Ten years ago, Ralph Fiennes played Coriolanus on stage. Now he is bringing the lesser known Shakespeare tragedy to the silver screen and the forefront of public consciousness. Fiennes is directing for the first time as well as reprising his role as the title character, a Roman soldier that must join forces with his sworn enemy (Gerard Butler) to take revenge on the city that betrayed him. The movie gets a slight update from Shakespeare’s original, but all of the crucial elements remain the same.
If the trailer (below) is any indication, you don’t want to mess with Coriolanus. Fiennes has done some very impressive acting in his career, but he always seems to be playing the bad guy. Whether it’s the outright embodiment of evil, or just a guy with an attitude problem, something about Fiennes makes directors think “this guy would make a great bastard”. Here are ten of Fiennes’ most evil roles throughout his career..
10. Charles Van Doren, Quiz Show
Fiennes plays a contestant on the American television game show Twenty One who accepts answers from producers and in essence, lies to the country. As ratings plummeted for the show, the producers and sponsor decided to find a new champion, and choosing Van Doren, they created a national celebrity by feeding him every answer. Although he is really more of a pawn for the show’s producers, he is doing wrong nonetheless. He eventually comes clean but only at the last possible moment:
9. Heathcliff, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights
In 1992 Fiennes took on the role of the unrelenting and contemptuous Heathcliff and played him in all of his bastardly glory. Heathcliff targets all those that he felt did him wrong, ruining their lives and the lives of their children just because the girl he liked wouldn’t marry him. He is the worst kind of jerk, a rich one. To see Fiennes at his worst, jump to the 3:44 mark of this video:
8. William Cavendish, The Duchess
Ralph channelled the historically mean-spirited 5th Duke of Devonshire, who generally abused his wife for this 2008 film. After marrying her he kept her away from her family, ritually slept with other women and made it clear that his wife’s only mission was to provide a male heir. Fiennes wasn’t just a bad guy in the movie, he cheated on Keira Knightly. That makes him downright evil. Watch the trailer to see him being a bastard and plenty of Keira too:
7. Lord Victor Quartermaine, Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-RabbitThis might be a kid-friendly movie but that doesn’t mean Fiennes doesn’t play a bastard. Quartermaine is the main villain of the movie (except for you know, the were-rabbit) and he even has an evil dog following him around. Pompous, concerned strictly with money and power, in direct conflict with the film’s heroes and willing to use any means necessary to get what he wants… there seems to be a definite theme in Fiennes’ roles.
6. Harry Waters, In Bruges
This movie is full of bad people that are really good people, but Fiennes plays the bad guy that is pretty much just a bad guy. As the film’s crime boss, he orders Collin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson to assassinate someone and ends up shooting the two of them himself. Although he adheres to a strict code of integrity, he ruthlessly profits from the killing of others and becomes the main villain at the end of the film. This clip describes most of Fiennes’ characters:
5. Ramses, Prince of Egypt
Ok sure, this is a kid’s movie with pretty strong religious tones and plenty of sing-a-long music, but that does not negate the fact that Fiennes is voicing one of the most prolific “bad guys” in history. When it comes down to it, Ramses kept slaves, ignored the suffering of his people and was just generally not a nice guy. Watch this to see Ramses in his height of arrogance and keep watching for the musical number, you know you want to:
4. Francis Dolarhyde, Red Dragon
Fiennes plays serial killer Francis Dolarhyde a.k.a. “The Tooth Fairy” and he’s so evil that he manages to overshadow Hannibal Lecter. As a disturbed schizophrenic, Dolarhyde believes that by killing he is feeding his alternate personality. Fiennes is disturbingly brilliant in the role and truly brings the psychotic serial killer to life. This movie is creepy and so is this clip:
3. Hades, Clash of the Titans
This film might not be as deep as Schindler’s List but Fiennes is pretty much as evil as it gets. He is the main villain in the movie as well as the ruler of the underworld who feeds on mortals’ fear. Fiennes is well prepared for taking on that role. Hades is a conniving bastard:
2. Voldemort, The Harry Potter Series
In his most famous role, Fiennes plays a man so evil that he doesn’t even have a nose. Voldemort ruthlessly kills, preaches intolerance and practices “the dark arts”. It doesn’t get any more evil than Voldemort and nobody could play him better than Ralph. It’s hard to choose a single clip to illustrate his malevolence throughout seven movies, but it’s eventually culminated in one moment:
1. Amon Goeth, Schindler’s List
In one of his most famous roles, Fiennes embodies the evil of the Nazi regime as Amon Goeth. An SS-Lieutenant, Goeth liquidates a Jewish ghetto, supervises the construction of a concentration camp and massacres innocent people. Fiennes received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his incredible portrayal of the war criminal: