It’s ‘Rafe’, Actually


Ralph FiennesWe’ve been dishing all week on our favorite sexy stars, beginning on Tuesday with Justin Timberlake and yesterday with Timothy Olyphant. So I think it more than appropriate that we wind up this most enjoyable topic with one of the sexiest actors (IMHO) in the biz, and that’s none other than Ralph Fiennes.

Ralph really came into his own as a face to remember with his stellar performance back in 1993 in Schindler’s List, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (and, where he famously told a young reporter who was interviewing him and who incorrectly pronounced his name that, “it’s Rafe, actually”). He was awesome in that movie, playing the villainous Nazi Commander Amon Goeth. As far as sexiness goes, this wasn’t a typically sexy guy role. He played a Nazi after all, a horrible, evil person who shot Jewish prisoners from his balcony. Plus he was fat, unkempt, and a lech. Yet there was something so mesmerizing about him, gut and all, that I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

Where I first noticed how hot he is was in the 1992 performance of WutheringWuthering Heights Heights, where he played tortured hero Heathcliff. First of all, the story itself gets me every time. Heathcliff in some ways isn’t really all that nice of a guy, but he’s so damn tortured over his unrequited love of Catherine. As a lover of romance, how can I not feel for the guy? And the way Fiennes played him completely absorbed me in the story. I really felt like he became Heathcliff. He wasn’t just a guy playing him on TV.

The year after Schindler’s List he played Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show, a movie that I happen to really like. Fiennes’ Van Doren isn’t really a “hot” macho guy kind of role, but he doesn’t really play those kinds of roles anyway. Where I think Ralph Fiennes really shines (hey, that rhymes!) is either as an evil villain, or as the tortured lover type guy. He’s not a chest thumping he-man but rather a cerebral, anguished, smoldering lover, and ohhhhh my, is he ever fabulous in that role.

In 1996 he earned his second Academy Award Nomination for his role as Count Laszlo de Almásy in The English Patient. This is Ralph Fiennes English Patientthe ultimate romantic hero role. Fiennes’ character has a fateful love affair with Katharine Clifton, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. It’s a big, epic kinda movie that will truly sweep you away. Once again, the character he plays is a tortured, agonized soul who loves and loses in a tragic, heartbreaking affair. I do wonder why he frequently choses these kinds of characters but clearly he’s drawn to them. Maybe he’s had similar experiences in his personal life, although I can’t really find anything out about it. He was married once, and had a long-term relationship another time. Or, alternately, maybe his relationships have been nothing but plain vanilla so he’s pulled into the complex, tortured ones.

Ralph Fiennes SunshineThere are a couple of movies that I thought he was brilliant in that I don’t know really caught on in a big way with audiences. One of these films is Sunshine. If you haven’t seen it, and are a Ralph Fiennes fan, do yourself a ginormous favor and add it to your Netflix queue pronto! Fiennes plays three roles in the movie, Ignatz Sonnenschein/Adam Sors/Ivan Sors, a grandfather, father, and son, and he’s incredibly awesome. Plus – worth noting for faithful Lady Smut readers – there are lots of mighty fine bum shots in this film because Mr. Fiennes has lots of sex in it.

True to form, he also plays an arrogant aristocrat in Onegin, the classic Russian literary story by Pushkin. He initially rebuffs the Oneginlove of wide-eyed, innocent Tatyana, only to realize years later – and far too late –  what he’s lost. Again with the tragic love! It’s a heart-wrenching film and even though the arrogant Onegin is a real jerk in the beginning for whom we don’t feel a lot of empathy, Fiennes plays him perfectly and in the end I felt for his loss. Also, the final confrontation scene in the end between Onegin and Tatyana is really wonderful. Tatyana’s character is played by Liv Tyler and she’s beautiful in in.

The films I’ve mentioned have all been from several years ago. Fiennes’ more recent work is much more well-known since he played Lord Voldemort in several Harry Potter films. Now, I recognize that a lot of people may howl with indignation, but I haven’t actually read a single Harry Potter book nor seen any of the films. I may get around to them; then again, I may not. There’s just so much reading and film watching time and much more material than any one person can possibly consume. And anyway, Voldemort isn’t exactly the definition of a sexy guy, so I’m not talking about that one.

What I will mention, lastly, is another early film starring Fiennes, and that’s the wonderful End of the Affair. I love that movie, End of the Affairand he’s sooooo hot in it. Yes, hot. He’s quiet but intense novelist Maurice Bendrix who’s hopelessly, obsessively in love with Sarah. There are some really steamy love scenes in this movie, too. For fans of Fiennes, what more can you want?

I could go on and on, but honestly, I think I’ve gotta go fire up my DVR. I’ve got some movie watching to do!

Enjoy the weekend and the Oscars on Sunday!

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5 Comments

  • LizEverly
    February 22, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I probably would have missed the whole Harry Potter thing if it were not for my girls. But now sometimes I wonder if I’m a bigger fan than they are. And I loved a Ralph in Tht English Patient, which is one of my favorite movies, visually. Just stunning.

    • zsuzsanna
      February 24, 2013 at 10:31 am

      He was wonderful in TEP, sexy and charismatic, but looking his villain parts one can see the same: even as Dark Lord Harry Waters Duke of Devonshire Hades Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights,and beside being the devil himself (as the real Amon Goeth was) his masculinity overwrites everything, even when he plays homosexuals (Bernard Lafferty in Bernard and Doris) or paedofiles (Chromophobia) .aÍnd there is the same situation in his ‘sympathetic roles (Todd Jackson, (TWC) Justin (Quayle) and last but not at least as Magwitch)

      • madelineiva
        February 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        He played a somewhat villainous Lord Byron with Eric Stoltz and Laura Derne in HAUNTED SUMMER. He was pretty good in that – I think he took his name off it for some reason, though….

      • Elizabeth Shore
        February 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm

        I wholeheartedly agree, Zsuzsanna! There were so many examples I could have included in my post and it’s great that you’ve brought up some of the other movies I’ve loved him in. Thanks for the comment!

  • Elizabeth Shore
    February 24, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I never knew about Haunted Summer. Adding to my Netflix queue. Thanks, Madeline!

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