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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 10:02 GMT
Actor Fiennes back in spotlight
Ralph Fiennes
The classically trained star lives in London with actress Francesca Annis
British actor Ralph Fiennes, who is up for a best actor Bafta for The Constant Gardener, has been turning in critically acclaimed performances since Schindler's List won him his first Oscar nomination in 1993.

The eldest of six children, including fellow actor Joseph and director Martha, Fiennes' acting career took off with his Hollywood debut playing Heathcliff in the 1992 film Wuthering Heights, opposite Juliette Binoche.

But it was his terrifying performance as the Nazi Amon Goeth in Oscar-winning Holocaust drama Schindler's List that marked him out as one of the most talented actors of his generation.

Cast by his Spielberg for his "evil sexuality", the actor put on 25lb for the role - principally by drinking Guinness - to portray the cold-blooded camp commandant with chilling conviction.

It is this combination of tortured introspection and suave good looks that has dominated so much of the 43-year-old's much admired acting repertoire.

Wuthering Heights (1992)
Schindler's List (1993)
Quiz Show (1994)
The English Patient (1996)
The Avengers (1998)
The End of the Affair (1999)
Red Dragon (2002)
Maid in Manhattan (2002)
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

So it comes as no surprise that Fiennes became the first actor to win a Tony for the role of Hamlet, amid more than a dozen previously nominated Hamlet stars, when the 1995 Almeida Theatre production transferred to Broadway.

A classically trained actor who researches every nuance of a role, Fiennes has appeared in a string of high profile Hollywood films over the past 12 years.

Robert Redford's Quiz Show saw Fiennes step up to the role of New England professor Charles Van Doren, who famously cheated on the TV show Twenty One, while Strange Days marked an unsuccessful stab at the Hollywood action hero.

The following year saw Fiennes riding high as the emotionally stilted Hungarian map-maker in The English Patient - a role which won him his second Academy Award nomination.

Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener
Fiennes shot The Constant Gardener on location in Kenya

The big-screen film version of The Avengers marked a rare low point in Fiennes' career, and the savage criticism saw the actor retreat into the shadows of arthouse cinema.

In 1999 Fiennes returned to the public glare in The End of the Affair, followed by two disturbing character portrayals in David Cronenberg's Spider and Hannibal prequel Red Dragon in 2002.

Maid in Manhattan was a rare attempt at light comedy, playing a British politician who falls in love with a hotel maid (Jennifer Lopez), but it was not until 2005 that Fiennes once again captured global attention in The Constant Gardener.

Based on the book by John le Carre, Fiennes plays a mild-mannered diplomat determined to uncover the murky origins of his wife's death, winning impressive plaudits.

Ralph Fiennes (r) hams it up with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe
Publicity-shy Fiennes is not typically known for his lighter side

A vocal role in the animated comedy Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and a scene-stealing cameo as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire brought to a close a thriving year for Fiennes.

But despite his success he remains tight-lipped around the media.

The actor lives in London with actress Francesca Annis, 61, whom he first met in 1995 when she played Gertrude to his Hamlet. He was previously married to former ER star Alex Kingston.

See a clip of Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener



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