Ralph Fiennes: 'I get angry easily'

The actor, famed for his obsessive approach, has met his match in Dickens, playing Magwitch in Great Expectations and directing and starring in a film about the author. And then there was the time he could have played Bond …

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.
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