Ralph Fiennes Almost Turned Down His Iconic Voldemort Role

He’d have been ‘Potty’ to do it


While no one can play the same role forever, it’s hard to imagine a world where someone other than Ralph Fiennes would ever play Lord Voldemort again in the Harry Potter movies. Fiennes was easily one of the best actors to grace Warner Bros.’ wizarding world, but it could’ve been very different — he nearly turned down the role of the He Who Must Not Be Named.

Although Voldemort appeared in various movies before Fiennes took the role in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Schindler’s List actor put his ‘dark mark’ on the role and carried the Horcrux-mad maniac through to the franchise’s end in 2011.

Speaking to Jonathan Ross for an episode of The Jonathan Ross Show, the 56-year-old admitted, “Quite stupidly I resisted.” He explained to Ross, “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.”

Voldemort Harry Potter
Warner Bros.

Fiennes says his lack of Potter knowledge led to him avoiding the role because he didn’t think it was for him. He continued, “Out of ignorance I just sort of thought, this isn’t for me… Quite stupidly I resisted, I was hesitant.”

Thankfully, it all worked out in the end and Ralph’s sister persuaded him to reconsider: “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.”

Even though Voldemort appeared as early as 2001’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the scarred version on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head was played (and voiced) by Quirrell actor Ian Hart.

Fiennes Voldemort
Warner Bros.

Voldemort only appeared in his Tom Riddle form in The Chamber of Secrets and was MIA in The Prisoner of Azkaban. After this, Fiennes cemented himself as the only one who could play Harry Potter’s archnemesis.

Since starring in the Harry Potter movies, Fiennes has continued his Hollywood legacy in the likes of SkyfallThe Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Lego Batman Movie.

Up there with what-ifs like Robin Williams playing Hagrid, Bob Hoskins playing Professor Slughorn, and Sir Ian McKellen as Dumbledore, we’ll never know what the Potterverse would’ve been like without Fiennes.

[Featured Image: Warner Bros./Sony]

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