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Your mother, your mother stole something from me. Now I'll steal something from her. My disease has no cure. When I'm finished with you, you'll be a child no longer. Look at me!
~ Captain Ruthven before raping Eleanor Webb.

Captain Ruthven is one of the main antagonists of the vampire film Byzantium, alongside Savella. He only appears in the flashback sequences as he is dead by the present day narrative. He is a Naval Captain who also works as a pimp who sets his sights on Clara Webb.

He was portrayed by Johnny Lee Miller.


The films narrative is told in present day, but some of the story is story, revealed in a series of flashbacks over the course of the film, focusing on the origins of mother daughter protagonists, Carla and Eleanor Webb.

During the Napoleonic Wars, sixteen year old low born, Clara encounters two Royal Navy officers, Captain Ruthven and Midshipman Darvell. Much to the dismay of Darvell, Clara leaves with Ruthven, who forces her into prostitution. It is shown that Carla is the latest in a line of girls that Ruthven has kidnapped, raped and forced into prostitution, all for his amusement. Ruthven decides Carla is his favorite and has her regularly beaten and raped, and even has her gang raped by his upper class associates. When Clara's daughter Eleanor is born in 1804, Clara leaves her at the local private orphanage, and secretly visits her at night.

Years later, Clara is dying of what appears to be tuberculosis when the brothel is visited by Darvell, who has become a vampire. He gives Ruthven a map to an island where people can become vampires if they are willing to die. Clara cheats Ruthven out of immortality, shoots Ruthven in the foot, steals the map, and makes her way to the island and becomes a vampire herself.

Shortly after, Clara's decision to spare Ruthven comes back to haunt her when the vengeful, syphilis-ridden Captain turns up at Eleanor's orphanage and drags her down to the basement to rape her. Clara brutally murders him, but she is too late; Eleanor is now condemned to a slow, painful death from syphilis. Desperate to save her daughter's life, Clara takes Eleanor to the island and has her transformed into a vampire, violating the Brethren's code. The Brethren begin hunting Clara and Eleanor.


Captain Ruthven is horrible even by the work standard. He is a sadistic, misogynist and psychopathic official who likes raping young women to whom he preyed on and put them on prostitution. Although he is a military official, he doesn't seem to care much for any of his fellows but he displays a special hatred for Darvell, stealing all his things for himself when he thinks he died. He has fear of the death and wants immortality when he learned he has syphilis.

When he retrevied Eleanor knowing she is Clara's daughter, Ruthven raped her knowing she would be at risk af having syphilis just to spite her mother. This proves he is only a depraved monster with wholly no redeeming qualities.


  • His rape of Carla is taken in a more disturbing light, as there is the implication that she could be his biological daughter.