skip navigation
Joseph Fiennes

Joseph Fiennes

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Color Of Freedom DVD Award-winning director Bille August ("Pelle the Conqueror," 1987) takes on the... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Darwin Awards DVD It's comedy to die for when fired police profiler Joseph Fiennes tries out for... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Red Baron (Der Rote Baron)... This sweeping war drama brings to life one of the most feared and revered... more info $26.95was $26.95 Buy Now

Elizabeth DVD As Shakespeare said, "Heavy hangs the heads that wears the crown." That holds... more info $12.98was $12.98 Buy Now

Dust DVD In the sweeping Western "Dust" (1994), two brothers are torn apart by jealousy... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Shakespeare In Love DVD Just where did Shakespeare get his inspiration? According to this wonderful... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Joseph Alberic Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, Joseph Alberic Fiennes Died:
Born: May 27, 1970 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Wiltshire, England, GB Profession: actor, dresser

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Despite the long shadow cast by his older brother, Ralph Fiennes, actor Joseph Fiennes carved out a comfortable niche in compelling independent and foreign features. Like many actors from England, Fiennes studied theater, particularly Shakespeare, where he delved into the finer nuances of his craft while performing the classics. He did struggle, however, in those early years, living hand-to-mouth while performing on the stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company. But he finally emerged to become an international star with his winsome portrayal of a young and lovesick Bard in "Shakespeare in Love" (1998). The Oscar-winning film propelled his profile into the stratosphere, giving Fiennes his pick of projects at that time. But instead of enhancing his newfound stardom, he followed his own path by returning to the stage while churning out a string of often little-seen independents, only to occasionally emerge in larger films like "Enemy at the Gates" (2001), "The Great Raid" (2005) and "Running with Scissors" (2006). Ironically, Fiennes often found himself accosted by the tabloid press for his exploits with various models and actresses, including Naomi Campbell and Catherine McCormack, despite being...

Despite the long shadow cast by his older brother, Ralph Fiennes, actor Joseph Fiennes carved out a comfortable niche in compelling independent and foreign features. Like many actors from England, Fiennes studied theater, particularly Shakespeare, where he delved into the finer nuances of his craft while performing the classics. He did struggle, however, in those early years, living hand-to-mouth while performing on the stage for the Royal Shakespeare Company. But he finally emerged to become an international star with his winsome portrayal of a young and lovesick Bard in "Shakespeare in Love" (1998). The Oscar-winning film propelled his profile into the stratosphere, giving Fiennes his pick of projects at that time. But instead of enhancing his newfound stardom, he followed his own path by returning to the stage while churning out a string of often little-seen independents, only to occasionally emerge in larger films like "Enemy at the Gates" (2001), "The Great Raid" (2005) and "Running with Scissors" (2006). Ironically, Fiennes often found himself accosted by the tabloid press for his exploits with various models and actresses, including Naomi Campbell and Catherine McCormack, despite being intensely private; perhaps a result of him casting off the typical trappings of being a successful and talented performer.

Born on May 27, 1970 in Salisbury, Whiltshire, England, Fiennes was the youngest of six siblings and one half of fraternal twins born to Mark, a farmer and photographer, and his mother, Jini (a.k.a. Jennifer Lash), author of The Burial (1961), The Dust Collector (1979) and Blood Ties (1998). The Fiennes family moved around the British Isles quite a bit, which included a stay in West Cork, Ireland. By his own count, Fiennes had changed schools some 14-odd times. When he was 16, he finished school and attended art college in Suffolk, only to switch to working at the National Theatre as a dresser and eventually performing with the Young Vic Youth Theatre. Fiennes received a grant to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and after graduating in 1993, embarked on his performing career in earnest. He spent two seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which proved to be a mixed blessing. While receiving excellent notices for his performances, including a portrayal of Jesus Christ in Dennis Potter's "Son of Man" (1995), Fiennes was suffering financial distress, paying out more than he was taking in.

Despite the early struggle, he managed to advance his career with turns opposite Helen Mirren in "A Month in the Country" (1994) and Bernard Hill in "A View From the Bridge" (1995). He finally began to climb out from his doldrums with his television acting debut on "The Vacillations of Poppy Carew" (ITV, 1995), which he followed with a noted performance as a young gay man in Bernardo Bertolucci's romantic drama "Stealing Beauty" (1996). Following well-regarded theatrical turns as Troilus in "Troilus and Cressida" (1996) and Silvius in "As You Like It" (1996), Fiennes gained some much-needed momentum when he landed leading roles in three high profile features. In "The Very Thought of You/Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence" (1998), a low-budget comedy about three friends who fall for an American expatriate, he was cast as the sensitive Laurence, who passes his time teaching elderly women how to play bridge. He followed as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who is the childhood love of the eventual Queen of England (Cate Blanchett) in the somewhat controversial biopic "Elizabeth" (1998). In this version, directed by Shekhar Kapur, the relationship between the monarch and her favorite is depicted as a carnal one, which belied the established history.

