Alas, like many of us, he's now past his peak of freshness, but I still felt a familiar little shiver when he appeared on screen, playing an assistant detective trying to track down the anti-fascist rebel, V.
I first became aware of Rupert when I was in graduate school, during those tumultuous first months of my coming out process.
Knowing that I was very depressed by gay-themed movies that focused on young men heroically battling AIDS (and face it, there were a LOT of those in the early 90's), a friend suggested that I watch the movie Maurice, based on the E.M. Forster novel.
In Maurice, Rupert Graves plays Scudder, the cockney gamekeeper who becomes the lover of the deeply repressed and haughtily aristocratic Maurice. I was at least as struck by Scudder's beauty as the stuffy Maurice was. (It didn't hurt matters that Rupert was willing to do several full frontal nude scenes. I deeply appreciated his commitment to the role.)
The moment when Scudder climbs a ladder to reach Maurice's room in the dark of night remains one of my favorite scenes in cinema. (Though in my experience, hot men don't simply climb into your window for a passionate tryst without the promise of substantial remuneration.)
Rupert (and his exposed bits) next caught my eye in A Room With a View, a film I just watched again last week on HDVD.
Upon meeting the (nearly) equally delectable Julian Sands, Rupert utters my favorite line in the film, "Fancy a bathe?"
Moments later, the gorgeous young chaps are frolicking together like water sprites, splashing, wrestling each other, and having a gay old time, as it were. It's all rather breathtaking. (The addition of the roly-poly Mr. Beebe, does little for me, however.)
Again, these easy moments of carefree nude male companionship are not part of my personal experience, so the scene always makes quite an impression on me, leaving me wistful for warm ponds in the English countryside.
Rupert is also a delicious morsel in yet another film based on an E.M. Forster novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread. His attraction to the darkly handsome young Italian, Gino Carella, is palpable, but alas, Rupert keeps his clothes on for the duration of the movie, and the homo-erotic subtext never becomes, um, text. (By the way, Judy Davis turns in a stellar performance as an acerbic bitch in this film, a feat she would later repeat in the biting comedy The Ref.)
It made me a bit sad to see Rupert in V for Vendetta. Don't get me wrong--he's still a fine looking man. But he has lost that painful beauty that so gripped me when I first laid eyes on him. See for yourself.
Would I refuse to dance if he asked me to tango? No, of course not. But sweet young Scudder is gone for good.
Thank god for Jake...