5 Times Ralph Fiennes Has Been Problematically Hot
Film is an artistic medium that attempts to broach all aspects of the human condition. Sometimes (even frequently) it presents characters that are, to put it mildly, problematic AF.
Often, the actors playing those characters are, to put it mildly, are also hot AF. This is usually the case when it comes to the roles played by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor and verifiably fine-assed human being Ralph Fiennes, who apparently has the sort of face that gets casting directors thinking of moral dubiousness.
In the case of those of us who have a serious “Older British Dude Speaking Menacingly” fetish (I’m not here to name names, but me…I am talking about me here), that can create a confusing and murky cognitive dissonance in which the mind knows the character is Bad, but the sex drive reads the character as Very Fuckable.
And because I don’t feel like I should suffer this condition alone, here is a chronological list of times Ralph Fiennes has been problematically hot:
(For those of you more familiar with Ralph Fiennes’ career, I’m sure I missed some on this list, but these are the times Ralph Fiennes caused me PERSONALLY to have a serious sexual crisis. Voldemort, for instance, wasn’t one of them. Sorry, Harry Potter fans. Just isn’t my thing.)
1.) Movie: The Reader (2008)
Character: Michael Berg
Reason for Problematic Hotness: Nazi-apologist
So, basically, the premise of this movie is that a kid has an “affair” with an older woman (which, with him at 15 and her at 36 is actually rape, but I digress). Then years later it turns out that woman was a straight up Nazi and, in Nazi form, helped kill a shit ton of Jews. She gets tried for letting 300 Jewish women burn to death, which they know about from a written report…but then, because it turns out she’s illiterate, she could not have written the report. So she was a Nazi, who killed Jews in concentration camps, but not those specific Jews, probably. The whole rest of the movie goes on about the poor Nazi woman and her illiteracy and even has our main man Michael recording himself reading books and sending the tapes to her.
Which, to me, sort of misses the point a bit: Nazi-apologetics: not a hot activity.
And yet Ralph Fiennes, with his 60’s-style overcoats and perfect hair, looked hot doing it. Infuriating.
2) Movie: The Hurt Locker (2008)
Character: Contractor Team Leader
Reason for Problematic Hotness: Murder; General War Profiteering
In the larger context of this movie, Fiennes plays one arm of the evils of the military-industrial complex and imperialism for profit – all things which, you guessed it, are aggressively not hot.
The dude is in Iraq as a straight up British mercenary, disguised in the cultural garments of two men he captured and fully intended on ending. When the group comes under attack, he kills his prisoners for the bounty because they’re worth the same dead or alive. That is some next level problematic behavior.
But I’m still sitting here, watching this man be atrocious onscreen, and I can’t stop thinking about his piercing fucking eyes and what his hands must feel like. I need a fucking adult.
3) Movie: The Duchess (2008)
Character: William Cavendish, The 5th Duke of Devonshire
Reason for Problematic Hotness: Being The Worst Husband; Enforcing The Patriarchy; Being A Rapist
2008 seemed to be the main year of Ralph Fiennes’ obnoxiously attractive self-playing fucking awful men.
In this movie, he plays the husband of the titular Duchess (Georgiana Cavendish), who managed to be awesome despite living as a woman in the late 18th Century. Fiennes’ Duke, however, is a total jerk and cheats on her all over the place. Eventually, not satisfied with just cheating, he decides he actually wants to cheat on her with her best friend. And then, makes her live under the same roof with that friend. And THEN, when she’s like: “hey, I want my own lover” he anger-rapes a kid into her and expects her to live happily ever after with him. Honestly, a very bad man who checks a WHOLE LOT OF BOXES on the list of things I hate re: the systemic power abuses of rich, white men. Usually, when it comes to period dramas from that era, I don’t feel particularly compelled by anyone’s aristocratic court story, and this guy is so incredibly bad that he stands out among all the other bad men in shitty wigs. But. BUT..
Ralph Fiennes cheekbones and unwavering stare had me watching this movie with an incredibly angry and reluctant arousal that I resent to this day.
4) Movie: Red Dragon (2002)
Character: Francis Dolarhyde
Reason for Problematic Hotness: Being an Actual Serial Killer
In this volume of the Hannibal story, Ralph Fiennes plays a serial killer called The Tooth Fairy, a family annihilator who has a William Blake-obsessed alternate personality called The Red Dragon.
I don’t think I need to elaborate much more here. It’s An Issue to want to fuck people who kill people. But again. What the fuck am I supposed to do with a ripped as shit Ralph Fiennes running all over the screen quoting Blake? Honestly.
5) Movie: Schindler’s List (1993)
Character: Amon Göth
Reason for Problematic Hotness: Being A Big Ol’ Evil Nazi
So, this is probably the genesis of the “Ralph Fiennes’ hotness causing me deep existential and moral distress” phenomenon.
To my Jewish ass, there’s probably not a more compellingly evil villain than a head honcho Nazi. Like, the kind that killed off most of the people I’m related to.
In Schindler’s List, Ralph Fiennes plays the key Nazi antagonist in one of the most iconic and easily recognizable Holocaust movies of all time. They don’t pull punches or attempt to humanize him. This was just a straight up monster. And what’s more, he’s based on a REAL PERSON, who liquidated the Krakow Ghetto, was commandant of the Krakow-Płaszów and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. Not to mention, managed to be a cruel piece of human garbage on top of it all.
And I’m watching this movie as a kid, and I’m not connecting with the character at all except as a villain, whom I despise completely and ultimately….and. FUCKING. YET. Ralph Fiennes…Ralph Fiennes is still hot. Just physically, objectively attractive.
He’s doing the worst things I can think of and he’s wearing that horrible Richard Spencer bullshit haircut and is making me so angry I can barely see straight and STILL. And from thence, an entire world of confusion and shame and panicked doubt in my basic humanity ensue. Thanks, Ralph Fiennes, YOU GORGEOUS FUCKING MENACE.
BONUS: Problematically attractive sibling edition! In the previews I’ve seen so far for the very well-timed Hulu rendition of The Handmaid’s Tale, Joseph Fiennes, Ralph’s brother, is slated to play none other than Commander Fred Waterford, the literal embodiment of oppressive, dystopian patriarchy…and fuck all if he isn’t looking damn good doing it.