Fiennes was launched to international stardom with his next film, "Shakespeare in Love" (1998), in which he played a lovesick William Shakespeare struggling to write "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirates Daughter" while embarking on a forbidden love with the daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) of a wealthy merchant. Written by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard, "Shakespeare in Love" won a surprise Academy Award for Best Picture. But instead of capitalizing on the film's success, the atypical star balked at major Hollywood features and instead returned to the London stage to star in "Real Classy Affair" (1998). He rounded out a banner year with a starring role in the romantic comedy of errors, "The Very Thought of You" (1998), but suffered a creative step back with the outlandish comedy thriller "Rancid Aluminum" (2000). Following another acclaimed return to the stage in the title role of Christopher Marlowe's "Edward II" (2001) at the Crucible Theatre, Fiennes was cast opposite Jude Law and Rachel Weisz to form a triangular romance in the WWII-era drama "Enemy at the Gates" (2001). Playing a Russian soldier adept at propaganda, who uses Law's exploits as a marksman to create a hero during the siege of Stalingrad, the actor handled a difficult role with aplomb. He was better served with a leading role in the erotically-charged drama of sexual obsession "Killing Me Softly" (2001).

After strong turns playing a recently released political prisoner in the long-delayed British-made drama "Leo" (2002), Fiennes returned to the historical biopic when he played the German monk and activist Martin Luther in the European production of "Luther" (2003). Expanding his horizons to animation, he voiced Prince Proteus, the best friend of the legendary sailor "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" (2003). After portraying Berowne in Trevor Nunn's superb production of "Love's Labour's Lost" (2003) for the Royal National Theatre, Fiennes made a welcome return to the world of Shakespeare on the big screen, adroitly playing the role of Bassanio opposite Al Pacino's Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" (2004). He next played an army officer stricken by disease after surviving the Bataan Death March in "The Great Raid" (2005), based on the true story of the liberation of the Cabanatuan Prison Camp in the Philippines during World War II. In "Running With Scissors" (2006), he was the 33-year-old son of an unorthodox psychiatrist (Brian Cox) who enters into a sexual relationship with a young boy (Joseph Cross) sent to live with them after leaving his dysfunctional family.

Continuing to take on roles in independent films rather than reach for superstardom, Fiennes starred in "The Darwin Awards" (2007), playing a paranoid obsessive-compulsive former detective a la "Monk" who becomes an insurance assessor and falls in love with his partner (Winona Ryder) while investigating a series of bizarre accidents. Following a turn as the real-life James Gregory, the censor officer and prison guard for Nelson Mandela (Dennis Haysbert) in "Goodbye Bafana" (2007), he played a tough, but muted convict who helps a career criminal (Brian Cox) bust out of prison in the intelligent, but little-seen crime thriller "The Escapist" (2009). That fall, Fiennes made a surprising move to American primetime on "FlashForward" (ABC, 2009-2010), a sci-fi series starring Fiennes as the head of an FBI unit investigating the cause of a mass time travel incident that has shaken up the planet. After that show was canceled following large scale promotion declaring it the next "Lost," Fiennes starred as Merlin on "Camelot" (Starz, 2011), a well-received retelling of the King Arthur tale that was not renewed due to the cable network's logistical challenges with production. Undeterred, Fiennes stayed on the small screen and joined the second season of Ryan Murphy's popular horror series, "American Horror Story: Asylum" (FX, 2012- ), where played an ambitious priest in 1964 who founded a sanitarium run by a sadistic nun (Jessica Lange).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Strangerland (2015)
3.
 Red Baron, The (2010)
4.
5.
 Antonio Vivaldi (2009)
6.
 Spring 1941 (2009)
7.
 Escapist, The (2008)
8.
9.
 Darwin Awards (2006)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Had a peripatetic upbringing, living in various parts of England and in Ireland
1978:
Worked as a dresser at the National Theatre
:
Began stage career with the Young Vic Youth Theatre
1993:
West End debut in "The Woman in Black"
1995:
TV acting debut, "The Vacillations of Poppy Carew"
1995:
Was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company
1996:
Made feature film debut in Bernardo Bertolucci's "Stealing Beauty"
1996:
Offered well-received turns as Troilus in "Troilus and Cressida" and Silvius in "As You Like It"
1998:
Played Robert Dudley, opposite Cate Blanchett, in "Elizabeth"
1998:
Portrayed William Shakespeare, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, in the period romance "Shakespeare in Love"
1998:
Returned to the London stage in "Real Classy Affair"
1999:
Cast as one of three men attracted to the same woman in "The Very Thought of You/Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence"
2001:
Co-starred in "Enemy at the Gates," with Jude Law and Ed Harris
2001:
Cast in title role of "Edward II" at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre; reprised role in London's West End in spring 2002
2002:
Starred opposite Heather Graham in the controversial romance "Killing Me Softly"
2003:
Cast as religious reformer Martin Luther in the biopic "Luther"
2004:
Appeared in the WWII drama "The Great Raid"
2004:
Starred in "The Merchant of Venice," a Shakespearian adaptation set in 16th century Venice
2006:
Played a gay schizophrenic in the film adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' "Running With Scissors"
2007:
Portrayed James Gregory, Mandela's censor officer and prison guard in "Goodbye Bafana" based on the book by Gregory titled <i>Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend</i>
2008:
Cast as the Deputy Sheriff in the London play "2,000 Feet Away"
2009:
Cast as FBI agent Mark Benford in the ABC sci-fi series "FlashForward"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Young Vic Youth Theatre: -
Guildhall School of Music and Drama: London , England - 1993

