Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ralph Fiennes Appreciation

By Sati. Saturday, December 22, 2012
Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes
December 22, 1962 (Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK)

Today is the 50th (!) birthday of one of my absolute favorite actors - Ralph Fiennes. The only thing longer than his real name is the list of the outstanding performances he has given over the years - it was actually hard to choose only 10. His work as Amon Goeth in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List is my number 3 on the finest performances of all time list. In addition, his performance as Harry in In Bruges is one of the funniest things I've seen in my life.

Fiennes has a very rare and uncanny ability to make the bad guys and grotesque villains look human. In Red Dragon he played demented serial killer, yet in his scenes with Emily Watson's character you could really sense that there is also kindness and vulnerability in his character. In Duchess he played Keira Knightley's terrible husband yet in one scene, where he took her hand near the end of the movie, you saw that he really cared about her, regardless of what happened and didn't want her to suffer. And then there is his master work as Goeth - Nazi, sadist and a man torn between his duty and love for the Jewish maid.

Sometimes he goes all out - like he did with his Voldemort, which is probably the performance for which the younger crowd recognizes him best. Still, there is so much thought in this work - the way the iconic villain moves, the way his mood swings from eerily calm to extremely furious. Fiennes's work as Voldemort was definitely best in the first Harry Potter he appeared in - Goblet of Fire - where you could really see the crazy ambition and sadistic nature of this villain. And let's not forget his Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights - he is so bad, but who could resist?

But Fiennes doesn't just play villains - in fact, he is just as great playing good guys. His performance in The Constant Gardener, where he played calm, shy man trying to uncover the truth about the death of his beloved wife, broke my heart into tiny, pathetic pieces. And then there is Quiz Show, which wouldn't be half as great without Fiennes's thoughtful and compassionate performance of a man who is defeated by his own ambition and the desire to impress those around him. I adore his work in Strange Days - where he is so laid back, which really isn't a word that I usually use to describe his characters. And he managed to be good even in something as mediocre as Maid in Manhattan, where he played the modern Prince Charming.

Though Fiennes appeared in some horrible movies, especially Avengers, at one point I actually wondered if he consults psychics when he chooses his movies. He has appeared in so many films that were in Oscar races, often even winning - like with The English Patient and Schindler's List. He even randomly popped up in the middle of the desert in another Best Picture winner - The Hurt Locker. Fiennes himself remains without Oscar, which is long overdue.


10 favorite films:
Schindler's List
Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows part 2
In Bruges
The Constant Gardener
Quiz Show
Skyfall
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Strange Days
Red Dragon
The End of the Affair



10 favorite performances:
Schindler's List
In Bruges
The Constant Gardener
Quiz Show
Wuthering Heights 
Strange Days
Red Dragon
The End of the Affair
Spider
The Duchess



10 fun facts:
  • His name is pronounced "Rafe".
  • His performance as Amon Goeth from his film Schindler's List was ranked #15 on the American Film Institute's Villains list in their compilation of the 100 years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains.
  •  Fiennes designed his own dentures for Red Dragon.
  •  8th cousin of Prince Charles.
  •  Good friends with Jay-Z.
  •  Huge fan of Professional Wrestling.
  •  Has shared two roles with Peter O'Toole. They have both played Hamlet on stage, and both made their film debut playing T.E. Lawrence.
  •  When he noticed that children watching the filming were scared of him as Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he knew he had the character right.
  •  He and his brother, Joseph Fiennes, have both worked with Cate Blanchett (Oscar and Lucinda (1997) and Elizabeth (1998)), Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener (2005) and Enemy at the Gates (2001)) and Liv Tyler (Onegin (1999) and Stealing Beauty (1996)).
  •  The Hurt Locker marks the third best picture Oscar winning film that Ralph Fiennes has co-starred in. In addition, the other two, Schindler's List (1993; Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee) and The English Patient (1996; Best Actor Oscar nominee), were also dramas set during wartime.

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29 comments:

  1. My goodness, 50!

    He's my favourite villains-playing actor. He just makes them that much more believable and creepy and excellent.

    Love him in Schindler's List, love him in In Bruges, Red Dragon and as Voldie. Seeing him pop up in a film is a real joy, for eg. Skyfall.

    Happy birthday indeed.

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    1. I know, right? Can't believe he is 50!

      Absolutely, I think the fact they are never one dimensional caricatures makes them so believable.

      I completely forgot he was going to be in Skyfall and when he showed up I was so happy. Hope he comes back in next 007 movie.

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  2. Wow... I wonder who is his favorite wrestler? The "Nature Boy" Ric Flair? WOOOO!!! The Rock? Stone Cold Steve Austin? The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith? Wade Barrett?

    I would hang out with this guy.

    Spider is my favorite performance from him so far. I loved him as Lord Voldemort. His arrival in The Goblet of Fire is truly an unforgettable moment.

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    1. When I was researching trivia I was laughing so hard, this is so random that he likes wrestling, is Prince's Charles's cousin and he is friends with Jay-Z :P

      He was fantastic in Spider, such a heartbreaking performance.

