The Actor Who Plays Voldemort Is Gorgeous In Real Life

Lord Voldemort is not a very nice wizard. And, at the risk of sounding petty and superficial, he's not particularly easy on the eyes, either.

In fact, if we're really going to go there, He Who Must Not Be Named is cursed with A Face That Really Should Be Avoided, If At All Possible. (There, we said it.) To state the obvious: Voldemort doesn't have a nose, which gives him a particularly reptilian appearance. Regardless of that fact, he still somehow manages to be rather vain. (It's a wizard thing — you wouldn't understand.) In her novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, author J.K. Rowling describes her most infernal creation as being "whiter than a skull, with wide, livid scarlet eyes, and a nose that was as flat as a snake's, with slits for nostrils."

That also perfectly describes Voldemort's appearance in the Harry Potter films, in which the antagonistic mage and Harry Potter arch-nemesis comes hideously to life, thanks to the magic of monster makeup and special effects. You'd never guess that the actor who portrays Voldemort is actually quite gorgeous in real life...  and he's quite a fascinating individual, too.

​He's very shy and very private

Most actors excel at talking about themselves, usually to the exclusion of everything else. Not Ralph Fiennes. "There are things that are... hard for me to talk about," he told Saga Magazine in October 2012. He suspects this has something to do with his working process: "In order to create an emotional life for any character I play, I tend to scan my own life, my own experiences and fit them into the imaginary world my character inhabits," he says.

Paradoxically, this technique makes him clam up about personal matters. Still, he was rather reserved and introverted as a child, too. "I was quite shy, I was never good at sport, I was happiest in the art class," he told The Guardian in December 2011.

Exactly what life experiences did Fiennes draw upon to play Voldemort, a wizard who gleefully tried killing an infant Harry Potter with an Avada Kedavra curse? Alas, it seems the actor prefers staying mum on his process... but we do know a few things about his childhood.

There are plenty of other celebs in his family

One of six children, Ralph Fiennes comes from an artistic family. "There was creativity, for sure, but it always went hand in hand with discipline," Ralph's brother, actor Joseph Fiennes, told The Guardian in March 2016. His mother was Jini Fiennes, the author of six novels, including Blood Ties, a book completed in 1989 but published in 1999, six years after she passed away from cancer and very much due to the persistence (and fame) of her children. His sisters Sophie and Martha Fiennes are both directors, and his brother, the aforementioned Joseph, has appeared in everything from Season 2 of American Horror Story to the acclaimed television drama The Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's masterful 1985 novel.

His family constantly moved around, which turned Ralph into something of a control freak: "I function better if I think everything seems to be in order," he told the Evening Standard in 2016. "It's a way of protecting myself from chaos and the threat of mess, spillage, s**t." He claims this need for control is "absolutely" due to the fact that he comes from a large family that moved fourteen times in fifteen years... but there's a part of him that yearns to embrace the chaos, too: "Enjoy the unmade bed and its rumpled sheets. Enjoy your clothes in a pile on the floor. Accept! ACCEPT!"

Oddly enough, it sounds like he almost didn't accept the role of Lord Voldemort at all.

​It took forever to convince him to play Voldemort

Playing an iconic wizard who slithers around in long flowing robes, perpetuating acts of black magic across the land? Pretty much any working actor would leap at the chance to play Lord Voldemort, but Ralph Fiennes was reluctant and needed convincing. In fact, it reportedly took ages to get him to sign on for the role.

A not-so gentle nudge from one of his sisters pushed Fiennes in the right direction. "I didn't know the books," he told Metro in July 2016 (via Digital Spy.) "I had seen the first Harry Potter film and I didn't feel that sort of material was something that appealed to me." Fortunately, his sister rang him up one day and gave him a piece of her mind: "They've asked you to play Voldemort," she said. "Do you not realize how big this is?" Her kids had been gleefully devouring the books, so Fiennes "suddenly... became aware."

Once he got the chance to wave his wand and cast a few spells, it sounds like Fiennes really started taking to the whole wizard thing — to the point that he traumatized a 15-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, who admits: "Ralph genuinely scared me for a few years."

Meanwhile, the film industry genuinely scares Ralph Fiennes.

​He thinks the film industry 'is too horrendous'

Ralph Fiennes may be reserved, but there's one subject he doesn't shy away from: Hollywood's black, bureaucratic, cutthroat heart. "It can get quite unnerving, when suddenly everyone in the entertainment business wants a piece of you," he told Saga Magazine in October 2012. "It can actually get quite bamboozling at times."

It's a sentiment that he's echoed in several interviews, such as when he pointedly told The Independent in September 2018 that "the film world is too horrendous." Discussing The White Crow, a film directed by Fiennes and written by David Hare, the actor reveals he never intended to appear in the movie, but studio exes forced his hand: "It was something I didn't want to do but I was made to feel my participation as an actor would help to finance the film. ... Finance, money, everything about it hinging on what the distributors feel they want."

He might not sympathize with Hollywood bigwigs, but he does somewhat sympathize with Lord Voldemort. Is this venomous figurehead of pure evil merely misunderstood?

​He's not above defending Lord Voldemort. Hear him out.

