Joseph Fiennes

Joseph Fiennes

His role as titular playwright in 'Shakespeare in Love' (1999)


“The need to survive was more important that the academic side, as was the
challenge to reinvent myself from school to school. It felt odd because we were
always moving and I never knew what the syllabus was. I know a lot of people who
were unhappy at school and they'd probably only been to 2 schools in their whole
life. But I relished our life and it was probably good preparation, I’m sure for
acting which has a gypsy element to it.” Joseph Fiennes

A British actor with outrageously long-lashed brown eyes and darkly intense
looks, Joseph Fiennes has created a solid career both on stage and in film with
various performances ranging from the classics to modern comedy. This tall
striking actor, who is frequently cast as a character who writes, was launched
to stardom and is most-known to moviegoers as the poor novelist William
Shakespeare, opposite Gweneth Paltrow, in the hit Shakespeare in Love (1998), in
which he netted such awards as a Las Vegas Film Critics Society award, a
Broadcast Film Critics Association award, a Chicago Film Critics Association
award, a Blockbuster Entertainment award, a Screen Actors Guild award and a MTV
Movie award. One of the movie industry’s hottest properties, Fiennes is also
well-recognized as Cate Blanchett’s love interest in the popular Elizabeth
(1998), the astute Laurence in the comedy The Very Thought of You (1998) and
Bassanio in the Michael Radford film version of William Shakespeare’s The
Merchant of Venice (2004, earned a nomination with Golden Satellite).

A trained stage actor, Fiennes has performed in countless productions since
making his debut in the 1993 “The Woman in Black.” Among his notable works are
“A Month in the Country” (1994, with Helen Mirren), “Son of Man,” “Les Enfants
du Paradis,” “Troilus and Cressida,” “The Herbal Bed,” “As You Like It,” “Edward
II” (2001), and “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”
Fiennes’ fans should not miss his performance in the upcoming vehicles, Running
with Scissors (2006) and Goodbye Bafana (2006). In theater, he will make his
comeback to his theatrical roots this year in the one-man play Unicorns, Almost
about World War II poet Keith Douglas at the Old Vic.

Joseph Fiennes was named one of People magazine’s “50 Most-Sexiest Stars” in
1999. An ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, Fiennes is a fervent philanthropist
who is actively involved in a number of charities that focuses primarily on the
removal of poverty and fundraising for breast cancer research. In 2003, he even
jetted to Angola to highlight the work of the Christian Aid charity. As for his
private life, the 36-year-old actor is not married yet though he has been linked
to several women, including actress Sara Griffiths (dated from 1992-98),
Australian musician Natalie Imbruglia (briefly dated in the late 1990s), actress
Catherine McCormack (dated in summer 1999), supermodel Naomi Campbell
(reportedly involved in 2000) and Fiona Jolly (dated in 2001). During the
2002-2003, he lived with Filipina-Australian girlfriend Natalie Jackson Mendoza,
whom he met in Queensland, Australia, while on the set of The Great Raid (2005)
in 2002.


Childhood and Family:

On May 27, 1970, Joseph Alberic Fiennes was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire,
England, UK. His father is Mark Fiennes, a farmer and photographer, and his
mother is Jennifer Lash, a novelist and writer who died from breast cancer in
1993. Along with his twin brother, gamekeeper Jacob, he is the youngest of six
siblings. Other siblings include actor Ralph Fiennes (born December 22, 1962),
director Martha Maria Fiennes (born in 1964), musician Magnus Hubert Fiennes
(born in 1965), producer Sophia Victoria Fiennes (born in 1967), and Michael
Fiennes, a foster brother who is an archeologist.

A Salisbury, Wiltshire native, Joe lived in various parts of England and Ireland
as a child. At age 16, he attended an art college in Suffolk, but dropped out a
year later. After briefly working in a graphic design studio, he flew to Italy
and spent six months working in construction before heading back to England. He
was a member of the Young Vic Youth Theatre for 18 months and also worked as a
dresser in London’s National Theater. He won a scholarship to study at the
Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and, after graduation in 1993, he
began his two-season stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

When not working, Joe enjoys swimming, tennis, horseback riding and
rock-climbing. He also likes driving his Vespa and going for long outdoor walks.
A football admirer, Joe is an avid fan of the English football team Chelsea and
regularly plays the sport in a Sunday football team when he’s home.



After leaving art school and working in a graphic design studio and
construction, Joseph Fiennes began his stage acting career with the Young Vic
Youth Theatre and continued to train at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
One of the winners in the Carlton Hobbs BBC Radio Competition, Fiennes embarked
on his career following his graduation in 1993. He made his West End debut with
“The Woman in Black” (1993), followed by “A Month in the Country” (1994), where
he costarred with Helen Mirren. He was also seen in a “A View From the Bridge”
(1995), opposite Bernard Hill, before becoming a member of the Royal Shakespeare
Company for two seasons, giving well-received performances in such plays as
Dennis Potter’s “Son of Man” (1996-97, as Jesus Christ), “Les Enfants du Paradis”
(1996, played Lacenaire), “Troilus and Cressida” (1996-97, portrayed Troilus),
“The Herbal Bed” (1996-97, played Rafe Smith) and “As You Like It” (1997, as
Silvius). He landed his first TV role in the British made-for-TV film The
Vacillations of Poppy Carew (1995), where he was cast opposite Tara Fitzgerald,
and, a year later, he made his big screen debut with a supporting role opposite
Carlo Cecchi and Sinéad Cusack in the drama film Stealing Beauty, for director
Bernardo Bertolucci.

