Born in the British town of Shrewsbury, Mr Rayner spent part of his childhood in the US with his American-born mother, before returning to Norfolk and then Durham in the UK to study. He went on to complete a two-year course at drama college in London. Since then he has featured in the likes of Doctor Who (being killed by a giant wasp), starred alongside Ms Jada Pinkett Smith in the American medical drama Hawthorne, and has just completed playing a doctor in popular UK comedy Miranda. Interrupting Mr Rayner's day off and double espresso, we talk espionage, inspiration and style.
This fall, 10 years after his professional stage debut, the UK-based Mr Rayner plays a steely operative in the eagerly anticipated, stylish television spy drama Hunted. Co-stars include the rather delightful Ms Melissa George (Grey's Anatomy), Mr Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones), and Mr Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost). Created by The X-Files' Mr Frank Spotnitz for TV heavyweights HBO and the BBC, it's a project that seems tailor made for a rugged actor with eclectic experiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
CLICK CLICK CLICK FOR MORE PICTURES, INTERVIEW + TRAILER!!!
You've just finished filming for Hunted. What's it about?
It's a spy show that takes place in the world of private intelligence, security and espionage - which is on the rise in the geopolitical game. What used to be just government intelligence agencies is now a free for all with private companies getting involved. It's an interesting world to explore. You're not working for Her Majesty's government or queen and country any more - you're working for the highest bidder.
What's your role?
I work alongside the lead girl, Sam Hunter, played by Melissa George. I run her in the field. She's our main operative and I have to step in to get involved in the operation.
Did you have to do much research?
We managed to find a private company that was prepared to advise the show. One of the operatives came in - a former MI6 agent - and gave us a spying tutorial. Obviously I grew up pretending to be James Bond like most young boys so it was a great thrill to get an insight into that world.
So, what did you learn?
You'll be very disappointed, unfortunately. It's not about dashing around looking great in a dinner suit; it's about being completely forgettable. Most intelligence work is number crunching and data analysis, so 90% of "spies" are just working at desks. It's about blending in completely. You wouldn't tell your partner or closest friends, so the circles you move in are totally to do with intelligence gathering. It's kind of claustrophobic.
What originally fired your acting ambitions?
When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of all the classic movie stars - Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Harrison Ford, Robert Redford. I really identified with these heroic characters. When I got older, I was into people such as Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton, who represented a slightly more cerebral, theatrical, yet hell-raising aspect of the job. Also, when I did a lot of student theatre at university, I met a lot of people from public school backgrounds. They tended to have a great sense that they can do whatever they like. Being around the attitude, "We are the bright young things", was very useful.
Do actors think about their style off set?
I'm more of a classic man than cutting-edge fashion. I like a more conservative look, not a million miles away from what I wore in the MR PORTER shoot. Sometimes I've had to wear some ridiculous stuff so it was nice to wear clothes that I'd feasibly wear in real life. In a lot of shoots you look like a clown. Suit jackets and overcoats is what I go for.