Magazine article Variety

Hamptons Shines Fiennes Spotlight

Magazine article Variety

Hamptons Shines Fiennes Spotlight

Article excerpt

'The Invisible Woman' helmer shares what he learned behind the camera

Ralph Fiennes will be wearing several hats at this year's Hamptons film fest, appearing not only as a star and director, but also as a mentor to younger actors.

Over the course of a career that encompasses memorable performances of such literary icons as Emily Bronte's Heathcliff and J.K. Rowling's Lord Voldemort, Fiennes has always been attracted to darker material and conflicted, tragic characters. In his more recent role as director, he seems to be following a similar muse, tackling the fiery part of a tragic warmonger in his bigscreen staging of Shakespeare's lesser-known "Coriolanus."

His second film as director, "The Invisible Woman," screens at the festival and also hails from a hidden corner of a celebrated writer's past in its story of a young actress, Ellen Ternan (Felicity Jones), who in the 1880s met the famous - and famously energetic and controlling - Charles Dickens and became his secret mistress. (She reportedly bore him a son.)

The project, written by "The Iron Lady" scribe Abi Morgan, reunites its star with "The English Patient's" Kristin Scott Thomas (she plays Ellen's mother) and marked another labor of love for Fiennes.

"But unlike 'Coriolanus,' which I'd wanted to make for a long time, it ambushed me, as I had no idea what I wanted to direct next," he says. "When I read it, I was so moved by the story, especially by the idea of a woman holding the history of a past love and intimacy inside her, like a deep wound she's not reconciled with. I think that's a universal feeling for us all."

Fiennes says that he began collaborâting on the screenplay with Morgan "right away, as I want to keep directing and it was immediately obvious that this should be my next film." The pair also sought input from author Claire Tomalin, whose 1990 biography "The Invisible Woman" formed the basis for the screenplay. …

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