Ralph Fiennes is one of the most critically acclaimed actors in Hollywood today, with his early films like Schindler’s List establishing him as one of the industry’s brightest talents. But it was his take on the terrifying Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise that garnered him a global following.
It seems that the decision to play He Who Must Not Be Named in an eight film-franchise with a worldwide fanbase wasn’t as easy as you would think. In a recent interview while on The Jonathan Ross Show, Fiennes revealed that he had been initially hesitant to take on the iconic role, owing to the fact that he was completely ignorant about the books and the film universe they’d spawned.
“The truth is I was actually ignorant about the films and the books. I was approached by the production. Mike Newell was directing the film that they wanted me to be in… the first time Voldemort was going to appear physically. Out of ignorance I just sort of thought, this isn’t for me… Quite stupidly I resisted, I was hesitant,”
Fiennes further went on to reveal that it was his sister Martha who helped push him towards the part. Her three children, who were in their tweens at the time, were naturally huge fans of Harry Potter. It only took a few conversations with them and his sister for Fiennes to decide to accept the role that would come to define him for an entire generation of young moviegoers.
It’s strange to imagine that there was ever a possibility that someone else would have played the role of Lord Voldemort. Even though Richard Bremmer had briefly portrayed the Dark Lord in the first Harry Potter film, it was Fiennes who truly owned the role and made the series’ antagonist such a memorable character. It now remains to be seen whether the TV addition to the Wizarding Universe will also provide us with a similarly menacing villain, but we certainly remain hopeful.