On the track of the Hound
RUFUS Hound isn't one for half-measures. Not satisfied with a sprinkling of facial hair, he grew a full handlebar moustache. Not content with a runaround car, he opted for the roar of a Triumph motorcycle. And not one for a traditional English wedding, he jetted off to Las Vegas to tie the knot in an Elvis-themed ceremony.
The funnyman married Beth Johnson, whom he first met while working at the Reading Festival in 2007, after a whirlwind four-month courtship.
"When you know, you know," explains Rufus. "In the week building up to the wedding I made a website explaining to people, 'This is super-fast and you'll think we're crazy, but we know this is the right thing'.
"We got married and it was all streamed live over the web with our loved ones watching at home. Then we went straight from the Little White Wedding Chapel to the tattoo parlour next door and called our parents while we were getting each other's names tattooed on our arms, because we're very, very classy people.
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"In this virtual way we really did have this pan-global wedding, which was just awesome. We wouldn't have had it any other way."
Rufus' nuptials couldn't be more different from those depicted in his new film, The Wedding Video. The comedian plays loveable layabout Raif, who is asked to be best man at his brother Tim's lavish wedding to Saskia, and decides his gift to the couple (played by Peep Show's Robert Webb and Bad Teacher's Lucy Punch) will be a video of their big day.
Raif's camera captures every moment as planning of the event gets hijacked by Saskia's socially aspirant mother and the budget spirals upwards – think fly-pasts, a magazine photoshoot, and even a unicorn.
"I think that if a wedding comes with a £250,000 price tag then you have to ask yourself, how much more special is the day than the love you two share?" says Rufus.
"I think a lot of people buy into that celebrity culture and think, 'oh if I get married and don't have a horse-drawn carriage I'm not really doing it properly', whereas actually, the people I know who are happily married and love each other, often have tiny little weddings without much hoopla."
Rufus – whose real name is Robert Simpson – has a CV full of high-profile stand-up gigs and appearances on shows such as ITV2's Celebrity Juice and BBC One's Let's Dance For Sport Relief, which he won in 2010 with an uncanny rendition of Cheryl Cole's Fight For This Love.
But despite the prime-time TV experience, the 33-year-old admits he was "pretty terrified" about his first major film role in The Wedding Video.
"I've done little bit parts for friends and I did a kids' show where I played the lead (CBBC's Hounded), but I was always playing Rufus Hound," he explains.
"This was a chance to do something that was a bit more clearly a job of acting. Having met Nigel Cole (director) and Tim Firth (writer) and all the guys making the movie, it just became more and more exciting until eventually doing it was just the happiest I've ever been at work.
"You start with the excitement of being in a movie where the script was already good, so I was turning up every day wanting to bring my A-game, then it became clear from talking to Nigel that what he wanted was this very realistic style. He would say, 'Less, always less'."
Rufus took the "always less" approach literally for a scene that required him to strip off in front of a group of tourists – refusing all manner of blush-sparing cover-ups in favour of full nudity.
"There was some talk of, 'you can do this thing where you put this thing on' and I was like, 'honestly, it doesn't bother me. We're all adults, let's just crack on'," he says.
"I'm someone who will get my kit off pretty much on request. I think somebody with my body shape should be permanently parading around naked in front of people so everyone knows, 'all right, at least I'm not that guy'."
Rufus does a fine line in self-deprecation and witty asides. But speak to him for just a few minutes and it becomes clear he's utterly serious about his career.
The proud dad, who lives with his "incredibly supportive" wife and their two children Alby, four, and Hilda, one, in the leafy south west London suburb of Hampton, is keen to take on challenging roles.
"I read about Mark Rylance being back at the Globe and I think it would be incredible to work with some of the real actors, some of the guys who live it, breathe it," he admits.
"There are actors out there who just surpass what it is to play somebody else."
Rufus' biggest statement of intent about his fledgling acting career has been to shave off the moustache that helped make him famous.
"I'm about to do One Man, Two Guvnors on national tour, and there's no way Francis (the role made famous by Tony Award-winner James Corden) would have a big American handlebar moustache," he explains, rubbing his cheek.
"So the Hulk Hogan's gone for a while. I might grow it back at some point. The business of playing other people seems to be easier if you don't look exactly like everybody thinks you look."
Rufus isn't quitting the small screen, however, and recently filmed a pilot gameshow for ITV2.
He explains: "It's a big silly entertainment show: old school, shiny floor, four members of the public competing as a team to win a holiday. But it's all about how well they know each other and we created a show that I just think is kind of magical. I'd love to be at the helm of something people haven't seen before, which this show would be."
He adds: "Everything I've done has really been because I think, 'that might be fun or that might be worth a go or let's try that'. It's the quest for new experiences really, and the opportunity to have a crack at things."
The Wedding Video is out in cinemas now.