Ralph Fiennes

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Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes retouched.jpg
Fiennes outside the Booth Theatre stage door in New York City, 2006
BornRalph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes
(1962-12-22) 22 December 1962 (age 51)
Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Alex Kingston (1993–1997)
Partner(s)Francesca Annis (1995–2006)
ParentsMark Fiennes
Jennifer Lash
RelativesJoseph Fiennes (brother)
Magnus Fiennes (brother)
Martha Fiennes (sister)
Sophie Fiennes (sister)
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Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes retouched.jpg
Fiennes outside the Booth Theatre stage door in New York City, 2006
BornRalph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes
(1962-12-22) 22 December 1962 (age 51)
Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Alex Kingston (1993–1997)
Partner(s)Francesca Annis (1995–2006)
ParentsMark Fiennes
Jennifer Lash
RelativesJoseph Fiennes (brother)
Magnus Fiennes (brother)
Martha Fiennes (sister)
Sophie Fiennes (sister)

Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (/ˈrf ˈfnz/;[1] born 22 December 1962), is an English actor. A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage in the Royal National Theatre.

Fiennes' portrayal of Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Schindler's List (1993) earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His performance as Count Almásy in The English Patient (1996) garnered him a second Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.

Since then, Fiennes has starred or appeared two films from DreamWorks Animation, that are The Prince of Egypt (1998) and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) , The End of the Affair (1999), Red Dragon (2002), The Constant Gardener (2005), the Harry Potter film series (2005–2011), in which he played Lord Voldemort, The Reader (2008), and Clash of the Titans (2010). In 2012, Fiennes played Gareth Mallory and later M in the James Bond film Skyfall and Magwitch in Great Expectations.

In 2011, Fiennes made his directorial debut with his film adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus, in which he also played the titular character. Fiennes won a Tony Award for playing Prince Hamlet on Broadway.

Early life and family[edit]

Fiennes was born in Ipswich, on 22 December 1962. He is the eldest child of Mark Fiennes (1933–2004), a farmer and photographer whose father was industrialist Sir Maurice Fiennes (1907–1994), and Jennifer Lash (1938–1993), a writer. He has English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry.[2][3] His surname is of Norman origin.[4]

Fiennes is an eighth cousin of the Prince of Wales, and a third cousin of adventurer Ranulph Fiennes and author William Fiennes. He is the eldest of six children, his siblings being actor Joseph Fiennes; Martha Fiennes, a director (in her film Onegin, he played the title role); Magnus Fiennes, a composer; Sophie Fiennes, a filmmaker; and Jacob Fiennes, a conservationist. His foster brother, Michael Emery, is an archaeologist. His nephew Hero Fiennes-Tiffin played Tom Riddle, young Lord Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

The Fiennes family moved to Ireland in 1973, living in West Cork and County Kilkenny for some years. Fiennes was educated at St Kieran's College for one year, followed by Newtown School, a Quaker independent school in County Waterford. They moved to Salisbury in England, where Fiennes finished his schooling at Bishop Wordsworth's School. He went on to pursue painting at Chelsea College of Art before deciding that acting was his true passion.[5]


Fiennes trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art between 1983 and 1985. He began his career at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park and also at the National Theatre before achieving prominence at the Royal Shakespeare Company.[4] Fiennes first worked on screen in 1990 and then made his film debut in 1992 as Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights opposite Juliette Binoche.

1993 was his "breakout year". He had a major role in the controversial Peter Greenaway film The Baby of Mâcon with Julia Ormond, which was poorly received. Later that year he became known internationally for portraying the amoral Nazi concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. For this he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[4] He did not win the Oscar, but did win the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA Award for the role. His portrayal as Göth also earned him a spot on the American Film Institute's list of Top 50 Movie Villains. To look suitable to represent Goeth, Fiennes gained weight, but he managed to shed it afterwards.[6]

Fiennes later claimed that playing the role had a profoundly disturbing effect on him.[7] In a subsequent interview, Fiennes recalled,

Evil is cumulative. It happens. People believe that they've got to do a job, they've got to take on an ideology, that they've got a life to lead; they've got to survive, a job to do, it's every day inch by inch, little compromises, little ways of telling yourself this is how you should lead your life and suddenly then these things can happen. I mean, I could make a judgment myself privately, this is a terrible, evil, horrific man. But the job was to portray the man, the human being. There’s a sort of banality, that everydayness, that I think was important. And it was in the screenplay. In fact, one of the first scenes with Oskar Schindler, with Liam Neeson, was a scene where I'm saying, "You don't understand how hard it is, I have to order so many-so many meters of barbed wire and so many fencing posts and I have to get so many people from A to B." And, you know, he's sort of letting off steam about the difficulties of the job.[8]

Ralph Fiennes with Eddie and Gloria Minghella at the 2011 Minghella Film Festival

In 1994, he portrayed American academic Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show. In 1996 he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the World War II epic romance The English Patient in which he starred with Kristin Scott-Thomas.[4] Fiennes' film work has ranged from thrillers (Spider) to animated Biblical epic (The Prince of Egypt) to campy nostalgia (The Avengers) to romantic comedy (Maid in Manhattan) to historical drama (Sunshine).

In 1999, Fiennes starred in the legendary role of Eugene Onegin in Onegin, a movie which he also helped produce. His sister Martha Fiennes directed and brother Magnus composed the score.

The Constant Gardener was released in 2005 with Fiennes in the central role.[4] The film is set in Kenya, dealing in part with real people in the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalani. The situation affected the cast and crew to the extent that they set up the Constant Gardener Trust to provide basic education for children of these villages. Fiennes is a patron of the charity.[9]

He is also a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.[10]

Fiennes portrayed Lord Voldemort in the 2005 fantasy film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He kept the role for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2.

