Interview: Ralph Fiennes on 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'

Fiennes on the 'Harry Potter' Franchise and Playing a Truly Evil Character

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Warner Bros.

2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire finally revealed the face of Potter's ultimate villain, Lord Voldemort, played by Oscar-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes. In 2005, Fiennes spoke to About.com about playing the series' ultimate villain in the fourth installment of the series.

On the Pressure of Playing Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

I kind of, the hype for that, for this particular Harry Potter film…I don’t really feel it.

I don’t really feel. I mean, I’m told about the hype. I don’t have a fan’s investment in the books myself. I like the books. I admire the world of the books and the characters that she’s created, but I’m not, as it were, an addict of Harry Potter. So I guess I don’t feel that sort of thing where you feel slightly possessive about something. I don’t feel that.

Did He Read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire while preparing for the role?

I did, yeah, but I was only interested in my scene and I had to go through thousands and thousands of other scenes which I did, dutifully, get through. I got my scene and I read it many, many, many, many, many times and that was my research.

Working on the Set:

I think a bit of me on the Harry Potter set is like a kid sort of entering into the fantasy set that when you’re young you watch those movies, and you kind of, it all becomes... The sets were fantastic.

The Harry Potter sets are brilliant. When you walk on to them they just are amazing. …You do get transported for a second.

On Playing a Truly Evil Character:

Well, that was one of the blessings of, you know, a part like this where you’re meant to be playing the distillation of evil, whatever that is, which can be anything.

I got, you know, lots of takes to... I think the one thing we were aiming for was a sort of question, a certain amount of unpredictability in him, so no one quite knows what he’s going to do next or say next, which I hope makes him slightly sort of dangerous.

I can’t go and shoot people in the back of the head because it’s a kids’ movie. I mean, I have to find a way of doing with within sort of the vehicle that it is, which is actually quite a good test because you haven’t got the overt threat of, you know, a knife in the face or something really horrible like that. This is all in the threat that you create.

I like that though. …I guess there’s a challenge to playing these fantasy figures because, you know, they are fantasy figures so you have to somehow enter into this sort of imaginative world of the writer.

On Working with Harry Potter Star Daniel Radcliffe:

The poor guy had to be sort of in the grip of a statue of death holding him…while I pranced about telling him how evil I was and the genius I was, threatening him. And he had to go, "Aagh, aagh, aagh," and I had to go [in an evil laugh], "Ha-ha-ha-ha." He was great.

Comparing His Work in Indie Films to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

Well, the atmosphere of the movie is completely different. They have so much money on Harry Potter that they can take their time. You know, you can get three or four set-ups a day and things are very leisurely, and it’s also compounded by the fact that the children have different hours to the adults. So, it’s a whole different [mindset]. On [The White Countess], you know, a Merchant Ivory film, it’s quite hard to finance this kind of films, so there’s a sort of pressure to move through the day and get it done.

I really believe, though, in a way the more you’re sort of pinched by resources and time and money you have to commit, you have to connect, you have to just dive over the edge. You haven’t got time to mess about. Although I was grateful to have two weeks to shoot this one scene in Harry Potter.

It’s a big, big scene, but they have to deliver. And, as I’m continually being made aware by everyone I talk to, they have high expectations.

Edited by Christopher McKittrick