Photo credit: http://www.urban-vacation.com/167/ralph-fiennes-in-shakespeares-the-tempest-showing-at-the-haymarket-theatre-royal-london/
Ralph Fiennes was the first actor I followed as a serious fan.
I genuinely feel that of all the actors I have seen doing Shakespeare live in the theatre or on film, Ralph Fiennes is the one who has the deepest understanding of the beauty and poetry of the verse and the iambic pentameter; and can speak the verse with the most poetry whilst at the same time completely conveying the meaning of the verse to a modern audience. The beauty of his verse speaking is completely on another level.
I was thinking about my favourite Ralph pieces in the theatre, on film and on the television and, ironically, none of them are Shakespeare.
Theatre - Ivanov at the Almeida. I queued for 6 hours on a freezing cold day, having set out at 5am from my home to get all the way across London, to get a day seat in 1997. Ralph introduced me to Chekhov.
Film - Spider. This portrays the return of an schizophrenic adult man, back into the outside "real" world, after he is released from a mental institution where he has been detained since childhood. I love the film and, like Stuart, it will always have a special place in my heart. I will run a feature on Spider in due course.
Television - Lawrence After Arabia. T E Lawrence is my all time hero - he was so complex, such an enigma, but so charismatic and inspirational. Ralph nailed the portrayal. I will be running a feature on T E Lawrence soon!