Ralph Fiennes is one of the finest and versatile actors in the international film industry. This academy award winner is known for getting under the character’s skin and making it his own. He is back on the big screen with 20th Century Studios, The King’s Man. Playing the lead role in the movie as Orlando Oxford – The Duke of Oxford, he talks about his character and how well he relates with it.
Fiennes describes The Duke of Oxford as “unapologetically aristocratic” and “devoted to his boy”. “Oxford is a pacifist and the audience will understand why within the first five minutes. The context is the approach of the First World War, and the key relationship in the film, I would argue, is between Oxford and his son, who wants to prove himself in war as a courageous young man. And Oxford’s deep reluctance to see him go to war.”
Fiennes adds that he is familiar with the kind of character he plays, he said, “I feel like I’ve met people like the Duke of Oxford. A certain kind of Englishman who isn’t around anymore, with quietly held chivalric principles. But I also like that Matthew Vaughn (writer and director of the movie) doesn’t—in this era where we’re all sensitive about class and background—shy away from my character’s aristocracy. In terms of someone who is bred and brought up in a certain way, and embodies principles of courage and honour and kindness and service of others; the aristocratic mode of behaviour. So, Oxford is a decent man. Very decent.”
Co-screenwriter Karl Gajdusek describes Oxford as heavily conflicted. He adds, “He’s (Oxford) sworn a philosophical vow of pacifism. However, the events of his life point the other way. So, he’s a man torn between violence and pacifism; between the protection of fatherhood and the need to let go of a young man. That’s pretty much his core.”
On casting Fiennes in the hero role, Matthew Vaughn comments, “When I write, I always have actors in my mind. And Ralph was in my mind. I always thought Ralph would’ve been a fantastic Bond for so many reasons. And when I met with Ralph, it was funny, because he’s incredibly Kingsman in a weird way, in that he’s an incredibly serious man who doesn’t take himself seriously, and he has a wicked sense of humour. But it’s sort of always bubbling underneath a serious subject matter, shall we say. And working with him was a delight.”
Written, directed and produced by Matthew Vaughn, The King’s Man will hit theatres later this month. It features a brand-new cast and characters to the franchise like Ralph Fiennes, Djimon Hounsou, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and more join the saga. The King’s Man releases on January 14, 2022, in English and Hindi in India.