Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes (born 22 December 1962), is an English actor. A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre.
Fiennes’ portrayal of Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List (1993) earned him nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, and he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. His performance as Count Almásy in The English Patient (1996) garnered him a second Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor, as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations.
Since then, Fiennes has been in a number of notable films, including Strange Days (1995), The End of the Affair (1999), Red Dragon (2002), The Constant Gardener (2005), In Bruges (2008), The Reader (2008), Clash of the Titans (2010), Great Expectations (2012), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He is also known for his roles in major film franchises such as the Harry Potter film series (2005–2011), in which he played Lord Voldemort, and the James Bond series, in which he has played M, starting with the 2012 film Skyfall.
In 2011, Fiennes made his directorial debut with his film adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus, in which he also played the title character. Fiennes won a Tony Award for playing Prince Hamlet on Broadway. Since 1999, Fiennes has served as an ambassador for UNICEF UK.
Fiennes was born in Ipswich, on 22 December 1962. He is the eldest child of Mark Fiennes (1933–2004), a farmer and photographer, and Jennifer Lash (1938–1993), a writer. He has English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. His surname is of Norman origin. His grandfathers were industrialist Sir Maurice Fiennes (1907–1994) and Brigadier Henry Alleyne Lash.
Fiennes is an eighth cousin of Charles, Prince of Wales, and a third cousin of adventurer Ranulph Fiennes and author William Fiennes. He is the eldest of six children. His siblings are actor Joseph Fiennes; Martha Fiennes, a director (in her film Onegin, he played the title role); Magnus Fiennes, a composer; Sophie Fiennes, a filmmaker; and Jacob Fiennes, a conservationist. His foster brother, Michael Emery, is an archaeologist. His nephew Hero Fiennes-Tiffin played Tom Riddle, young Lord Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
The Fiennes family moved to Ireland in 1973, living in West Cork and County Kilkenny for some years. Fiennes was educated at St Kieran’s College for one year, followed by Newtown School, a Quaker independent school in County Waterford. They moved to Salisbury in England, where Fiennes finished his schooling at Bishop Wordsworth’s School. He went on to pursue painting at Chelsea College of Art before deciding that acting was his true passion.
Fiennes is a UNICEF UK ambassador and has done work in India, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Romania.
Fiennes met English actress Alex Kingston while they were both students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. After dating for ten years, they married in 1993 and divorced in 1997.