Villain Spotlight: Ralph Fiennes

You might be wondering where I am coming from with a villain spotlight about an actor, but it’s funny how certain actors can be typecast and then become that type of character in your mind permanently. When someone asks me who might be the worst, most-evil, heinous villain I can think of from a movie I can’t think of one person, but Ralph Fiennes comes to my mind because of his portrayal of a couple of characters. Fiennes has portrayed two of the most malevolent characters I can think of from various movies: Lord Voldemort and Amon Goeth. Lord Voldemort is a name most people associate with terror, and Amon Goeth, whose name you may not recognize, has come to represent all that was horrific and wicked with the Nazis. Fiennes also portrayed a serial killer with none other than Hannibal Lecter in Red Dragon but his roles in the Harry Potter films and Schindler’s List were probably much more memorable, so I will stick with them.

What is it that makes a perfect villain? I am not exactly sure, but for Amon and Voldemort there is a perfect combination of certain elements culminating into their disturbing villain-hood. Their combination seems to be an obsession with ultimate, dictatorial power, a small bit of sociopathic traits, and a deep down suppressed fear of failure and defeat. You might think that this fear should bring you to pity these characters, but I am not recommending that, there should be no pity for these qualities in a person (unless you are Harry Potter himself, and he is the better man). What this recipe sets one up for is a villain who will not only kill in mass quantities without remorse, but someone who deep down gets off on doing just that to flaunt their ultimate superiority.

For Lord Voldemort, the producers of the Harry Potter films combined the perfect amount of makeup and cinematography to create a character so horrendous that you get the chills seeing him on the big screen. The killing spell Avada kedavra slithers from his lips easier than hello. And it doesn’t matter if you are a confidant to him; he will kill ruthlessly and without remorse if you stand between him and his path to ultimate supremacy. What Ralph Fiennes adds to the character that we already feared from the books is that sadistic smile while he does it. His acting just has the perfect supplement to the part leading to a ghastly villain.

And then there is Amon Goeth. The only scarier part of this character when compared to Voldemort is that this character was based on someone who once actually existed. A Nazi concentration camp officer, Fiennes will forever be associated with evil after he played this role. Nazi officers are a common theme in many great and geeky stories, as they are a perfect antagonist for many story lines. From X-Men to Indiana Jones the swastika is a symbol all will recognize as representing evil. But Fiennes’ portrayal of Amon was so cruel, so terror inspiring, and so merciless that he has tainted his face even worse than being pictured as a part-snake man could have done. Amon Goeth is the ultimate malicious Nazi officer, and characters as petrifying as him are hard to come by.

We are talking someone who likes to start off his morning with a little target practice, and with his balcony overlooking a Jewish labor camp, why not start there? Goeth will stop at nothing to establish his power over others, and as such he has earned a spot in my mind as one of the most vile criminals of all time, making my hair stand on end every time I see him in Schindler’s List.

Of course, what this all means for Ralph Fiennes: he has earned my respect as a phenomenal actor who can really get in to his roles, but I will forever think of his as a phenomenal and fear-inducing villain. Hopefully he doesn’t mind being typecast as such.

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Posted on August 23, 2013, in Features, Geekology, Movies, Villain Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. An interesting story:
    One day during filming, one of the real-life Schindler Jews was invited to visit the set. When she saw Fiennes, who was in full uniform, she started to shiver because he reminded her of Goeth himself.

  2. He’s just perfect as a villain..

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