Talk about playing the devil's advocate. In loftier moments, Ralph Fiennes dares suggest the fiendish Lord Voldemort actually deserves our pity. The actor believes all that capital-E Evil — what with his otherworldly snake assistant Nagini and, of course, his propensity for murder — can be chalked up to a traumatic childhood and loads of emotional baggage, some of which we'll unpack for you right now.

"Young Voldemort was an orphan and denied any kind of parental affection or love," he told The Hollywood Reporter in July 2011, "so he's been an isolated figure from a very young age." Nevertheless, Fiennes believes there's a ray of sunshine or two somewhere in Voldemort's emotional makeup. Even if you happen to be the darkest warlock in all the land, Fiennes believes that "there has to be the possibility of good in someone, too." 

He suspects Voldemort's capacity for goodness "might have been eroded, repressed, suppressed or somehow distorted within him after he was really damaged." And Fiennes says that he can "understand" the black magician's intense "loneliness," because he doesn't think the villain ever had any sort of romantic life. 

And now we sort-of want to give Lord Voldemort a hug. Except no we don't.

He's been nominated for two Oscars

With such a list of iconic characters on Ralph Fiennes' resume, one would think his home would be brimming with Academy Awards; some displayed on the mantle, others tucked neatly away in the closet for safekeeping, and perhaps one could be proudly situated on a side-table as a some sort of kitschy keychain holder. Alas, Fiennes has yet to win a gold statue, although he's been nominated twice.

Fiennes was nominated for best actor in a supporting role in 1994 for his unforgettable performance in Steven Spielberg's Holocaust drama Schindler's List. In the film, the actor portrays Amon Goeth, the merciless SS commandant (based on a real person) who delights in killing random concentration camp prisoners without remorse. "I felt a kind of sympathy for him," Fiennes said of Goeth, talking to The New York Times shortly after the film's release. "In a way, if you are involved in dehumanizing other people, you yourself become dehumanized." (The film went on to win seven Academy Awards, and earned Spielberg his first-ever Oscar.)

Fiennes was also nominated for best actor in a leading role for the 1996 film The English Patient, but he lost to Geoffrey Rush in Shine

How Ralph Fiennes transformed into Voldemort

Go ahead and thank makeup artist Mark Coulier for bringing Voldemort's hideous visage to the silver screen. In June 2016, the two-time Academy Award winner shed some light on his process in an interview with Bustle: "Designs were done in an art department, then we took a head cast of Ralph Fiennes," he revealed. "They only wanted [Fiennes] in the chair for two hours instead of six hours, so we had to design it around that." (That's due to the inordinately large number of children on set, who can legally work only so many hours in a day.)

Voldemort's nose — or lack thereof — "is digital," Coulier says. "We did eyebrow blockers, so when you look at him, he has no eyebrows." On top of the gruesome artificial teeth and his witchy talons, the makeup department really went to town on Fiennes' peepers: "We did a lot of paint work around his eyes, little tips and tricks that make him look more intense." We imagine he's using the word "intense" as shorthand for "supernaturally unappetizing."

​He can't recall where he cooked up Voldemort's terrifying laugh

That laugh, though. It's safe to say the monstrous Lord Voldemort isn't much of a chuckle factory, nor is he particularly big on guffaws, cackles, sniggers, or even the occasional mirthful chortle. However, he did turn into a bit of a gigglepuss at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, as he (spoiler alert) incorrectly believed he'd finally offed his wizardly rival, Harry Potter. So mordant was his laugh, it even inspired a meme. In fact, there's a surprisingly well-produced remix of Voldemort's guttural snicker that you can listen to at your leisure, perhaps even waving your glow-sticks around like they're magic wands.

Anyway, Ralph Fiennes isn't sure how or why he cooked up that soul-bending laugh. During a School of Life event in March 2017, Fiennes told philosopher Slavoj Zizek that he "can't actually remember what that scene was or why I did it" (via the Irish Examiner.) All he knows is that "it wasn't useful going into it as evil."

Where did he find the actorly motivation for those unearthly ha-has? Well, he evidently imagined Harry Potter as the littlest bug in need of squashing: "I just thought, 'I want to destroy Harry Potter, he is really annoying me and the world will be a better place without him in it'."

​He'd play Voldemort again

Playing the role of a would-be child murderer with formidable magic powers somewhat messed with Ralph Fiennes' mind — particularly considering the fact that he's also portrayed a rogue's gallery of casual sadists throughout his acting career, most notably an SS commandant in Schindler's List and an unrepentant serial killer in Red Dragon.

"You have to go to weird places in your head," he told the Evening Standard in 2016. Asked if he'd ever assume the part again, Fiennes — who has a handsome face and a perfectly gorgeous nose when it's not blanched out by special effects — sounds conflicted to say the least: "Well you can never say never ... [but] I decided I didn't want to be that definition of evil any more. If you play those parts, I feel you have to put your head in the place of that person. And it f**ks with your head."

Nevertheless, if J.K. Rowling suddenly rang him up and said a new Harry Potter was in the works, he'd almost definitely be up for portraying the wizard one more time: "[If] Voldemort came round again, I would feel possessive... protective. I would like to not let that go."