Cheat Sheet: Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton Wykeham Fiennes
Date of Birth:
22nd December 1962
Place of birth:
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Actor, director, Shakespearean, Dark Lord
Schindler’s List, The English Patient, The Constant Gardener, Harry Potter (various), Coriolanus
What you probably already know:
Assuming for a second that the literate and/or movie-going population of the English-speaking world can be wholly defined using a Venn diagram of a) Shakespeare fans and b) Harry Potter fans, everyone knows Ralph Fiennes. As one of the most noted Shakespeareans of his generation (second only, perhaps, to Kenneth Branagh), Fiennes has presided over adaptation after ground-breaking adaptation of the Bard’s back catalogue, mostly in theatre but with some notable onscreen exceptions (hello, Coriolanus!) And when he’s not declaiming and learning speeches with lots of ‘thou’s in them, he’s Lord Voldemort. Simple, really.
So simple, in fact, that it’s easy to forget just what a stunning CV Fiennes really has. His growly face and willingness to play absolute bastards has seen him appear in some of the most acclaimed and culturally significant dramas of the last twenty years, including The English Patient (nine Oscars), Schindler’s List (seven Oscars) and The Constant Gardener (one Oscar, which is frankly outrageous). Whether he’s playing Nazis, dark wizards, Jesus or a brutal gangster with a grudge against telephones (“YOU’RE AN INANIMATE FUCKING OBJECT!”), Ralph Fiennes is in line to take over from Gary Oldman as the best British actor never to have won an Oscar.
What you might not know:
This might seem a simple place to start, but you’d be amazed how many people get it wrong – it’s not RaLph, it’s RaIf. Seriously, do you think a man with middle names like Nathaniel, Twisleton and Wykeham would have a name like Ralph? We bet that pisses him off no end, there’s no point in having a ridiculously posh moniker if nobody uses it. Another thing which probably pisses Raify boy off is having people think he’s just a stock villain, when actually he’s been more than willing to appear in shit non-dramatic films galore – it might not be polite to mention this, but the man was in Maid in Manhattan. And that ghastly Avengers remake. And Clash of the Titans, MY GOD! If there’s one thing that says ‘fire your casting agent’, it’s playing Hades opposite Liam Neeson.
Now his part in probably* the biggest franchise ever has finally drawn to a close, the way is clear for Fiennes to return to his first passion – the proscenium arch. He’s on record as saying that if a gun was put to his head he’d choose theatre over cinema, and with last year’s acclaimed performance as Prospero in Trevor Nunn’s The Tempest (as well as a Tony for his 2007 turn as Hamlet) under his codpiece we’re hoping for some more thrilling live performances. As well as an inevitable reappearance as Voldemort 2 in Harry Potter: The Return of The Bastard Baldy, obv. So long as he stays away from John Steed’s bowler hat…
Ralph Fiennes quote:
“When theatre becomes a soothing middle-class thing, when it’s packaged as the Night Out, then that’s the death of it.”
What to say at a dinner party:
“Having proven himself as a first-class director with Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes has equipped himself with a full arsenal of skills for use behind and in front of the camera as well as onscreen. With any luck he’ll start composing his own scores next!”
What not to say at a dinner party:
“Look, it’s pronounced Ralph and that’s an end to it.”
We can’t wait to see what Ralph Fiennes directs next. We’d just like him to not star in it, please.