Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Fiennes, Ralph (Nathaniel)
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English film and stage actor. He was nominated for Academy Awards for his supporting role as a Nazi concentration camp commandant in Schindler's List (1993) and for his leading role as a Hungarian mapmaker during World War II in The English Patient (1996).

Schindler's List was followed by Fiennes's equally adept performances in Quiz Show (1994), in which he played an academic caught up in a television game show rigging scandal of the 1950s, and Strange Days (1995), in which he played an underworld racketeer in Los Angeles at the end of the 20th century. In 1999 he collaborated with his sister, Martha (1964– ), who directed, and his brother, Magnus (1965– ), who wrote the score, in an adaptation of Pushkin's verse novel Onegin. He starred in the novel adaptations The End of the Affair (1999), The Constant Gardener (2005), and The Reader (2008), as well as the costume drama The Duchess (2008). From 2005, he also played Lord Voldemort in the film adaptations of the Harry Potter series. He returned to the stage in 2000 to star in Richard II at the Almeida Theatre, London.

Fiennes studied painting at the Chelsea College of Art and Design before turning to drama, which he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Having established himself as a stage actor with the National Theatre Company (which he joined in 1987) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (1989), Fiennes made his screen debut in 1990, appearing in the television movie A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia and the mini-series Prime Suspect. His feature film debut followed in 1992 when he played Heathcliff opposite Juliette Binoche in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. He found a wider audience in Schindler's List, his first Hollywood production. He was the winner of the 1995 Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance in Hamlet. His other films include The Baby of Maçon (1993), Oscar and Lucinda (1997), The Avengers (1998), Sunshine (2000), Red Dragon (2002), Maid in Manhattan (2002), and Clash of the Titans (2010). He is a cousin of the British explorer Ranulph Fiennes and brother of fellow actor Joseph Fiennes.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.