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  3. He doesn't look fifty although I read or even heard an interview with him a while back where he talked about approaching this number.
    PS: Red Dragon's role by Fiennes is probably the most conflicted villain ever.. I hated him because of the killing and yet, like you said, some scenes made me feel like he didn't deserve to die and I felt sorry for him If an actor can portray something like that, then we should throw love at him! More love for Fiennes!

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    1. I completely agree. Plus Red Dragon script wasn't even strong, yet all of those actors rise it to the level of good movie. Fiennes's character was so amazing and I don't think anyone else could have played him better.

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  4. He can't be fifty!! How do all these people age so wonderfully?
    He scared me so much in Schindler's List, so brilliant, and he is probably the best thing in Red Dragon (I don't actually hate the movie as much as people seem to, but it's definitely no Silence of the Lambs).
    Haha, good friends with Jay Z - random :P But awesome!

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    1. I really don't know. First Pitt, now him...this is crazy ^^

      Yeah, Silence is so much better but I actually really enjoyed Red Dragon.

      That one really cracked me up :P

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  5. Happy Birthday! Ralph Fiennes is my favourite actor of all time; incredible and unspeakable acting skill and charming.

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    1. Glad he is your favorite! Such an incredibly talented actor.

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  6. He's a beautiful man! But he'll always fill me with fear after Schindler's List. Constant Gardner is also one of my favourites of his.

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    1. He really is! Glad to read you liked Constant Gardener, it's such a powerful film.

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  7. Awesome post, Great to see some individual recognition of people like Fiennes and Pace on your blog :) I am ashamed to say that I haven't seen Schindler's list yet, but I'm planning on remedying that soon!

    P.S. LOVE those lines from In Bruges, definitely one of my favorite appearences by ser Ralph

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    1. Thank you! Oh, Schindler's List is definitely the one to see - it's heartbreaking, beautiful and amazingly well made movie.

      He was so hilarious in In Bruges! I loved all of his outbursts :)

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  8. He's a brilliant actor! Schindler's List and In Bruges are my favorite performances as well. His performance in Coriolanus is also worth mentioning.

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    1. I still haven't seen Coriolanus, really need to check it out soon!

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  9. OMG, I love this guy so much. Seriously, have we had anyone else with such a consistently great filmography recently? I still need to see Coriolanus, but I'll probably explode from the fact that he and Jessica Chastain are in it. He's really good in everything he's in (granted I haven't seen Avengers). I'm glad you pointed out Strange Days - that movie deserves more love!

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    1. I haven't seen Coriolanus yet either! I have it on DVD but for some reason I didn't watch it, I don't know what's wrong with me ^^

      Actually he wasn't that bad in Avengers, the movie was terrible but it was not Ralphie's fault ^^

      Strange Days is such an awesome and unique movie, more people should see it!

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  10. Hello Sati, I'm back! :D Ooooh what a treat to see an appreciation on the gorgeous Mr Fiennes. He definitely lives up to his name as he's so fine ;) His eyes definitely suck you in. Strange Days is not my fave performance of his but he's absolutely beautiful in that film, it's worth a watch just to ogle him, ahah.

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    1. So glad to have you back! Check out my Christmas post, there is something there for you! :)

      Oh he looks terrific in Strange Days, plus I was so happy he was playing relatively normal guy in this one :P And that ending kiss! Goodness!

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  11. Awesome post! He is definitely one of my favorite actors of all time. I love the way you described his ability to humanize the villains he plays. And how have I missed seeing him in an adaptation of Wuthering Heights?? If anyone can make me "get" what she saw in Heathcliff, it's him!

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    1. Thank you! He was so terrific in Wuthering Heights, definitely the best part of the movie. The adaptation was so-so, but he was the perfect Heathcliff.

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    2. Oh well, for me the novel was only so-so, so it's unlikely that I'll be disappointed. I do love many of the classics, but Wuthering Heights isn't among my favorites.

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    3. Oh, then I think you may like it :) I think the film does a good job capturing the creepy mood of the novel, which was probably my favorite thing in the book ^^

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  12. Awesome spotlight, Sati! Hard to believe Fiennes is 50 years old, and even harder to believe that he has never won an Oscar! That's just unbelievable.

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    1. I know, right? He had so many great performances and the fact he didn't won for Schindler's List is just outrageous.

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  13. Ralph Fiennes is my favorite actor. His performance in Schindler's List was an absolute treat... He portrayed the character beautifully and it really is hard to believe that such a talented actor did not win an Oscar!

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  14. I'm glad someone wrote this. This is perfectly on poiny with my opinions of him. I was also a Pace fan, actually I started with Michael Fassbender. Then Tom Hiddleston. And then I saw this man's performance as Harry Potter. I honestly thought he's a complete CGI and not an actor because of the perfection of Voldemort's character. Then I started seeing his other movies. I was not disappointed. His varied roles only attest to his greatness as an actor. GOD I LOVE HIM. Someone give this man an Oscar's :'(

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