In 1998, Fiennes’ onscreen career achieved momentum when he won leading roles in
three high profile features. First, he portrayed the role of the sagacious
Laurence in the low-budget The Very Thought of You, a comedy about three pals
who fall in love with an American emigrant, and then was cast as Robert Dudley,
Earl of Leicester, the lover of the titular character (played by Cate Blanchett)
in the rather controversial biopic Elizabeth, helmed by Shekhar Kapur. The actor
gained even more recognition and popularity when he teamed up with lovely
Gweneth Paltrow to star in the Oscar-winning film for Best Picture, Shakespeare
in Love. As the unfortunate novelist William Shakespeare, who lost his muse,
Fiennes offered a mix of strength, charm and gloomy charisma that won him not
only the audience’s attention but also the hearts of critics. The film was a
hit, and as for the actor, he was garnered with several awards, including a Las
Vegas Film Critics Society and a Chicago Film Critics Association for Most
Promising Actor, a Blockbuster Entertainment for Favorite Male Newcomer, a
Broadcast Film Critics Association for Breakthrough Performer (combined with his
performance in Elizabeth), a Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by
a Cast and a MTV Movie for Best Kiss (shared with costar Gwyneth Paltrow). He
was also nominated for Best Breakthrough Male Performance at the MTV Movie
Awards, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at the BAFTA Awards,
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the Screen Actors
Guild Awards and Sexiest Love Scene at the Teen Choice Awards. He rounded out
the decade with a starring turn in director/writer Paul Schrader’s Forever Mine
(1999), which also starred Ray Liotta and Gretchen Mol.

“I withdrew after Shakespeare in Love (1998) and went back to the theater, to
what I know. I went back to what my initial voice was, which was to find a range
and freedom and a creative energy. If that meant not following up with a typical
leading-man role, then that's what it is. I'm an actor, and whatever speaks to
me I will do.” Joseph Fiennes

After the success of Shakespeare in Love, Fiennes rejected a 5 picture contract
from a main studio and disappeared from mainstream cinema. Instead, he decided
to return to theater and appeared on the London stage in the 1998 “Real Classy
Affair.” In 2001, he won acclaim as the title character in the Christopher
Marlowe play “Edward II” and landed a role in War Poet’s “Reading.” Next up, he
was seen in “Othello” (2002) and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” (2003).

Fiennes stepped back into heavy-hitting films in 2001 by taking home a
supporting role in the war drama Enemy at the Gates, starring Jude Law and Ed
Harris. In the Jean-Jacques Annaud-helmed feature, he portrayed Commisar Danilov.
He was then seen as Adam in the controversial romance Killing Me Softly (also
2001), co-starring with Heather Graham. He then offered strong turns as the
newly released political prisoner Stephen in the long-postponed UK film Leo
(2002) and the Germany-born preacher and activist Martin Luther in the
limited-released biopic film Luther (2003). After providing the voice of Proteus
in the animated film Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Fiennes earned a Golden
Satellite nomination for Best Actor for his fine performance in director Michael
Radford’s big screen adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice
(2004), wherein he was perfectly cast as Bassanio, opposite Al Pacino’s Shylock.

In 2005, Fiennes starred opposite Kristin Scott Thomas in the drama Man to Man
and had a feature role as Major Gibson in the John Dahl-directed WWII drama The
Great Raid. Director Finn Taylor recently teamed him up with Winona Ryder to
star in the romance-comedy The Darwin Awards (2006). On stage, the brown-eyed
actor was seen at the Royal National Theatre playing George Dillon in the play
“Epitaph for George Dillon” (2005-06).

Fiennes will soon play the supporting role of Neil Bookman in the Annette Bening
and Gwyneth Paltrow comedy/drama vehicle Running with Scissors (2006) and is
schedule to star as James Gregory, author of the book Goodbye Bafana: Nelson
Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend, in director Bille August’s Goodbye Bafana
(2006). Additionally, Fiennes will revisit the theatre again this year in the
one-man play Unicorns, Almost about World War II poet Keith Douglas at the Old


Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast, Shakespeare in
Love, 1999
Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Male Newcomer, Shakespeare in Love,
Chicago Film Critics Association: Most Promising Actor, Shakespeare in
Love, 1999
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Breakthrough Performer, Shakespeare
in Love and Elizabeth, 1999
Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Most Promising Actor, Shakespeare in
Love, 1998
MTV Movie: Best Kiss, Shakespeare in Love, shared with Gwyneth Paltrow,
I don't know what my limitations are until I reach them. I look for the challenge.More Joseph Fiennes quotes [09/02/2011 01:09:07]
A large part of how an actor works and their process is the stimulation of what's around you, and none more so than in a period piece. This is a modern piece, as much as it is set in a different time, age and myth. If it wasn't relevant, it wouldn't have been made and we wouldn't be putting our energy into it. It's relevant for us today because, in some ways, it throws up a mirror to all of us. As an actor, you get stimulus and you're effected by that, whether it's costumes or funny beards or castles.More Joseph Fiennes quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I've always believed that you shouldn't want to mend a broken heart, because that's someone you don't want to forget. Scars can be good.More Joseph Fiennes quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
Maybe we need more dialogue in terms of our faith, in terms of those who are believers, or even nonbelievers, about that aspect, and what that might mean if you were interpreting. You don't have to believe it; maybe you could draw a metaphor from it.More Joseph Fiennes quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
he challenge is finding the modern conduit for the audience, having fun and really looking at the duality of this particular character, that is both devil and angel, and on the cusp of losing control of the pagan background, to this newfangled religion called Christianity. There's a great backdrop there, and just a whole dark side with the magic.More Joseph Fiennes quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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