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Sexily sinister and dangerously good-looking, this cool, confident character is set to make it all the way to the top. To say Bruce Payne is a good actor is like saying Fred Astaire is a good dancer. Roles as the fascist aggressor in Absolute Beginners and the computer security expert in the TV-play Smart Money have ensured a spotlight for this charismatic, prize-winning RADA graduate.
Currently to be seen in Nemesis (part of the Miss Marple TV series) and in the movie Solarbabies, 26-year-old Payne is on the verge of stardom. With mock modesty, he disclaims his special presence, but his staged expressions with furrowed brow and flash of perfect, even, white teeth show he is fully aware of the effect - especially on women. Mention Bruce Payne to any aware young female and the phrase "sinister sex appeal" will crop up again and again. After constantly being delivered portions of brainless brawny boys, it's refreshing (and exciting) to see such a strong, sexual and intelligent performer. Like all smart, sharp and talented actors, Bruce Payne is a manipulator. The techniques he learned at drama school have resulted in a fine performance, whether he's acting on stage or talking to an acquaintance on the street. He uses his tall, tanned, lithe frame expressively and with controlled energy to illustrate a point; and his voice, always deep, ponderous and confident, to create a favorable impression or drive home an opinion with force. A conversation with Bruce Payne is interrupted by meaningful pauses mixed with head-throwing, teeth-flashing hearty laughs, guaranteed to send you reeling. It's an impressive act.
Although one feels Payne has been acting since he leapt from the womb, he was a relatively late starter. He was confined to bed for months and out of action for two years when, at the age of 15, it was suspected he had spina bifida. It was only then he began to consider acting. "In that time I did a lot of thinking. I toyed around with the idea, but I wasn't sure if it was me." Neither was anyone else when he broached the subject. "Most people said: 'Sleep on it. You'll wake up feeling all right!'" When Bruce finally awoke from his long illness he was told of a place at the National Youth Theatre. "I thought this might be the testing of the water. But as always I took the unusual approach. A much quicker way was to go to a film set and see what it was really like. So I paid a few visits to Shepperton and sat in on the filming." Inspired by what he saw, Payne then went on to do two seasons at the National Youth Theatre and a season at the Edinburgh Festival. "All the time I was auditioning for drama schools," said Bruce, whose approach to most things is an academic one, RADA soon followed.
Acting is now an essential ingredient in his life. He approaches it with care and an interest verging on obsession. "Everything I'd ever been interested in was to do with chemistry, whether it was physics or marine biology. The chemistry of people, and acting in particular, was a natural progression."
Bruce's faith in his body's ability to keep pace with time is an indication of the faith he has in himself. Bruce has also learnt how to make the best of himself professionally as well as physically. Behind those dark brown eyes is an inner strength that's almost frightening. Quiet determination has always been a Payne hallmark but it seems that getting by and getting his own way have come relatively easily. "I don't see life as a fight, I just do what I do."
Payne the actor is currently making the most of his talents, converting his theatrical knowledge into writing. He spent Christmas in LA checking out an already growing interest in a screenplay he's written. Penned last year and influenced by his role in Operation Julie, it's a "drug story". His trip was "laying seeds" for a prospective dual career. "I never envisaged myself as a writer - I was always too physical to be that disciplined! But I think there's a nerve ending there for everyone. Recently, I've just picked up on it."
It's a throwaway comment. He tells me it's just something he's trying, but it's obvious Bruce is excited about his new venture. The illusion is one of indifference, the demeanour cool and controlled, but fierce ambition and a taste for success fire his enthusiasm and any failure would be taken to heart. That radiant smile masks extremely sharp teeth. Dangerous and dangerously good-looking, his sexy appeal may make him a star, but it's the force behind the sinister side of Bruce Payne that will ultimately ensure his success.
Source: Cosmopolitan 1987