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'The Invisible Woman': Ralph Fiennes on pulling double duty

Envelope Screening Series

December 09, 2013|By Oliver Gettell

Finding the right actor to play the larger-than-life role of Charles Dickens in the new biopic "The Invisible Woman" proved to be a challenge for sophomore director Ralph Fiennes. After his first choice turned him down, Fiennes reluctantly went with a two-time Academy Award nominee: Ralph Fiennes.

At the Envelope Screening Series, Fiennes, co-star Felicity Jones and Times reporter Glenn Whipp talked about Fiennes' working on both sides of the camera.

"He kept on bugging me that he wanted to play the part," Fiennes said, jokingly referring to himself. "I kept saying, 'No, no.'"

VIDEO: Watch Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones discuss 'The Invisible Woman'

Fiennes had previously pulled double duty for his directing debut, "Coriolanus," and wasn't eager to repeat the process, which he described as "mad and crazy and difficult. And when I finished that, I thought I didn't want to do it again."

With "The Invisible Woman," Fiennes said, "I could see that Dickens was a great part on the page, and when I read [Claire Tomalin's] book [on which the film is based] and I knew more about him, I was even more intrigued by him. I could feel the actor in me going, 'Ah, I'd really like to do this.' But I remembered how difficult it was on 'Coriolanus.' It really was crazy."

Fiennes approached another actor to play Dickens (he declined to say who) but was ultimately turned down. "And then I'm afraid, I just said, 'OK, I'm in. I'm going to do it.'"

For Jones, being directed by a co-star — one in full period dress — proved to be an interesting experience as well.

"At times it was as though Charles Dickens was directing," Jones said. "He was everywhere."

For more from Fiennes and Jones on "The Invisible Woman," watch the full video above and check back for more highlights.

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