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Ralph Fiennes tackles Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus'

The actor makes his feature film directorial debut with the rarely seen political drama, in which he stars as the Roman general.

November 27, 2011|By Sam Adams, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Not all of "Coriolanus'" characters are motivated by such obstinate adherence to principle. The rival general Aufidius (Gerard Butler) is driven by a simple desire for victory, and Coriolanus' mother, Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave), is every bit his equal in blood lust. Although she never raises a hand, it's Volumnia who's the movie's most fearsome warrior, dressed in a double-breasted overcoat and a commando's beret as if she has just returned from the front.

"Vanessa has such amazing inner conviction about anything that she does," Fiennes said. "The great moment was our first scene, where she bandages up my wounds in the bathroom. It was quite simple to shoot, but she was fantastic. She wanted to know exactly how she should bandage it, and then she did this great thing where she wraps it around my body, leans into her son and says a line.

"I could just feel her finding these amazing little nuances, which I knew would be huge on film," he added. "I got very emotional, because I'd been wanting to make it for a long time, and when she came onto set for the first time and spoke those lines, that was my breakthrough."

Early reviews for "Coriolanus" have been strong — Variety said the film "could pass for the work of an accomplished master" — and he and Tana are at work on a future project, although details are not forthcoming.

"I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of him as a director," the producer said. "He came in so prepared, and he loved it. You could just see the excitement."

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