Xavier Samuel sinks teeth into diverse new film roles
SIX years on from his international breakthrough in The Twilight Saga as a bloodthirsty vampire, Xavier Samuel has carved out diverse career for himself.
The Victorian-born actor can currently be seen on the big screen starring opposite Kate Beckinsale in director Whit Stillman's acclaimed period comedy Love & Friendship.
"It's not often you get to work on a film of this nature and also a Jane Austen story that hasn't been brought to the screen yet," he tells APN.
"Coupled with the fact that Whit doesn't make films very often, I feel very lucky to be involved in the project."
In the film, an adaptation the Jane Austen novella Lady Susan, Samuel plays Sir Reginald DeCourcy, who is the latest target of the widow Lady Susan Vernon in her mission to find wealthy husbands for herself and her daughter.
"Kate's character is such a brilliant mastermind; she's this diabolical, ruthless character and there's something sheepish and foolish about Sir Reginald in that he thinks he's the one who's going to win in this exchange or that he's got her figured out," he says.
"The film is set at a time when women are being constrained and she's sort of beating the system. She's smarter and more intelligent than the system she's born into. She's doing all of these manipulative things… and you sort of cheer for her. That's due not only to the writing but how charming Kate Beckinsale is."
Samuel agreed that being seduced by the actress every day on set was "a pretty tough gig".
"Kate's got such a wicked sense of humour and an amazing command of language," he says.
"She's such a great mind and formidable force to face off against, when you work with someone of that calibre it raises the bar and you hope a bit of that magic rubs off on you."
Samuel admits he felt nerves about following in the footsteps of other Austen actors such as Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant.
"It's such a well-trodden path. A lot of great actors have worked on Jane Austen and done it brilliantly," he says.
"It's kind of intimidating. You want to get it right."
The 32-year-old has spent much of the past 18 months working on Australian films, with no less than six upcoming projects in the pipeline.
He anchors directors Tim Ferguson and Marc Gracie's outback comedy Spin Out, due for release in September.
"I don't think you could get further away from Austen if you tried," Samuel laughs.
"It's a screw-ball romance comedy in the vein of His Girl Friday where the lovers get up to all sorts of antics."
Samuel is currently in Melbourne promoting another film, The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, which had its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Thursday.
The actor understands why it has been compared to Memento and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but insists it's like neither film.
"It's a very simple love story but the framework is abstract I suppose," he says.
"It's about a guy who experiences time in reverse, so he's already experienced the future and the past is unknown to him. He doesn't age differently.
"He's like the man who fell to earth. They can't work out why he's like this. When he meets this psychoanalyst, she's meeting him for the first time but he's already spent an entire life with her. It's actually really sad because that meeting is him saying goodbye to her but it's the first time she's met him. The film generates all these weird situations you can't even imagine."
Samuel's other upcoming films include the Banjo Paterson biopic Banjo & Matilda, Bruce Beresford's drama Mr Church, the buddy comedy A Few Less Men (sequel to A Few Best Men) and the thriller Bad Blood.
Love & Friendship is in cinemas now. Spin Out opens on September 15.