What’s In a Name? Ralph Fiennes Talks About The Origin of His Name

Shakespeare puts it best when he said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

But why then do actors change their names or use stage names? Maybe it’s because an actor’s name is one of the ways in which they market themselves. I’m sure we still would have loved Western movies if they starred Marion Morrison, but it’s hard to deny that John Wayne has a little more flair. Certainly Samuel L. Jackson would be the same great actor if he was just Samuel Jackson, but now that the L. has been engrained into our brains, there’s no changing it.

Ralph Fiennes, noted for his countless performances in films like The English Patient (1996) has dealt with a few problems regarding his name. Fiennes portrayal of the villain Voldemort from the Harry Potter films has introduced him to a new generation of moviegoers, but it can be hard for fans and interviewers to say his name correctly. His name is pronounced RAYF FYNZ.  In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Fiennes shared that he was named after his step-grandfather, who pronounced his name the same way. While he feels changing the spelling of his name could have saved him some grief, he feels connected to his name and figures at this point it’s too late to change it.

Fiennes who has played in film and on the stage brings the both together. The actor stars and directs his latest film Coriolanus (2011), a tragedy by William Shakespeare. He stages the film in the present day with all of the visual special effects we have come to expect in cinema, but he keeps the words of Shakespeare. Fiennes told THR that he felt strongly about the drama and the role. He feels that directors have inspired him in the past to the point where he really wanted to experience directing for himself.

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