No one plays a villain like Ralph Fiennes11/19/2022
Ralph Fiennes is the ultimate baddie.
Not the man himself – I’m sure he’s a great guy and he’s clearly a wonderful actor. But he doesn’t half know how to terrify an unwitting cinema-goer to the point of wishing they’d never discovered him and his lovely blue eyes in the first place.
I might be biased when I say he’s almost unparalleled in bringing nightmares to life on screen. After all, I’m part of the generation who grew up hooked on Harry Potter, so when I see Ralph, I get flashbacks to Lord Voldemort himself.
But there’s something about Ralph’s villains that bring an extra layer of terror with them, whether he’s playing a monstrous serial killer like Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon, a serial cheater like William Cavendish in The Duchess, or just a mean-spirited little stop-motion bloke in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Even from the beginnings of his on-screen career, Ralph’s been cast as some of the most notable villains of all time; his third ever credited role was in 1992 as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and the following year, he was trusted with the chilling portrayal of war criminal Amon Göth in Schindler’s List, a role that has gone down in film history.
Now, in his new comedy thriller The Menu, he’s back to his villainous ways, but with a terrifying new twist.
Warning: Minor spoilers for The Menu ahead.
Ralph stars as celebrity chef Julian Slowik, who invites a group of wealthy guests, including Anya Taylor-Joy’s Margot and Nicholas Hoult’s Tyler, to his remote gourmet restaurant – and has some unexpected turns along the way for them.
Without spoiling too much, Ralph’s character is not the kindest or most approachable guy to say the least. But like his other villains, he adds another layer that makes the character all the more terrifying.
As a pained artist, Julian has to go that extra mile to make his work stand out and leave a lasting impression, a decision that has some seriously shocking results.
Under any other circumstances, it might all seem a little too ridiculous. But Ralph, who was far and away the best part of the film for me, draws you in in a way that makes you think maybe, just maybe, he could be capable of it all.
Ralph didn’t just perfect his own character though. Producer Betsy Koch gave us an insight into how he worked, revealing that his notes played a key part in changing the whole ending to the film.
‘It was still the same spirit. It was just a slightly different twist on it. I feel like this one feels a little more emotional and is a little more rooted to character which is a great thing,’ Betsy said.
‘Ralph had a lot of great notes on that final scene too, we incorporated some of his notes. That final sequence, he tied it more into his character in a really smart way, in a really thematic way.’
It seems typical of Ralph as an actor that his deep understanding of his character could have such an impact on the entire film.
Of course, he’s not only been limited to villains, playing some incredible dramatic and comedic roles and often bringing those to his baddies too.
And he’s certainly not the only actor to have played iconic villains pitch perfectly – there are too many to mention.
But, as will all things, sometimes it’s helpful to have a little reminder in life to go and watch a Ralph Fiennes film and see a master at work.
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