Lord Voldemort Responds to Critics

Article excerpt

Byline: As told to Ramin Setoodeh. Fiennes's next film, Coriolanus, opens Dec. 2.

'Blame my childhood,' villain tells NEWSWEEK--as channeled by actor Ralph Fiennes, who reprises the role in the grand finale, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.'

How "evil" is Lord Voldemort? He's a demonic spirit. He's a satanic force. Young Voldemort was an orphan and denied any kind of parental affection or love, so he's been an isolated figure from a very young age.

But I always think there has to be the possibility of good in someone, too. It might have been eroded, repressed, suppressed, or somehow distorted with-in him after he was really damaged.

At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to play him, and I wasn't familiar with the books. I still haven't read Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. After I got the role, I pored over all the references in the books and found the passages where J. K. Rowling described him. Sometimes you can create a character off a real-life person, but often you create something out of yourself.

As it turned out, I very much had a part in the way he looked. I found little physicalities in the role, and something always happened when I put those long, flowing robes on. That's when I felt Voldemort.

I would come to the set in the morning, usually at around 6 a.m., and the whole process would take about two hours. I'd have my scalp completely shaved; they would put sickly reptilian skin on my hands and cover my eyebrows with prosthetic pieces.

In the book, Rowling described his glowing red eyes. I'm really glad they didn't do that in the films. I would have these long fingernails glued on, and I couldn't clench my fists or I'd break them. …