Ralph Fiennes on Dickens, Shakespeare and Bond

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[December 26, 2013]  By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) From Shakespeare to "Harry Potter" to the new head of MI6 in the "James Bond" film franchise, Ralph Fiennes has mined the complexity of his characters.

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Q: You've played both heroes and villains, from Shakespeare's Romeo on stage to J.K. Rowling's deadly Lord Voldemort in "Harry Potter." Which do you enjoy better?

A: I don't want to play any more villains, I don't enjoy playing them, I've done it. I enjoy playing complicated people. We talk about good guys and bad guys, but it's reductive. I think I wanted to be an actor because of Shakespeare, and Shakespeare's characters are full of ambivalence and ambiguity. They start out as one thing and end up another, so if there's an interesting journey for a character and the audience have to work hard to follow the path of a character, I like that.

Q: You're well known for your portrayals of Shakespearean leads on stage, but how has Shakespeare evolved for audiences now?

A: My sense is that it's going to be harder and harder for younger people to feel excited by the brilliant, athletic complexity of Shakespeare's language, which for so many centuries has excited people by its beauty and its accuracy and its inventiveness of English, which is so extraordinary.

But we learn in times where English is so reduced by the ... awful communications of Twitter and Facebook that people are dumbing themselves down. The delight of expressing yourself in language or listening to someone, that's being diluted.

Q: You're going to be in the next installment of the James Bond franchise as the new head of MI6. Can you tell us any more about the new 'M' or the film?

A: I can't, I know nothing, I've not been told anything, I have no information, no dates, no sense of the journey of my character at all! I don't!

(Editing by Mary Milliken and Andrew Hay)

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