Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes is a British Irish actor, director and producer. He is best known for his award-winning performances in Schindler’s List and The English Patient, as well as his role as Voldemort in the Harry Potter film series. In this biography, Fiennes tells his story in his own words.

Ralph Fiennes Bio: Age, Early Life, Family, and Education

Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 (Ralph Fiennes age: 56) to parents Mark Fiennes and Jennifer Lash. The couple proceeded to have five more biological children – Joseph, Martha, Sophie, Magnus and Jacob – and adopt a foster child named Michael Emery. All seven were encouraged to pursue the arts by their novelist mother and photographer father. Notable relatives of Fiennes’ include Charles, Prince of Wales (an eighth cousin) and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, a nephew who played the younger version of Fiennes’ character in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

WATCH: Ralph Fiennes’ Exclusive autobiographical uInterview

The Fiennes family resided in Ipswich, Suffolk, England until 1973, when they moved to Ireland. Fiennes attended school first at St. Kieran’s College and later at Newton School. When his family returned to England, he completed his primary education at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury. Fiennes went on to study painting at Chelsea College of Art in London before transferring out to pursue acting.

Fiennes studied acting for two tears at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before launching his theatrical career. He got his start at Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, London, before joining the Royal National Theatre in 1987. A year later, he broke center stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company as a noted interpreter of Shakespearean works.

Ralph Fiennes Bio: Early Career

Fiennes first appeared onscreen in the 1991 TV movie A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia. The next year, he played Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, his first feature film. Fiennes fully caught the public eye in 1993 as a lead in Peter Greenaway’s controversial movie The Baby of Mâcon.

Though this film was widely criticized, public opinion on Fierres shifted once Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List made its debut later in 1993. Fierres’ performance as Nazi concentration camp leader Amon Goeth earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He also received the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA Award, a British Academy Award, and a spot on the American Film Institute’s list of Top 50 Film Villians.

A year after Schindler’s List, Fiennes acted alongside Robert Redford in the movie Quiz Show. Shifting briefly from screen to stage in 1995, he became the first Hamlet lead on Broadway to receive a Tony Award. Fiennes’ next big break came in 1996 with the war romance The English Patient. His performance opposite Kristin Scott Thomas resulted in nominations for the Best Actor Oscar in addition to BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Ralph Fiennes Bio: Later Career

In the new millennium, Fiennes has further diversified his acting portfolio. He played the male romantic lead in Jennifer Lopez’s Main in Manhattan while also serving as a villain in Spider and Red Dragon, all 2002 productions. In 2005, Fiennes acted in The White Countess and The Constant Gardener while simultaneously taking on the role of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise.

This series persisted through 2011, during which time Fiennes returned to the live stage. In 2007, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Faith Healer, and he played Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King the next year. Fiennes resumed his film career in 2008 as the Duke of Devonshire in The Duchess and as Kate Winslet’s costar in The Reader.

2009 was a notable year for Fiennes, as he was invited to be the Belgrade Film Festival FEST’s special guest. That same year, he appeared in the Best Picture-winning movie The Hurt Locker. After acting in Clash of the Titans (2010), Fiennes jumpstarted his directing career in 2011 with his film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, in which he also played the protagonist.

Fiennes went on to join the James Bond franchise, acting first in Skyfall (2012) and later in the 2015 movies Spectre and World of Espionage. Between Bond films, Fiennes acted in and directed The Invisible Woman, a highly acclaimed account of Charles Dickens’ affair with a younger woman. In 2014, Fiennes played M. Gustave in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and received a BAFTA Award in addition to a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.

Fiennes acted in the film A Bigger Splash the next year, later starring in the 2016 drama Hail, Caesar! That same year, he voiced Raiden the Moon King in the animated children’s movie Kubo and the Two Strings. He also voiced Pennyworth in The Lego Batman Movie (2017) and its 2019 sequel. 2018 Fiennes films include Antony & Cleopatra, Holmes & Watson, and his self-directed biography The White Crow.

Ralph Fiennes Bio: Exclusive Interview on ‘The White Crow’

In April 2019, Fiennes sat down with uInterview to discuss his latest directing project, The White Crow. This biography documents the life of Rudolf Nureyev, a ballet dancer who fled Russia during the Cold War. The film was originally derived from Julie Kavanaugh’s 1998 book Rudolph Nureyev: The Life and was later rewritten into a screenplay by David Hare. The White Crow, Fiennes’ first biopic, premiered at the 2018 Telluride Film Festival.

Fiennes revealed exclusively to uInterview that Kavanaugh had sent him a proof copy of Rudolph Nureyev: The Life prior to its publication. He perceived Nureyev’s story as a “fantastically cinematic tale of artistic ambition within this greater Cold War context” and proposed that Hare write a screenplay. “I felt David could write and understand this high-definition ballet dancer in the particular political time, the Cold War,” Fiennes told uInterview. “And indeed David responded to the idea and we started to work together.”

Thus began the search for a lead actor. Fiennes explained to uInterview what prompted him to choose Oleg Ivenko: “I decided early on that I wanted a dancer to play Nureyev and I felt strongly he should be someone unknown, so the audience brought no baggage at all.” Fiennes described how he “immediately had a very very strong feeling from . . . how [Ivenko] responded to [his] direction that he had an innate screen acting gift.”

For Fiennes, many of whose roles have been villainous, Nureyev’s complexity is one of the most compelling aspects of The White Crow. “I like when there are films with tricky or confrontational protagonists,” Fiennes explained to uInterview. “I think that as human beings we’re like that, we’re not all nice guys.”

Click here for the full video and transcript of Fiennes’ exclusive uInterview.

Ralph Fiennes Bio: Personal Life, Partners, Quotes

Fiennes met actress Alex Kingston at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1983 and dated her for a decade before marrying her. Two years later, he and British actress Francesca Annis entered a widely publicized nine-year affair. The scandal created a bitter divide between Fiennes and Kingston and drove them to divorce in 1997. In 2006, Annis left Fiennes over his rumored affair with the singer Cornelia Crisan.

Fiennes’ humanitarian resume is almost as comprehensive as his acting career. He supports the Canadian charity Artists Against Racism as well as the Shakespeare Schools Festival, which funds children in the U.K. to perform Shakespearean plays on major stages. After filming The Constant Gardener in the Kenyan slums and witnessing their dire condition, Fiennes helped establish the Constant Gardener Trust, an educational support program in the region. Additionally, Fiennes has been a UNICEF UK ambassador for two decades, and his work through the organization earned him Serbian citizenship in 2017. Fiennes is currently unmarried and in the process of filming several movies to be released in 2020.

“As an actor, a part of you expects to be looked at. A part of you wants to be looked at. But when I’m playing a part, in my imagined world, I feel I’m not me. I may be using bits of me, but I love the sense that I’m being someone else.”

“The process of making a film is a mad lottery. Whenever you get the feeling that you’re making something special, you have to quickly squash it because you are so often proved wrong.”

“We’re all defined by how we relate to each other. One of the best things about acting is that it calls on trust and transparency with a director or another actor. I’ve often felt happiest in ensemble situations because you have to be open. Weirdly, I find it hard in real life.”

“Success.. is all about being able to extend love to people… not in a big, capital letter sense but in the everyday. Little by little, task by task, gesture by gesture, word by word.”

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