Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (born 22 December 1962) is an English actor, film producer, and director. A Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre. He made his film debut playing Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1992).
Fiennes's portrayal of Nazi war criminal Amon Göth in Schindler's List (1993) earned him nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, and he 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, this time for Best Actor, as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.
Fiennes has appeared in a number of other notable films, including Quiz Show (1994), Strange Days (1995), The End of the Affair (1999), Red Dragon (2002), Maid in Manhattan (2002), The Constant Gardener (2005), In Bruges (2008), The Reader (2008), Clash of the Titans (2010), Great Expectations (2012), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Fiennes starred in the Harry Potter film series (2005–2011), in which he played the franchise's main antagonist, Lord Voldemort. He stars in the James Bond series, in which he has played Gareth Mallory / M, starting with the 2012 film Skyfall.
In 2011, Fiennes made his directorial debut with his film adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy Coriolanus, in which he also played the titular character. In 1995, he won a Tony Award for playing Prince Hamlet on Broadway. Since 1999, Fiennes has served as an ambassador for UNICEF UK. Fiennes is also an Honorary Associate of London Film School. For his work behind the camera, in 2019 he received the Stanislavsky Award.
Ralph Fiennes was born in Ipswich, England on 22 December 1962. He is the eldest child of Mark Fiennes (1933–2004), a farmer and photographer, and Jennifer Lash (1938–1993), a writer. He has English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry.
He is the eldest of six children. His siblings are 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.
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 Arts before deciding that acting was his true passion.
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.
Fiennes first worked on screen in 1990 and made his film debut in 1992 as Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights opposite Juliette Binoche.
In 1993 he became known internationally for portraying the brutal Nazi concentration camp commandant Amon Göth in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. For his performance, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA Award for the role. Fiennes later stated that playing the role had a profoundly disturbing effect on him.
In 1996, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the epic World War II romance The English Patient, in which he starred with Kristin Scott-Thomas.
In 1999, Fiennes had the title role in Onegin, a film which he also helped produce. His sister Martha Fiennes directed, and brother Magnus composed the score.
In 2005, Fiennes starred in Fernando Meirelles's The Constant Gardener acting alongside Rachel Weisz. The film is set in Kenya. It was filmed in part with the actual residents of the slums of Kibera and Loiyangalani. He received a British Academy Film Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The situation affected the cast and crew to such an 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.
Fiennes gained worldwide prominence for his portrayal as Lord Voldemort, the villain in the Harry Potter film series. His first appearance was in the 2005 fantasy film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He returned to the role for three other films in the series: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), and both Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011).
In 2006, Fiennes returned to the stage in Faith Healer alongside Ian McDiarmid. The revival premiered at the Gate Theatre in Dublin before transferring to the Broadway stage at the Booth Theatre. For his performances Fiennes received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play.
In 2008, he played the Duke of Devonshire in the film The Duchess opposite Keira Knightley; That same year, he also played the protagonist in The Reader, adapted from the novel of the same name alongside Kate Winslet.
He filmed his version of Shakespeare's Coriolanus in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.
In 2012, he starred in the twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. He replaced Dame Judi Dench as M in subsequent Bond films.
Though he is not commonly noted as a comic actor, in 2014, Fiennes made an impression for his farcical turn as concierge Monsieur Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Fiennes used his time as a young porter at London's Brown's Hotel to help construct the character. For his performance, Fiennes was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.
Fiennes is a UNICEF UK ambassador and has done work in India, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, and Romania. Fiennes is also a member of the Canadian charity Artists Against Racism.
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 and divorced in 1997 following his affair with Francesca Annis who is 18 years older than him. Annis and Fiennes announced their separation on 7 February 2006, after 11 years together, in a parting described as "acrimonious", following rumours that he had an affair with the Romanian singer Cornelia Crisan.
On 7 September 2017, Fiennes was granted Serbian citizenship, which was awarded to him because of his work in the country. The decision was signed by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.
Fiennes has stated in an interview with the Evening Standard, 'I don't collect anything as such. I buy a lot of books and that's the closest I come to collecting anything.'