Ralph Fiennes could have been a diplomat in a previous life – the low, patrician voice, and the clothes. He is dressed on the morning we meet with an elegance that would not disgrace a Frenchman: neat cardigan, fresh shirt, polished boots. We are in Soho, in post-production offices – an editing suite like a gone-wrong sitting room, with a bank of computers at right angles to a sofa.
He is, by a month, on the youthful side of 50. And he has a smile of such disarming sweetness that the first impression is that something has gone bizarrely wrong. It is only retrospectively that the oddity makes sense: what he does best as an actor is torment.