Fiennes' 2006 performance in the play Faith Healer gained him a nomination for a 2007 Tony Award. In 2008, Fiennes worked with frequent collaborator, director Jonathan Kent, playing the title role in Oedipus the King by Sophocles, at the National Theatre in London. In 2008, he played the Duke of Devonshire in the film The Duchess, and played the protagonist in The Reader.

Fiennes in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2003 during his visit as a UNICEF UK ambassador.

In February 2009, Fiennes was the special guest of the Belgrade's Film Festival FEST. He filmed his version of Shakespeare's Coriolanus in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.[11]

Fiennes reunited with Kathryn Bigelow for her Iraq War film The Hurt Locker, released in 2009, appearing as an English mercenary. They had previously worked together on Strange Days (1995). In April 2010, he played Hades in Clash of the Titans, a remake of the 1981 film of the same name. In 2012, he starred in the twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. He will replace Dame Judi Dench as M in future Bond films.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Fiennes is a UNICEF UK ambassador and has done work in India, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Romania.[13]

Fiennes met English actress Alex Kingston while they were both students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After dating for ten years, they married in 1993. They divorced in 1997.[14]

In 1995, Fiennes began an affair with Francesca Annis, whom he met when she played his mother Gertrude in the play Hamlet.[15] After 11 years together, the couple separated in February 2006.[15]



1990Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia, AA Dangerous Man: Lawrence After ArabiaT. E. LawrenceTelevision film
1991Prime SuspectMichael (a victim's boyfriend)Television series
1992Emily Brontë's Wuthering HeightsHeathcliff
1993Baby of Mâcon, TheThe Baby of MâconBishop's son, TheThe Bishop's son
Schindler's ListAmon Göth
1994Quiz ShowCharles Van Doren
1995Strange DaysLenny NeroNominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
1996The English PatientCount László de Almássy
1997Oscar and LucindaOscar Hopkins
1998Avengers, TheThe AvengersJohn Steed
Prince of Egypt, TheThe Prince of EgyptRameses II
  • Nominated—Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
1999SunshineIgnatz Sonnenschein
Adam Sors
Ivan Sors
OneginEvgeny OneginAlso executive producer
End of the Affair, TheThe End of the AffairMaurice Bendrix
2000Miracle Maker, TheThe Miracle MakerJesus ChristVoice role
2002SpiderDennis "Spider" Cleg
Good Thief, TheThe Good ThiefTony AngelUncredited
Red DragonFrancis DolarhydeNominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Maid in ManhattanChristopher MarshallNominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Liplock
2005Chumscrubber, TheThe ChumscrubberMayor Michael Ebbs
ChromophobiaStephen Tulloch
Constant Gardener, TheThe Constant GardenerJustin Quayle
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-RabbitLord Victor QuartermaineNominated—Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
White Countess, TheThe White CountessTodd Jackson
Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireLord VoldemortNominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Villain
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
2006Land of the BlindJoe
2007Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixLord VoldemortScream Award for Best Villain
2008Bernard and DorisBernard Lafferty
In BrugesHarry WatersNominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
Duchess, TheThe DuchessWilliam Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire
Reader, TheThe ReaderOlder Michael Berg
2009Hurt Locker, TheThe Hurt LockerContractor Team Leader
2010Cemetery JunctionMr. Kendrick
Clash of the TitansHades
Nanny McPhee and the Big BangLord Gray
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1Lord Voldemort
Wildest Dream, TheThe Wildest DreamGeorge Mallory
2011Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2Lord VoldemortPeople's Choice Award for Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Scream Award for Best Villain
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated—Scream Award for Best Ensemble

Nominated—IGN Award for Best Ensemble Cast[17]
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Page EightAlec Beasley
Rev.Bishop of LondonTelevision series
CoriolanusCoriolanusAlso director and producer
Nominated—Golden Berlin Bear for Best Director
Nominated—BAFTA Film Award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
Nominated—British Independent Film Award for Best Debut Director
2012Wrath of the TitansHades
SkyfallGareth Mallory/M
Great ExpectationsMagwitch
2013The Invisible WomanCharles DickensPost-production
2014The Grand Budapest HotelM. GustavePost-production
Two WomenPre-production
2015Bond 24MPre-production


Selected television credits[edit]

Selected other projects, contributions[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]



  1. ^ "Person Page 18418". thePeerage.com. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2008. 
  2. ^ "Ralph Fiennes Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2008. 
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000146/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  4. ^ a b c d e James Lipton interview with Ralph Fiennes on Inside the Actors Studio
  5. ^ Ralph Fiennes on Veritaserum.com
  6. ^ Cagle, Jess (1994-03-04). "It's Pronounced 'Rafe Fines'". Ew.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  7. ^ 09:00 – 09:45 (31 October 1999). "Desert Island Discs – Castaway: Ralph Fiennes". BBC. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "Voices on Antisemitism | Transcript". Ushmm.org. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Constant Gardener Trust – Patrons". UNICEF. Retrieved 10 April 2008. 
  10. ^ http://ssf.uk.com/patrons/ralph-fiennes
  11. ^ Coriolanus (2010) at IMDb
  12. ^ "Skyfall, James Bond, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2012
  13. ^ "Ralph Fiennes, UNICEF UK Ambassador". UNICEF. Archived from the original on 14 February 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2008. 
  14. ^ Ellen, Barbara (7 July 2002). "Intensive care". The Observer (UK). Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Ralph Fiennes Splits from Longtime Partner". People. 8 February 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Ralph Fiennes Emmy Nominated". Emmys.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  17. ^ "2011 IGN Award for Best Ensemble Cast". IGN. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 

External links[edit]