Fiennes on Voldemort: “A Rejected Person”

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Oct 09, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
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Actor Ralph Fiennes has made some new remarks on the character he portrays in the Harry Potter films: Lord Voldemort. Speaking with Variety, Ralph Fiennes says that as an actor he developed some background of the Dark Lord before taking on the part several years ago (and several HP books) for the Goblet of Fire movie. The article notes the actor “worked hard to develop a convincing backstory for Lord Voldemort that would ring psychologically true, despite the fact that Fiennes is virtually unrecognizable in the role under layers of ghoulish makeup.” Quotage:

“I hesitated for a bit before committing to the role because it sort of requires you to personify evil, and I don’t know how you do that,” Fiennes says. “I latched onto what was maybe crude psychology in working out Voldemort’s obsession with Harry. Harry was loved by his parents, which Voldemort can’t stand. He is, of course, a rejected person. It’s quite basic: the rejected child who’s emotionally been denied affection turns violent. You have to suggest there’s more there, a life, a spirit, a mind. It isn’t just a creepy voice and makeup. I always think you can find more in something. It’s good to just keep asking questions until someone says cut.”

Thanks Radcakesfan!





32 Responses to Fiennes on Voldemort: “A Rejected Person”

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fiennes is brill as voldy keep in up

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I saw him interviewed when he received the UCD L&H James Joyce Award (yep, the same one JKR got). He puts a lot of work into his roles. When he was describing the research he did for Red dragon, he said (half humorously) that some of the stuff he read gave him nightmares. I was thrilled, but not at all supprised when he was offered the LV role but a bit surprised he accepted it. Anyone who has seen his performances in Shindlers list and Wuthering Hights (his first major film and the first thing i saw him in. genuinely creepy and obsessive) could see that he is perfect for the role. The only cast member that is in danger of out doing him on the HP set is jason isaacs. rickman unfortunatly doesnt get anything like enough screen time. hopefully this will change for the last three films

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Ralph is great as voldy, though the graveyard scene in GoF struck me as a bit over the top at first, its settled into an unforgetable performance for me. his little time in OOTP was great, the duel…...need i say more? im anxious to see him in the DH, especially flying, that is gonna be tricky to not make it look hokey and to convey menace during it. and of course the showdown, when i read DH i imagined him doing the shrieking shack scene with rickman, im very anxious to see how they do that one, THEY CANNOT SKIP SNAPES DEATH, you hear me you money grubbing WB foo’s??

wandless memory extraction, discuss…

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A very insightful actor! Mr Finnes knows exactly what it takes, to give a convincing portrayal, of this type of character! It’s certainly not easy, by any means! I must confess, that I have only seen part of ‘Shindler’s List’ and have not seen ‘Whuthering Hights’. But from this interview, I can tell that he must have been extraordinary! He has made ’ Voldemort’ his own, and at the same time shown US the “true” ‘Voldemort’. I imagine that JK is quite pleased with his portrayal. What a marvelous actor! [My kind of “menace”]

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You gotta love it when there’s proof of REAL actors out there :-)

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Well said, Emmy!

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Confederate Lady, Schindler’s List is a must see – Spielburg’s best film by some distance and Fiennes is superb.

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He read the books. If only Sir Michael Gambon had followed his example…

Voldemort, on the screen, is more believable.

Way to go! Ralph.

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Yeah, Schindler’s List was a great film but damn, it was a harrowing experience to watch. Of course that was the intention. The performances of Liam, Kingsley and Fiennes gave the movie immense gravitas. And I have to say imho, Fiennes Nazi role was one of the most frightening villain in film history. He won a deserved Oscar for it. I see his role as Voldermont in DH to be a promotion as a Hitler type Nazi oppressive! I mean DH mirrored so much of the Nazi movement and oppression (though necessarily diluted of course!). How lucky we are to have the very best of elite British actors playing these roles.

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Ok, here’s the thing that kinda bugs me. And this goes for Michael Gambon who portrys Dumbeldor since Movie 3 and on. Both of these characters have admited to not reading the series. If Mr. Fiennes had read the books, he would know Voldemort wasn’t going after Harry because he was loved by his parents. He was going after him because a proficy stated in the end, Harry would do him in (in not so many words). If he had read the series, he would know that. His obsession from then on out is part because of that and because of his pride issues of being outdone by Harry and wanting to show he’s more powerful. If he really wanted to get into the phycology of Voldemort, he should’ve read the series to see how he started. How he was mean spirited from the start. Maybe in part to him being rejected, but that is no excuse. Harry grew up in a worst envirement then an orphanage. Anyway, as I was saying before, I HATE, HATE, HATE how Michael Gambon pertrays Dumboldore. He’s SO FAR OFF. Dumboldore is not some angry, shouting person. He’s very reserved and respectful. He doesn’t go around barking at people all the time. If he ever picked up a Harry Potter book he would know that. Richard Harris (Dumboldore Movie 1 & 2) hit it RIGHT ON THE MONEY. He said he used to read the books to his grandchildren. If these actors want to get it right, the research should be in the books. That’s where they are going to find what they need for thier characters. Side note, regardless of my abover rantings…I think Mr. Fiennes does a WONDERFUL job pertraying Voldemort. =)

