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Posted: 30 November 2007

Ralph Fiennes captivates audience at UCD

Acclaimed stage and film actor, Ralph Fiennes captivated the hearts and minds of UCD students and invited guests as he took part in a live interview, hosted by the L&H, in front of a packed auditorium in UCD on 30 November 2007. Following the interview and a series of questions from the audience, he was awarded the L&H James Joyce Award by Michael McGrath, the auditor of the Literary and Historical Society.

Ralph Fiennes, pronounced “Rafe Fine,” first came to widespread critical acclaim for his portrayal of Amon Goeth, commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Plaszow, in Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 epic of the Holocaust - Schindler’s List.

His performance as Amon Goeth was ranked #15 on the American Film Institute's Villains list in their compilation of the 100 years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains.

For the performance, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but he did not win the Oscar. However, the performance did win him the 1994 BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as Best Supporting Actor awards the NYFCC (1993), the BSFC (1993), the DFWFCA (1994), the NSFC (1994), the CFCA (1994) and the 1995 ALFS Award for British Actor of Year.

When asked during the live interview at UCD how he felt about playing the character, Fiennes replied: “Researching for the role was very disturbing. But, I think it’s everybody’s duty to be informed about what took place during the Holocaust.”

Born in Suffolk, England, in 1962, Fiennes, the oldest of six children, did not originally intend on becoming an actor, rather, with designs on becoming a painter, he enrolled at the Chelsea College of Art and Design before transferring to London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He joined the Royal National Theatre in 1987, and one year later became part of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

During the live interview at UCD he recalled being “mesmerised by the power of language and voice in theatre” from his early years.

In 1995, he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of "Hamlet. In 2001, he received the William Shakespeare Award from the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC. Past recipients of the award include: Mel Gibson, Patrick Stewart, and Kenneth Branagh.

Fiennes was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#33) in 1995 and ranked #34 in the magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list in 1997. When asked during the interview at UCD how he felt about being labelled a sex symbol, he replied: “I guess it shows the extraordinary power of cinema.”

In 1996, he starred in Minghella’s Oscar winning adaptation of “The English Patient” – a performance which earned him his second Oscar Nomination.

Other notable films include Quiz Show, Strange Days, The End of the Affair, Red Dragon and last year's Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire and The Constant Gardener. British stage credits include Brand, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Fathers and Sons, King John, The Talking Cure, the title roles in Coriolanus and Richard II and 2005's Julius Caesar.

Despite his busy film schedule, Fiennes has not abandoned his stage roots, periodically returning to the theatre.

His 2006 portrayal of the Gaunt Genius in Brian Friel’s ‘Faith Healer' was his first return to Broadway since his award winning performance in Hamlet in 1995. The play went into production on Broadway following a sell-out run at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. The play received four Tony Award nominations in New York.


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Ralph Fiennes captivates audience at UCD