Actor Ralph Fiennes adds another feather in his franchise cap with 'The King's Man'

Ralph Fiennes stars as the founder of the Kingsman secret organisation in 'The King’s Man', the prequel to the Kingsman action comedy franchise. – Photos: Walt Disney Company Malaysia

From Harry Potter to James Bond, Ralph Fiennes has been in some of the biggest blockbuster franchises in history. Heck, he has even voiced a minifigure in the Lego movie franchise.

This week, the 59-year-old British thespian adds another feather in his franchise cap with The King’s Man, the prequel to the hugely successful Kingsman action comedy franchise.

Fiennes plays the Duke of Oxford, the founder of the Kingsman secret agency previously seen in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017).

The story traces the history of the secret agency, following the Duke and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) on a mission that sees them being involved in several events during World War I and coming up against an unknown adversary hellbent on destroying England.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film also stars Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance.

Stop being such a backseat driver, Oxford.Stop being such a backseat driver, Oxford.

The King’s Man is Fiennes’ fourth feature film this year, having starred in critically acclaimed dramas The Dig and The Forgiven, on top of reprising his role as M in the latest James Bond movie, No Time To Die.

However, this may yet be his most fun and entertaining role yet, one that involves some creatively choreographed action sequences and lots of sword fighting, which Fiennes enjoyed very much.

“It was great! I've always loved stage fighting and I've always admired the great sword fights in films form the 1930s and 1940s starring Basil Rathbone or Errol Flynn. I loved Ridley Scott's The Duellists, and his recent film (The Last Duel) had a great sword fight at the end of it,” he enthused during a recent virtual roundtable interview with Asian journalists.

“I do like a good sword fight. I've done some in (theatre productions) Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III, and I did a fencing film (Sunshine in 1999) with (Hungarian director) István Szabó. So when this came along, I was quite excited.”

Harris Dickinson (left) as Conrad and Ralph Fiennes as Oxford in 'The King's Man.Harris Dickinson (left) as Conrad and Ralph Fiennes as Oxford in 'The King's Man.

Fiennes was also attracted to The King’s Man because he believed in its entertainment and emotional value, as well as the comedic action element.

The King's Man is a fun film. It's got humour, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. But I love all forms of film, whether they're comedy or satire or drama,” he said, adding that good entertainment “takes us out of our lives, but also inspires us, teaches us or gives us a moral question”.

Personally, he reckons that his job as an actor is to always strive to do his very best to realise the character as best as possible.

“I came to acting, because I love actors. I love watching actors in films. I believe in the value of how cinema can provoke us, move us, and can teach us about ourselves,” he explained.

“As a film viewer, I love being transported into someone's creation of a character. I love watching Daniel Day Lewis, who is so brilliant in so many roles. I love Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep ... we love them because they transform and take us into the inner world of a character.”

(From left) Director Matthew Vaughn, Joel Basman and Ralph Fiennes on the set of 'The King's Man'.(From left) Director Matthew Vaughn, Joel Basman and Ralph Fiennes on the set of 'The King's Man'.

At the same time, however, Fiennes is not bothered by what critics or other people say about his films and performances.

“I'm as vulnerable as the next person. I like to read a good review, and I don't want to read a bad review. But there are always going to be people who don't like what you do or whom you disagree with,” he said.

“I remember telling a teacher at my drama school: ‘If I do this, maybe they won’t like me’, and he told me down. He said, ‘There are always going to be people who don't like you, so God's sake, grow up!’”

“So, don’t make choices only to satisfy other people's opinions. That's a mad path. Try to know what your beliefs are, and stick to the things that you know,” he concluded.

The King’s Man opens in cinemas nationwide on Dec 30.

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