It’s ‘Rafe’, Actually

Ralph Fiennes long hairWe’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 <em>Nazi</em> 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.

Ralph Fiennes Wuthering HeightsWhere I first noticed how hot he is was in the 1992 performance of Wuthering 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 <em>tortured</em> 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 <em>became</em> 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 <em>ohhhhh my</em>, 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 Ralph Fiennes Oneginrebuffs the love 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 <em>may</em> 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.

Ralph Fiennes End of the AffairWhat I will mention, lastly, is another early film starring Fiennes, and that’s the wonderful End of the Affair. I love that movie, and 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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