Filming was ‘fun’ he says, before confiding that Sir Elton John complimented his performance, ‘and he knows those types of music producers. ‘Another part of my brain opened up, another part of my spirit.
Someone described directing as being pecked to death by questions,’ he says. It’s stressful but I do enjoy it.’ His current project (‘I am still trying to pull together the finances to make it’) is about Rudolf Nureyev, the Russian ballet dancer, and his defection from the USSR in 1961.
In the past, he has expressed left-leaning politics, but lost faith in Blair over Iraq.
Of Jeremy Corbyn, he says: ‘I’m curious, but I can’t say I’m a fan.
Interviews make him ‘uncomfortable’, ‘reluctant’, ‘guarded’ and ‘wary’. His silences would make Pinter fidget (the longest between question and answer is 37 drawn-out seconds). He has a range so elastic it goes to the psychopathic reaches of Commandant Amon Göth in Schindler’s List (for which he was Oscar-nominated) to the tripping-foppish romantic lead Christopher Marshall in Maid in Manhattan (in which he starred opposite Jennifer Lopez). ”’ Fiennes says dryly, ‘and parts such as Laurence Laurentz in Hail, Caesar! Lovely parts.’ Which surprised Fiennes as much as anyone ‘because before that, I was not exactly bombarded with comedies’. Fiennes ‘didn’t much want to’ inhabit the mindless violence of his darker characters any more.
Then three years ago, Wes Anderson cast him as a camp and moustached Monsieur Gustave H. ‘You have to go to weird places in your head and — well you can never say never — but after an SS commandant, a serial killer in Red Dragon and Voldemort [in Harry Potter], I decided I didn’t want to be that definition of evil any more. I’ve dabbled a bit.’ He’s still wearing the Harry beard, and it suits him.
I think he’s a decent man with a socialist conscience, but I’m sceptical that he’d be able to lead the Labour Party.
And it f**ks with your head.’ (After a bit, he concedes that if ‘Voldemort came round again, I would feel possessive... I would like to not let that go.’) His character in A Bigger Splash is a boundary-less music producer chasing Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of a Chrissie Hynde-like rock chick to an Italian island where she is recovering from a throat operation with her new boyfriend. What Fiennes, 53, plans is more directing — he both acted in and directed Coriolanus and The Invisible Woman — which he describes as ‘more than fulfilling, I found it answered some part of me’.The third adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic tale of love and vengeance on the Yorkshire moors, this had the deck stacked against it from the start: there was the "controversial" casting of unknown stage-treader Ralph Fiennes and French actrice Juliette Binoche in the lead roles, while the 1939 version starring Sir Larry and Merle Oberon is enshrined in the public's conscience as a romantic evergreen.Indeed, given this risky undertaking, it's tempting to call the final result an admirable failure, when damp squib comes closer to the mark.The fatal flaw lies not in the two leads - Binoche is suitably headstrong and freespirited, while Fiennes' Heathcliff is all brooding torment - but in trying to cram the whole of a particularly complex novel into two hours.With no time to build up the fiery emotional bond between the duo, Heathcliff's second-half unleashing of ghastly revenge is all rather tedious and nasty, so that, rather than being empathetic, he comes across as a barking-mad pain in the rear.