It was, however, his captivating portrayal of amoral Nazi commandant, Amon Goth, in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993), that made the international market sit up and take note of this talented new-to-films actor.
He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but did not win the Oscar.
Instead, he won the 1994 BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as Best Supporting Actor awards from numerous critics groups, such as the NYFCC (1993), the BSFC (1993), the DFWFCA (1994), the NSFC (1994), the CFCA (1994) and the 1995 ALFS Award for British Actor of Year.
His next film was the forgettable ‘Quiz Show’ (1994), directed by Robert Redford but he followed this with the starring role of Lenny Nero in the successful futuristic thriller, ‘Strange Days’ (1995), set in Los Angeles in 1999.
Also that year, Fiennes won the 1995 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Johnathan Kent’s sold-out production of ‘Hamlet’ (1995).
He went on to play Count Laslo de Almasy in Anthony Minghella’s film, ‘The English Patient’ (1996), an epic World War II drama with Juliette Binoche and William Dafoe, for which he received his second Best Actor Academy Award nomination.
The eldest of eight children, all raised as Roman Catholics, Ralph is brother to actor Joseph Fiennes and his sister, Martha, is a film director.
In 1973, when Fiennes was 11, the family moved to Ireland, living first in West Cork and then in County Kilkenny.
The children were schooled at home but when the family moved to Salisbury, England, Fiennes completed his schooling at Bishop Wordsworth Boys’ School.
He later attended the Chelsea College of Art and furthered his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
In 1987, he joined Michael Rudman’s company at the Royal National Theatre and in 1988, joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he spent two seasons.
In 1993, Fiennes married ‘ER’ actress, Alex Kingston.
Within two years the cracks were starting to show and in 1995, Fiennes began dating Francesca Annis, his co-star in ‘Hamlet’, a woman 18 years his senior.
In February 2006, Fiennes and Kingston separated, after his affair with Annis had been splashed all over the tabloids. Fiennes made his film debut starring as Heathcliff, opposite Juliet Binoche’s Cathy Linton/Catherine Earnshaw, in ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1992).