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@Iyamjody: We can’t really put your ranting aside…it’s quite long

As for the portrayal of characters, if the director was not OK with the way the actor portrayed the character they would correct the acting, even if the actor is a respected actor who’s “made” himself into the character. Gambon’s Dumbledore shows more of the strong character that the Headmaster had, I don’t love it sometimes, but what can we do. As for Fiennes’ Voldemort I absolutely love it, love it, love it. I think he is definitely Voldy. And, listen, with all the inbreeding in the Slytherin line, do you really need to know why the kid was messed up?! Coupled with the fact that he was abandoned (most children would have a problem with that) and then discovering he had special powers that made him not just another rejected mistake….

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Stixvix:

LOL good point about the Slytherin line. I appreciate you letting me get all this off my chest. Can you tell it’s been festering for some time. ;-) Maybe you are right. Maybe it’s the directors fault for not portraying Dumbledore correctly. I mean SOMEONE has had to point out to Gambon that Dumbledore isn’t a miserable, grouchy old man. Either way, I think it’s a disservice to such a great character. =P

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@Iyamjody:

You would think that the actors and directors would hear some of these comments somewhere…so many people would like a less grouchy protrayal of Dumbledore, not necessarily a softy approach, just a little kinder.

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I do agree with the horrible protrayal of Dumbledore….I loved the original though..he was perfect!!!! as far as Fiennes goes my hubby always says he’s impressed that they can make his nose look so small when it’s kinda on the large side! I think he does a great job protraying Voldemort!

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I love him, and I love that he wants to understand why Voldy is the way he is, after all if he was just a bad guy for the sake of it he wouldn’t be such a brilliant villain!

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Michael Gambon is a remarkable actor, an artist, but I am not convinced he was the right choice for Dumbledore. It would require an actor more inclined to portray characters, as a means to please the fans. At least that would be consistent with the overall casting. I don’t think his interpretation of the character would change even if he did read the books however. On the other hand I would say the Gambon Dumbledore certainly is a more realistic character than the way Richard Harris portrayed him or the way he is depicted in the books. If it’s something I really can’t take seriously about the books, it isn’t all the supernatural nonsense, but the madly excessive goodness of Dumbledore as opposed to the excessive evil of Voldemort.

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I have tried to adjust to Gambon as Dumbledore, but then, since they gut the stories anway, I’ve just watched the movies as ADAPTATIONS a word I hate, and try to visualize Ian McKellan as Dumbledore. He has just so much more emotional range and control. I am sure Mr. Gambon is a fine man and actor, but he is no Dumbledore.

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First, Ralph Fiennes is a great actor and I’m really happy he’s Voldemort. He got the portrayal right even without knowing Voldie’s back story. BTW, he was pretty much (aside from the cinematography) that I liked about “The English Patient,” and he was also predictably fantastic in “The Constant Gardener.” I recommend the second film. “English Patient” – not so much, it was three hours of my life I’ll never get back, but Fiennes was fabulous.

As for Gambon, everyone just needs to get over it already. He’s been DD for four movies now if you include HBP, he’s not being replaced, and the directors obviously like what he’s doing with the character or else they’d tell him to act in a different way. Even though Richard Harris was wonderful, no argument there, even if the man hadn’t died he didn’t have the same energy that Gambon has in the role. DD is old, but still very energetic, which Gambon shows very well.

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First, Ralph Fiennes is a great actor and I’m really happy he’s Voldemort. He got the portrayal right even without knowing Voldie’s back story. BTW, he was pretty much (aside from the cinematography) that I liked about “The English Patient,” and he was also predictably fantastic in “The Constant Gardener.” I recommend the second film. “English Patient” – not so much, it was three hours of my life I’ll never get back, but Fiennes was fabulous.

As for Gambon, everyone just needs to get over it already. He’s been DD for four movies now if you include HBP, he’s not being replaced, and the directors obviously like what he’s doing with the character or else they’d tell him to act in a different way. Even though Richard Harris was wonderful, no argument there, even if the man hadn’t died he didn’t have the same energy that Gambon has in the role. DD is old, but still very energetic, which Gambon shows very well.

Somehow I don’t think Ian McKellen would want to get pigeonholed as another wizard, and wouldn’t have agreed to do it. That’s always been wishful thinking.

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It’s one thing to post an opinion, quite another to chide someone else fo theirs.

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Surprised some people didn’t like the graveyard scene. I always liked it. I loved the way V did those sudden movements, kind of snake like. As someone who had not at that time read any of the books I found it very disturbing, so the actors must have done something right. Especially since it was that scene which spurred me on to read all the books! I am really looking forward to seeing him in DH, not to mention his nephew in HBP!

