He turned in a wonderful comic performance in Mr. Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and he enjoyed playing Lord Voldemort, once Martha explained who the “Harry Potter” villain was and told him it was a “stonkingly vast, mega, mega part.” Her middle son, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, plays a young Tom Riddle, who becomes Voldemort, in the films.
“I was a bit sniffy, I think, initially,” Ralph said. “I thought, ‘Oh, this is a children’s fantasy thing. I’m not sure.’” (Martha noted that when Ralph was 7, he was reading T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.”)
He said his proudest moment was when he walked past the 4-year-old son of the script supervisor on the “Harry Potter” set, as Voldemort, and the child burst into tears.
Mr. Fiennes bristles at the kerfuffle over J.K. Rowling.
“J.K. Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centered human being,” he said. “The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling. I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, über-right-wing fascist. It’s just a woman saying, ‘I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.’ And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman.”
He’s not angry that James Bond got killed off after 25 films, possibly putting Mr. Fiennes out of a job as M.
“I thought it was a bold and strong decision,” Mr. Fiennes said. “You know, they might reboot everything and they might want a woman back as M. Every single film after I took over from Judi Dench, she upstaged me. They always had her voice, a recording or a portrait. I’m like, ‘Look, can I be M, Judi?’”