What Happened To Joseph Fiennes?


In 1998, Joseph Fiennes was on top of the acting world.

He’d just broken out of the not insubstantial shadow cast over him by his big brother Ralph (not to mention his other composer and conservationist brothers Magnus and Jacob, and his filmmaker sisters Sophie and Martha) by starring in ‘Shakespeare In Love’.

The wildly fictional romp was awards season catnip, and it cleaned up at the Baftas and the Oscars, taking home everything from Best Picture to Best Actress for Gwyneth Paltrow.


Those it didn’t win, it was at least nominated in, the exception being Best Actor.

Whether the lack of recognition was too conspicuous by its absence, who knows, but while the 45-year-old actor has been in work ever since, it’s largely been in stuff you’ve never heard of.

Some of his choices post-Shakespeare were certainly a bit dicey – notably the immediate follow-up 'Forever Mine’, an entirely forgotten romantic drama with Ray Liotta, and worse still 'Rancid Aluminium’, an adaptation of the book of the same name by James Hawes.


Despite starring Fiennes alongside flavour of the month Brit actors like Rhys Ifans and Nick Moran, as well as the likes of Steven Berkoff, Keith Allen and Tara Fitzgerald, it was dubbed 'one of the worst British films of all time’.

A brief bounceback in 'Enemy At The Gates’ with Jude Law preceded a decline not necessarily in the volume of his work, but certainly its notoriety.


There was the unknown (but star-studded, see Brad Pitt, Michele Pfieffer and Catherine Zeta-Jones) Dreamworks animation 'Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’, 'Luther’ in which he played Martin Luther, war movies 'The Great Raid’ and 'The Red Baron’ and a historical drama about pygmies called 'Man To Man’.

Then there was the 'Running With Scissors’, the unloved screen version of Augusten Burroughs’ acclaimed memoir, the less well known Nelson Mandela biopic 'Goodbye Bafana’ and a small role in The Rock’s swords and sandals disappointment 'Hercules’.


He also took the lead in an ahead-of-its-time transsexual drama 'Pretty/Handsome’ helmed by 'Glee’ and 'American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, but it was not picked up following its pilot (though Murphy cast him again as the corrupted Monsignor Howard in his the bonkers 'American Horror Story: Asylum’).


His next project might not be the one to buck the trend either – playing Clavius, a Roman centurion tasked with finding the body of Jesus following his resurrection.

Due out next year, it co-stars Harry Potter’s Tom Felton, and is an unofficial sequel to 'The Passion of the Christ’.

He’s also in another 'unofficial’ sequel next year too, a Chinese production called 'The Last Race’, playing the runner and devout Christian Eric Liddell, as depicted in 'Chariots of Fire’.

Read more
Marvel Turn Down Guillermo Del Toro’s Doctor Strange
Jennifer Lawrence To Direct First Feature
Idris Elba: No More Bond Talks

Image credits: Rex Features