fact that we mucked about quite a lot, and I think there’s some stuff on YouTube. The Doctor Who Confidential lot gave me a camera, so it gave me an excuse to make Maisie do quizzes. The mucking about on set between takes would have been my favourite memory of working with Maisie. (You can watch two videos of Rufus and Maisie on set here and here.)

My favourite memory of working with Peter was actually, it was his birthday around that time, and he had family around, so it wasn’t like we hung out afterwards or anything like that; but on set, watching him between takes, work out better ways to deliver the material that he was delivering. I don’t know if people have gone on about this a great deal, but the whole point of Capaldi’s Doctor is that, he feels like he’s meant to have died by now, and that he’s got all these split personalities, and the fractured nature of who the Doctor is, is kind of busting out of him. So he very deliberately puts different stresses on different words to sound more like Tom Baker, or more like Hartnell, or more like Troughton. He’ll do that over the course of three or four lines; there’s all these little homages to what’s gone before, his previous selves, he can’t quite contain them. Which just felt to me like a masterclass in how to be a character as complex as the Doctor. So, my favourite memory of working with Peter was getting a chance to work with an actor who is as jaw-droppingly brilliant and smart and who truly understood the weight of the part he was playing. It was really inspiring.

Did you have to audition for the part of Sam Swift? If so, what was the audition process like? 

I didn’t have to audition for the part of the Monk, I was incredibly grateful, and fortunate that that was just a straight offer. But the part of Sam Swift I absolutely had to audition for. That came of came about in a funny way; the casting director for Doctor Who (Andy Pryor) has been the same since Russell T Davies rebooted it, and Russell wrote a part in Cucumber for Channel 4, that he had me in mind for. Again, I couldn’t be more grateful, I had no idea why or how that happened, but it did, and my gosh am I ever grateful for that. He actually called that character Rufus, and he went to his casting director and said “I would love it if Rufus Hound could do this”. Previously, I had my agent phoning to see if there was anything at all I could do on Doctor Who, and the casting director very much took the view that I was a stand-up, not an actor, and therefore I had no business being on his show, and I can understand why that would be the case; but because Russell asked for me specifically on Cucumber, I then had to go and audition for the part that Russell had written for me, on the grounds that the casting director didn’t think that I was up to it. I went and auditioned, and it went well, and I was offered the part of Rufus in Cucumber, and, very kindly on my request, they changed the name to Rupert, so it felt like it wasn’t me, so it wasn’t a cameo. I worried that if I turned up as Rufus that people think it’s meant to be me, instead of a character.

But after that, when the next series of Doctor Who came up, I’d kind of already proven that I was up to it, and the character of Sam Swift seemed to be a good fit, and I was duly offered it.

Join us next time, where Rufus talks about playing the Monk for Big Finish!

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