I agree with Catherine that Gambon gets across DD’s energy better than Harris. His energy in POA jarred at first until I read the books and realized that in fact DD does have great energy for his age. With all respect to Harris, who was spot on in appearance and set the scene perfectly as a kind grandfather figure for Harry, Gambon is actually more my DD. I can already imagine his version of DD with the dodgy past life that we now know he had. Also, in real life Gambon has a wicked and eccentric sense of humour like DD, so if it isn’t showing in the films it must mean that the script is at fault. It stands to reason that if DD is only in serious scenes in the films then getting humour across is going to be difficult. Of all five only POA manages it. The OotP court scene shows a hint when DD says Brian (if they had done the chintz armchair it would have been spot on!).

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Fiennes clearly got a very close understanding of Voldemort, was he able to read the full set of books while preparing for the role? Did he interview JKR much? Its a pity the rest of the cast can’t put as much into the job.

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I love you Leaky! Most of my friends like HP put aren’t maniacs like me, so this is The Place to Be. I mean, where else could you have amazing discussions like the one that has just been going on? Three cheers for The Leaky Cauldron!

Anyway, I agree with both sides on Gambon. Harris’ Dumbledore was absolutely incredible, as it showed the Dumbledore that we thought we knew. To quote Aberforth “The sun shone out of his orifice.” It’s interesting though, Gambon shows the real Dumbledore, the one underneath. Of course, he never meant to, but it’s there all the same. And it’s a bit of a pity too, seeing as we don’t know that side exists until DH. I think I have gotten more used to him by now, but I don’t I will ever forgive him for “HARRY-DID-YOU-PUT-YOUR-NAME-IN-THE-GOBLET-OF-FIRE??

The one thing thing that will be interesting for me is whether or not I will cry when Dumbledore dies in the next movie. If Harris was playing him, I would for sure, but with Gambon, who knows?

Another thought: if in DH, they show flashbacks when people are ralking about and remembering Dumbledore, Gambon will do a stellar job.

And of course, Fiennes is awesome.

Radish :)

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iyamjodi & stixvix, thanks for an entertaining, edifying, and civil exchange of ideas. If only all posters adhered to your principles!

I love Fiennes’ portrayal of Voldemort. Perhaps he didn’t read the books, but he certainly put the thought and the work into development of the character. He’s chilling.

As for Gambon, I truly detested him in HP 3 & 4, but I must admit I liked him very much in HP 5. He showed tenderness, sensitivity, and vulnerability. I still think Richard Harris would have been incredible in the fight scenes, but I was very happy with Gambon and I look forward to seeing him in the next two (er, three) films as well!

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Ralph,you are perfect!!! i really miss you Harris, you were AWESOME. Gambon, i hope you prform better than your usual standards in HP-6 .the same goes for the rest of the cast. BECAUSE I AM STILL SEETHING AT THE WAY WARNER BROTHERS CHANGED THE RELEASE DATES. OOTP WAS ANYWAY A DISAPPOINTMENT.

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I have to say with Gambon that he got Dumbledore almost right in PoA he was quirky, Funny yet didn’t act like an Old man which is exactly what dumbledore was suppose to be

Harris was good but he played him slow and old which if you actually read the books is not how he should be played, could you imagine Dumbledore of films one and two dueling Voldemort.

In an ideal world i would bring the Grace and manner of Harris together with the energy (and humour in PoA) of Gambon and get rid of the wierd gambon accent.

In short i dont think either one of them has got it right.

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I love Ralp and he is a great actor and a great Voldemort.

But I disagree with his argument that V. was rejected. In the Orphanage the children were treated much the same, but Tom behaving badly and was an outsider. In Hogwarts almost all the teachers liked him, look at the Slug-club, he was not alone. And when he worked for Borgin he had a great sucess and was welcomed in houses.

I would say he rejected people because he was not interested to find a way to life in the “normal society”, he could have had a wife if he wanted too, Bella was crazy for him and he would have had a lot of money with her also

Avatar Image says: I agree... Richard Harris played a much more likeable character. The current Dumbledore: Just another angry gay man. Avatar Image says: If you want to check out another really nasty performance by Fiennes, go see "The Duchess". Another evil character that Fienned nailed. Hehehe.......Avatar Image says: It's not everyone who can look beyond Voldemort's snake face, and yet not try to make him a pitiful, understanding character. Fiennes is brilliant, and does a great job as Voldemort.Avatar Imagecghambright says: Wow it's great to see that he really does understand his character. I love when actors do that. Avatar ImagecrazyforSeverus says: I'm so glad her did take up the role as Voldemort. It's nice to know he did some background research and thought into the character-it makes him so much more believeable. He stole the show in the Goblet of Fire.

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