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For Fiennes, Conspiracy And Love

Ralph Fiennes in Focus Features' The Constant Gardener - 2005
Focus Features
Actor Ralph Fiennes is best known for his portrayals of intense men in intense situations.

In his latest movie, "The Constant Gardener," he plays a British diplomat increasingly frustrated by his wife's secretive behavior.

"There are two equal parts to this movie," Fiennes says in the film's production notes. "On the one hand, it's a political thriller about corporate wrongdoing, malfeasance and manipulation. On the other, it's about the relationship between Justin and Tessa Quayle.

"Justin's journey traces not only what Tessa was investigating; he's also playing detective about their relationship. This man rediscovers and re-assesses his own relationship with his wife. It's a wonderful part, because he goes from being a reticent nice guy to being someone who is forced to confront some pretty tough truths about the world. I hope that the audience sees him as a kind of 'everyman.' "

The film also stars Rachel Weisz as Tessa. The international filmmaking team behind "The Constant Gardener" includes producer Simon Channing Williams (Academy Award nominee for "Secrets & Lies"), director of photography César Charlone (Academy Award nominee for Mr. Meirelles' "City of God"), editor Claire Simpson (Academy Award winner for "Platoon"), production designer Mark Tildesley ("28 Days Later …"), and costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux ("Dirty Pretty Things").

Fiennes visits The Early Show Friday to talk about the film and his career.

About Ralph Fiennes:

  • Born Ralph Nathaniel Fiennes in Suffolk, England, Dec. 22, 1962.
  • Attended Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, England. Majored in painting. Studied there for one year before changing to acting. Also went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England (1982-85). Classmates included Imogen Stubbs, Jane Horrocks, Iain Glen and future wife Alex Kingston.
  • In 1986, he began his acting career with the Open Air Theatre, performing in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Twelfth Night" and "Ring Around the Moon."
  • Later, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company for two seasons; acted in productions of "King Lear," "Love's Labour's Lost," "Troilus and Cressida" (as Troilus), and "Henry VI" (as Henry).
  • In 1991, he made his British TV debut in "Prime Suspect" (aired in the USA in 1992) and made his feature film debut in "Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights;" a flop in Britain, it aired on the U.S. cable channel TNT in 1994.

    Also in 1991, he played the title role of adventurer T.E. Lawrence in "A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia," which was shown on PBS' "Great Performances" in 1992. Reportedly, Steven Spielberg saw him in this role and wanted to cast him as Amon Goeth in "Schindler's List."

  • In 1993, he had his first American film, "Schindler's List," which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as Nazi commandant Amon Goeth.
  • In 1994, he starred as Charles Van Doren in the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated "Quiz Show."
  • In 1995, he had his Broadway debut in the title role of "Hamlet" and won a Tony Award.
  • In 1996, he earned Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the title role in "The English Patient."
  • In 1997, he co-starred with Cate Blanchett in "Oscar and Lucinda." The following year he lent his voice to the character Rameses, Moses' foster brother, in his first biblical animated feature "Prince of Egypt," opposite Val Kilmer and Sandra Bullock.
  • In 1999, he starred in and was executive producer of the film version of "Onegin;" directed by his sister, Martha, and he co-starred opposite Julianne Moore in "The End of the Affair."
  • In 2002, he was cast as the tattooed serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in "Red Dragon," based on the Thomas Harris novel, a prequel to "Silence of the Lambs." He also starred opposite Jennifer Lopez in the Cinderella-like "Chambermaid," later renamed "Maid in Manhattan."

    He also starred in Christopher Hampton's play "The Talking Cure" at London's National Theater and played the title role in Henrik Ibsen's "Brand" for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

  • Most recently, he was on stage in Deborah Warner's production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" at the Barbican Centre in London and on tour in Paris, Madrid and Luxembourg.
  • In early 2006, he will reunite with Jonathan Kent for Brian Friel's "Faith Healer," which will premiere at Dublin's Gate Theatre before coming to Broadway.
  • Fiennes also stars in a host of soon-to-be-released film projects. These include the new Merchant Ivory film "The White Countess," with Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson; Martha Fiennes' "Chromophobia," which world-premiered as the Closing-Night film at the 2005 Cannes International Film Festival; Robert Edwards' "Land of the Blind;" Steve Box and Nick Park's animated "Wallace & Gromit — The Curse of the Were-rabbit" (in voiceover); and Mike Newell's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as the dreaded Lord Voldemort.