Ralph Fiennes Almost Turned Down Playing Voldemort In Harry Potter

Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies

There are certain film villains who are on the upper echelon in terms of being iconic and beloved by moviegoers. Darth Vader is the big bad of space, while Lord Voldemort is a wizard in the Harry Potter franchise who characters fear to even speak of. So when it came to adapting the Dark Lord for the silver screen, Warner Bros. had the difficult task of finding an actor to play the snake-like scourge on the Wizarding World.

Ultimately the great Ralph Fiennes played Lord Voldemort, playing the character for a whopping five Harry Potter movies. Fiennes' performance was layered and super creepy, but it turns out that the Schindler's List actor originally didn't want to take the role of he who must not be named. He recently explained this, and how his family helped him change his mind. As he tells it,

The truth is I was actually ignorant about the films and the books. I was approached by the production. Mike Newell was directing the film that they wanted me to be in… the first time Voldemort was going to appear physically. Out of ignorance I just sort of thought, this isn’t for me… Quite stupidly I resisted, I was hesitant. I think the clincher was that my sister Martha – who has three children who were then probably about 12, 10 and 8 – she said, 'What do you mean? You’ve got to do it!' So then I rewound my thinking.

It looks like we all owe Ralph Fiennes nieces and nephews a big thank you. While he was originally hesitant to join the massive Harry Potter franchise, the younger members of his family were able to convince him otherwise. Because if you can play the villain of the beloved novels and movies, why would you turn it down?

Ralph Fiennes' comments from The Jonathan Ross Show (via Digital Spy) are sure to baffle Harry Potter fans, who have grown to love his performance as Voldemort. Fiennes was completely transformed into the dark wizard, with prosthesis forming his snakelike appearance, while the actor adjusted his voice and posture to fully inhabit Voldemort. As such, it's impossible to think of anyone else playing the adult form of Tom Riddle.

Ralph Fiennes had previously spoke to his trepidation about playing Voldemort. The actor reportedly wasn't a fan of the first two Harry Potter movies, which were directed by Chris Columbus. The franchise took a more adult turn when Fiennes eventually popped up in The Goblet of Fire, which may have been what the actor was hoping for-- especially when playing the most evil Wizard ever.

It should be interesting to see if Voldemort becomes part of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. There are still three more movies on the way, as the timeline gets closer to the one explored in the Harry Potter franchise. Voldemort visited Grindelwald in prison in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, so they've clearly got some type of a relationship. Could Ralph Fiennes end up popping up again as you know who? Fingers crossed.

Ralph Fiennes is currently filming Kingsman: The Great Game, and is expected to reprise his role as M in Bond 25. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.