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Ralph Fiennes Explains Why He Now Prefers Directing To Acting At London Film Festival Talk

By Cameron Sinz | Indiewire October 21, 2013 at 11:35AM

In his recent transition from acting to directing, Ralph Fiennes was able to surprise many with the sheer audacity of his modern day, Middle East-set take on Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" in his 2011 directorial debut. Now, just two years later, Fiennes has returned to directing with "The Invisible Women," a retelling of Charles Dickens' affair with 18-year-old Ellen Ternan midway through his life.
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The Invisible Woman

Finding the humanity inside the film's period piece wrappings.

"With a period film or a costume drama, there are so many great stories set in the past and I think every time anyone takes on a period drama we have a certain feeling about different periods. The second World War is done a lot and the Jane Austin time is done a lot and Shakespeare as well, so how do we get inside the picture of the bonnets, the collars, and this? Because they are like us. These people are like us and they are living, breathing, eating, sleeping, sexually active, defecating people like us and we must feel that humanity pulsating inside of them.

"I was allowed to see a [Victorian] family album, and the family had had these early photographs taken of them maybe through a couple of decades and it was fascinating to see the aging of the young husband and wife, then the first child and then the first two children three or four years old and then teenagers. You could see the aging happening in their faces and this thing that I'm talking about, you could see it... you can see the wrinkly skin and the unshaven bits, and I was trying to get that so that it wasn't a picture book. It's also the way we shot it just to feel we were in a way, even though we knew the manners habits and taboos were all important, but we knew that essentially the beating heart and the living body beneath that is us today. And so to break through the sense of period, which I think can get in the way."

Future plans and whether he prefers directing or acting.

"The truth is I don't know. I finished this film and then went off to do two acting roles which I've only recently finished, so at the moment I'm enjoying a period of reading material, reading and thinking of ideas for things and it's the first time in a while that I feel like I like that I don't know what I'm going to do next.

"I feel like I just got my proverbial foot in the door as a director, and I've loved the experiences I've had. I think that if you put a gun to my head, I'd have to say that I'd like to direct."

This article is related to: Ralph Fiennes, The Invisible Woman, London Film Festival, Interviews





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