Rupert Penry-Jones and Daniel Lapaine.

When Daniel Lapaine and Essie Davis were fellow students at NIDA in the early 1990s, one less arduous element of the course was fencing lessons.

Neither could have imagined, all these years later, they would be jousting again in Every Cloud Productions’ Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears.

Lapaine plays rich aristocrat Lord “Lofty” Lofthouse, an old friend of Essie’s Phyrne Fisher, in the Tony Tilse-directed murder-mystery/adventure/romance, which opens on Thursday.

Phyrne and Shirin Abbas (2016 VCA graduate Isabella Yella), a young Bedouin girl whom she rescued from prison in Jerusalem, go to the UK to stay at the manor owned by Lord and Lady Lofthouse (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Lofty’s younger brother Jonathon (Rupert Penry-Jones).

“It was great fun to play a character who has a high opinion of himself, a good-time boy who likes a drink, which can get him into trouble,” the London-based actor tells IF.

“Lofty has a sometimes hostile relationship with Jonathon – they are always at each other – and family secrets are revealed. My character is a bit of a doofus compared to him.”

In one scene the brothers engage in a not-so-friendly bout of fencing, for which Daniel had to take lessons.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” he says. “Of course Phryne Fisher is an expert fencer so she’s not one to mess around with. It was both familiar and funny to step back and have a fencing competition.”

Daniel Lapaine as “Lofty” Lofthouse.

Straight after graduating from NIDA in 1992, Essie and Daniel spent a year touring Australia in the title roles in Bell Shakespeare’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Strangely, they had not worked together again until the Miss Fisher movie.

Cate Blanchett was in the same year at NIDA, a year which the school’s then director curiously declared to be its “worst ever,” recalls Lapaine, who appeared alongside Blanchett in the ABC rural doctors drama G.P. in 1994.

Lapaine broke through playing the South African swimmer David Van Arckle in P.J. Hogan’s Muriel’s Wedding.

Based in the UK for 20 years, he was a regular on the UK comedy Catastrophe alongside Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney and in the ITV dramedy The Durrells.

His extensive movie credits include Zero Dark Thirty, Brokedown Palace, Last Chance Harvey and The Merchant of Venice.

This week he started filming the second series of Hoodlum Entertainment/Network 10’s Five Bedrooms.

Check back tomorrow as Daniel discusses what he describes as the “longest comeback” in Australian screen history.

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