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He is played 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 classassociates. 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. 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.
- He shares a name with famous vampire, Lord Ruthven, the main antagonist of the novel and opera Der Vampyre. Despite this Captain Ruthven doesn't live to become a vampire himself.
- His rape of Carla is taken in a more disturbing light, as there is the implication that she could be his biological daughter.