Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (phew!), known to most audiences as Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series, turns 54 today. The gifted Shakespearean actor, who debuted as the troubled Heathcliff in the 1992 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, shot to fame with his portrayal of Amon Goeth, the hardened Nazi in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List.
His appeal lies in his ability to pull off the role of a vulnerable, hopeless romantic, and a cold-blooded serial killer, with equal conviction. On his birthday, here are some of the actor’s finest performances, arranged in no particular order. Treat yourself!
1. The End of the Affair (1999)
Fiennes plays a writer with a turbulent past in this Neil Jordan-directed film, adapted from the eponymous Graham Greene novel. Fiennes as the skeptical Maurice Bendrix is restrained and sensitive.
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
This Wes Anderson film is a visual delight, in addition to being hilarious, the credit for which goes to Ralph Fiennes. He plays Monsieur Gustave H., the suave concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel who must prove his innocence after being framed for murder.
3. Coriolanus (2011)
Fiennes’ directorial debut, this adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy of the same name in alternate modern-day Rome is an unconventional one. Fiennes plays Caius Martius Coriolanus, the Roman general who is despised for the problems the city faces. His portrayal is raw, striking and memorable.
4. The Constant Gardener (2005)
Ralph Fiennes does seem to have an odd connection with book adaptations! This film, adapted from a John le Carre novel, follows the experiences of Justin Quayle, a diplomat who explores the circumstances of his activist wife’s murder in Kenya. Fiennes’ transition from the gentle pacifist to a determined man seeking answers, is spectacular, to say the least.
5. Schindler’s List (1993)
Much has been said about the Spielberg film and the tremendous impact is has had in the last two decades. Amon Goeth is one of Ralph Fiennes’ most celebrated performances. His portrayal of the ruthless SS officer in charge of a concentration camp is chilling and true to life. So much so, that when an actual survivor of the camp met him in character, it is said that she trembled with fear!
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part I (2010)
Fiennes’ craft finds wonderful expression in this character which has made him a household name. His Lord Voldemort is menacing, unpredictable and terrifying- just as JK Rowling must have envisioned him. This scene acquaints viewers with the pure evil that Voldemort has been sketched as.
This miniscule list just gives a glimpse of the immense talent that Ralph Fiennes possesses. We hope that the actor continues to delight us with his spellbinding performances.