Category: Archive

So Fiennes

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Juliette Binoche’s character went mad and died in “Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.” Kristen Scott Thomas perished in “The English Patient” and Julianne Moore gave up the ghost in “The End of the Affair.”
In Fiennes’ new romantic/political thriller — based on John LeCarre’s novel, “The Constant Gardener” — Rachel Weisz plays the handsome thespian’s doomed bride.
Asked about the tragic on-screen fates of his lovely co-stars, the soft-spoken, 43-year-old actor smiled and reminded the Irish Echo: “Jennifer Lopez made it to the end of ‘Maid in Manhattan.’ She wasn’t going to go.”
The Oscar-nominated star of “Schindler’s List,” who will be seen this fall playing the evil Lord Voldemort in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” added: “I don’t only want to play tragic love stories. No. The Merchant-Ivory film I just did (‘The White Countess’) is a love story, but both partners get through to the end — intact — together.”
In “The Constant Gardener,” Fiennes plays a mild-mannered diplomat devastated by the brutal murder and possible infidelity of his beautiful wife, Tessa, a passionate activist killed in Africa before she is able to expose the deadly testing practices of a huge western pharmaceutical company. Newly determined, Fiennes’ character, Justin Quayle, risks his own life and crosses three continents to find Tessa’s killer and finish the important work she started.
Known equally well for his roles as love-struck leading men as he is for his depictions of snarling villains, Fiennes said he hopes the film delivers more in terms of story and character than posters advertising it seem to be promising. One of the most popular pictorial ads for the movie is divided in three parts with Fiennes and Weisz nuzzling at the top, a distraught-looking Fiennes alone in the middle and the outline of someone holding a gun in the bottom corner.
“We could have a big conversation about poster art,” Fiennes said with a wry grin.
“I think the poster is fine,” added the older of brother of “Shakespeare in Love” star Joseph Fiennes. “It’s like a lot of posters I’ve seen and probably been in, too. I think the film, I hope, is more than the poster suggests.”
The actor said he was drawn to the role, mainly because Justin is not a conventional movie hero.
“He is a gentle, passive figure who doesn’t qualify for heroic status to begin with,” Fiennes noted. “What I loved about it was not that he becomes an action hero, but he just grows in internal stature and strength and determination and I love that he has his uncertainties about his marriage… I love the way that, actually, it’s about the affirmation of their love for each other — even after she’s dead.”
With few exceptions, most of the films the handsome, blue-eyed actor has made over the past 15 years were dramas, many of which, like “Spider” and “Red Dragon,” explore extremely dark terrain. Given his penchant for starring in films with disturbing themes, his reply to an American reporter’s “What-super-power-would-you-like-to-have?” question at a recent group interview in London comes as small surprise.
“I’d like to clear away all anxiety and sleep easily and deeply, just like that,” he answered gamely, revealing he doesn’t care to fly or hold back time. “So, when I am tired and I lie down, instead of my head going, ‘Boom, boom, boom,’ I could just (snap my fingers) and be asleep.'”
Fortunately, he has happy times spent with his parents — a photographer and novelist — and siblings living in Ireland to think while he awaits the arrival of that super power.
“My parents moved to Ireland in the early 1970s and we lived in West Cork and then in Kilkenny. I was there for about three years,” he recalled. “I have great memories of that time.”
Co-starring Danny Huston (“The Aviator,”) Gerard McSorley (“Veronica Guerin,”) Bill Nighy (“Love Actually”) and Pete Postlewaite (“In the Name of the Father,”) “The Constant Gardener” opens nationwide Friday.

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