Notes

"I know more about the characters I play. That's awful, isn't it? I seem to be able to invest more time in dissecting others' thoughts and motivations than in looking at my own. But maybe, in doing that, I can reveal parts of myself."---Joseph Fiennes quoted in the London Times, April 1, 1995.

"I was at a very impressionable age and the whole wild adventure of Ireland is etched on my memory."---Fiennes on his upbringing, quoted in The Irish Times, April 27, 1997.

"My only goal when I went to drama school was to do classical theatre and 'hold hands' with great writers. Now, with film, there is this terrifying beast of publicity which launches you forwards. I wonder whether the speed of my career is being determined through people trying to suck up the new young talent, or by the quality of my work. In film it all boils down to money. You are just a commodity which is manipulated."---Fiennes quoted in the London Times, May 4, 1998.

"... Fiennes clearly does not suffer from the sensitiveness of his famous brother. There are no long, awkward silences while he searches for the right phrase, as if he fears to see it in print. His clear brown eyes are direct and challenging. There's even a touch of laddishness about him ... "---From "The Little Brother With a Big Future" by Garth Pearce in The London Times, April 26, 1998.

Asked to compare working with both Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, Australian actress Cate Blanchett told the London Times (April 26, 1998): "Ralph is very complex and intense, but has a wicked sense of humour bubbling under the surface. Joseph is open, direct, focused and a secret trickster. But both are incredibly beautiful to look at and gifted beyond belief. It is already clear to everyone who has worked with him that Joseph will become every bit as big a name as Ralph."

"My love of theatre was what carried me into acting. The moment ofcollaboration between the actor and an audience, that moment of witness nothing can take my love of that away." He pauses, to think. "But you can't plan what happens next. I just try to keep limber and loose and prepared."---Joseph Fiennes quoted to Brian Logan in Time Out, February 05, 2003.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Sara Griffiths. Actor. Together from c. 1992 to 1998.
companion:
Catherine McCormack. Actor. Dated in summer 1999.
companion:
Natalie Imbruglia. Singer. Dated briefly in late 1999.
companion:
Naomi Campbell. Model. Reportedly involved in 2000.
companion:
Fiona Jolly. Dating as of 2001.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Mark Fiennes. Farmer, photographer.
mother:
Jini Fiennes. Novelist, writer. Died at Christmas 1993 from breast cancer complications at age 54.
brother:
Ralph Fiennes. Actor. Born on December 22, 1962.
sister:
Martha Fiennes. Director. Older.
brother:
Magnus Hubert Fiennes. Musician, composer. Older.
sister:
Sophie Victoria Fiennes. Producer, visual artist, director. Older.
brother:
Jacob Mark Fiennes. Gamekeeper. Fraternal twin of Joseph.
brother:
Michael Emery. Archeologist. Foster brother; moved in with the Fiennes family when he was 11.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute