Anne McAllister here. About this ‘Male on Monday’ slot. . . I didn’t grovel. Or beg. Or plead. I offered. Really. It was the least I could do.
Trish, Ally, Nic and Natasha are dreadfully overworked. Last week they didn't give us just one male on Monday. They gave us three! Their devotion to duty is obsessive. Next thing you know they’ll be falling behind on their deadlines, staying up all night, working their eyeballs to the bone ogling all these gorgeous men. We can’t have that.
So I did what any kindhearted, thoughtful, self-sacrificing romance author would do. I said, “Would you like me to take one of those arduous difficult Monday blog pieces off your hands? Give you a break? Spare you one week of having to track down yet another gorgeous hunk?”
And if I appeared to be drooling in anticipation, it was not because I always drool when I think about James Purefoy. Never.
Well . . . almost never.
However, as you can see, James Purefoy is a very tempting male indeed.
James first came onto my radar as Edward, the black prince, in The Knight’s Tale. There were, of course, other gorgeous men in that film -- Rufus Sewell. Heath Ledger. But the minute my gaze locked on the enigmatic Edward, I said, “Who’s he?”
And thanks to IMDB, I found out. As far as I was concerned they told the wrong knight's tale in that movie. But at least it woke me up, and I kept an eye out for James Purefoy after that.
With his dark good looks, ability to brood and smoulder, then turn on a toe-curlingly sexy grin and twinkling eyes, not to mention do a very nice love scene whenever required, he could have spent his whole career as a handsome leading man.
Instead he's been all over the acting map -- from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the cast of the sci-fi horror video-game film Resident Evil.
When he played the lead in a docu-drama Blackbeard, a man James calls, "the best pirate of all time . . . an extraordinary man who was really good at his job," he could have been speaking of his own career when he added, "You never quite knew what he was going to do next."
He played alcoholic Tom Bertram in Mansfield Park, the am-I-straight-or-am-I-not Irishman Brendan in Bedrooms and Hallways, the psychopathic rapist in Calling the Shots, Becky Sharp’s handsome besotted gambler husband in Vanity Fair, the sartorially elegant Beau Brummell in the BBC production of the same name, a conflicted soldier in Sharpe’s Sword, a self-absorbed actor in Maybe Baby, a dragon slayer in George and the Dragon, and, most recently, Mark Antony in the television series, Rome.
The breadth of his choices is by design.
He says, “I think if you want to have longevity in this business, then you have to do lots of different things . . . it's crucial to keep moving as it stops people putting you in boxes.”
So as Rome finishes, he is moving in a different direction yet again to a Showtime television pilot, Manchild, based loosely on the British series, in which he'll play Joe -- wealthy, virile and determined not to date any woman over 25 -- the unspoken leader of a group 40-something men in mid-life crises. It might be enough to get me to subscribe to Showtime!
And who is James Brian Mark Purefoy when he's not busy being all these other people?
Born 3 June, 1964 in Taunton, Somerset, he grew up in Somerset, goes back as often as he can, and says it's still the place he feels most at home. He was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, after which he worked two years as a porter at Yeovil District Hospital a job which he says opened his eyes to a great deal of the world he hadn't seen before.
After studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama, he spent two years with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since divided his time among theatre, film and television projects. Though he's never married, he had a long-time relationship with actress Holly Aird with whom he has a son, Joseph.
He says single parenting is "tough, but you just get on with it." Apparently getting on with it includes building a terrific treehouse for his son which he enjoyed so much he said he'd love to build more -- "just contact his agent."
Besides his obvious good looks and charisma, it's his very expressive face that makes me keep seeing my tall dark-haired heroes as characters James Purefoy might play.
His glib self-absorbed actor in Maybe Baby could have been one of my heroes before the heroine shaped him up. Rawdon Crawley's love for his son was so vivid I ached for him when they were separated in Vanity Fair. The personal anguish and final desperate honor he invested in Jack Spears in Sharpe's Sword were starkly visible and real.
He goes straight to the emotional core of characters. A self-confessed "blubberer" who can cry at commercials, he can find a humanity in characters who can seem brutal or crass.
The more I watch him, the more I add to my list of favorites -- small moments on screen in which James perfectly captures an aspect of a character -- his hopes, his dreams, his pain, his joy, his bemusement, his anguish, his delight, his despair.
It's research, after all. And they're all performances that make wonderful grist for the writer's mill.
And then, too, as Lucy Gordon said after seeing Beau Brummell, "He does strip beautifully, doesn't he?"
Er, yes. He did in Rome, too. And here. James-not-quite-in-a-towel. Wouldn't you know?
Definitely a man of many talents.
ps: the 'leftover' pix are on my blog.
Anne's upcoming release is: The Santorini Bride a February 2007 Harlequin Presents.
Check out more about this book at her website!
Or check out what Anne is working on now at her Blog.