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Joseph Fiennes

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Joseph Fiennes
Fiennes in 2018
Joseph Alberic Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes

(1970-05-27) 27 May 1970 (age 54)
EducationGuildhall School of Music and Drama (BA)
Years active1993–present
María Dolores Diéguez
(m. 2009)
RelativesRalph Fiennes (brother)
Martha Fiennes (sister)
Magnus Fiennes (brother)
Sophie Fiennes (sister)
Hero Fiennes Tiffin (nephew)
Sir Ranulph Fiennes (third cousin, once removed)

Joseph Alberic Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes[a][1] (/fnz/; born 27 May 1970),[2] known as Joseph Fiennes, is an English actor of film, stage, and television. Fiennes is particularly known for his versatility and period pieces. Journalist Zoe Williams observed that "he seemed to be the go-to actor for English cultural history".[3] His numerous accolades include one Screen Actors Guild Award and nomination for a British Academy Film Award.

He is known for his portrayals of William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, Sir Robert Dudley in Elizabeth (1998), Commisar Danilov in Enemy at the Gates (2001), Martin Luther in Luther (2003), and Monsignor Timothy Howard in the second season of the TV series American Horror Story (2012–2013). His performance as Commander Fred Waterford in the TV series The Handmaid's Tale (2017–2021) was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2018.

Early life, family and education[edit]

Fiennes was born in 1970 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, the son of Mark Fiennes (1933–2004), a farmer and photographer, and Jennifer Lash (1938–1993), a writer.[4] He has Irish-British ancestry.[5][6]

His siblings are actor Ralph Fiennes; directors Martha Fiennes and Sophie Fiennes; composer Magnus Fiennes; and conservationist Jacob Fiennes, Joseph's twin brother. His foster brother, Michael Emery, is an archaeologist. His nephew Hero Fiennes Tiffin played Tom Riddle, young Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. His cousin is Sir Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes, a decorated English explorer.[7]

Fiennes was briefly educated in the Republic of Ireland, then at Swan School For Boys and Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury. He then attended art school in Suffolk for a year, before joining the Young Vic Youth Theatre. Fiennes subsequently trained for three years at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating in 1993.[8]


Stage and film[edit]

Joseph Fiennes in 2009

Fiennes' first professional stage appearance was in the West End in The Woman in Black, followed by A Month in the Country. He then became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for two seasons.

He made his television debut as Willy in the 1995 television film adaptation of The Vacillations of Poppy Carew. His first feature film was 1996's Stealing Beauty. In 1998, Fiennes appeared in two films that were nominated at the Academy Awards: he played Robert Dudley in Elizabeth and he portrayed William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, receiving nominations for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role.[citation needed] He appeared in Running with Scissors (2006).

In 2001, Fiennes appeared in the film Enemy at the Gates. In 2002, he starred in the independent film, Killing Me Softly.

In 2003, he lent his voice as Proteus in the DreamWorks animated film Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas opposite Brad Pitt. The same year, he starred in the limited-release film Luther, playing Martin Luther, and he also appeared in The Merchant of Venice, in which he portrayed Bassanio. Fiennes returned to the theatre in 2006 to perform in the one-man play Unicorns, Almost about World War II poet Keith Douglas at the Old Vic.

In 2006, he appeared in the films The Darwin Awards and Goodbye Bafana. Goodbye Bafana. Fiennes portrayed James Gregory, author of the book Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend.

In 2023, he appeared in the play Dear England, portraying the England football manager Gareth Southgate.


Fiennes starred in the ABC science fiction series FlashForward, which debuted on 24 September 2009 and ran through 27 May 2010, as Mark Benford.[9] He starred in Starz's 10-part series, Camelot, as the wizard Merlin.[10]

In the second season of American Horror Story, which premiered in October 2012, Fiennes played the role of Monsignor Timothy Howard. From 2017 to 2021, Fiennes starred on the Hulu series The Handmaid's Tale as Commander Fred Waterford.

Personal life[edit]

In August 2009 Fiennes married María Dolores Diéguez, a Swiss model of Spanish/Galician origin, in a Roman Catholic ceremony in Tuscany. They have two daughters named Eva and Isabel.[11] The family reside in Mallorca, Spain near Palma.[12][13]

Charity work[edit]

Fiennes was one of the celebrities to design and sign his own card for the UK-based charity Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. The cards were auctioned on eBay in May 2014.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Vacillations of Poppy Carew Willy Television film
1996 Stealing Beauty Christopher Fox
1998 Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence Laurence Released as The Very Thought of You in the US
Elizabeth Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Shakespeare in Love William Shakespeare
1999 Forever Mine Manuel Esquema/Alan Riply
2000 Rancid Aluminum Sean Deeny
2001 Enemy at the Gates Commisar Danilov
Dust Elijah
2002 Leo Stephen
Killing Me Softly Adam Tallis
2003 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Proteus Voice role
Luther Martin Luther
2004 The Merchant of Venice Bassanio
2005 The Great Raid Major Gibson
Man to Man Jamie Dodd
2006 Running with Scissors Neil Bookman
The Darwin Awards Michael Burrows
2007 Goodbye Bafana James Gregory
2008 The Escapist Lenny Drake
The Red Baron Arthur Roy Brown
You Me and Captain Longbridge Narrator
Spring 1941 Artur Planck
2009 Against the Current Paul Thompson
2014 The Games Maker Morodian
Hercules King Eurystheus
2015 Strangerland Matthew Parker
Psy American man
2016 Risen Clavius
On Wings of Eagles (The Last Race) Eric Liddell
2023 The Mother Adrian Lovell
TBA The Way of the Wind TBA Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2008 Pretty/Handsome Bob Fitzpayne Unsold TV pilot
2009–10 FlashForward Mark Benford 22 episodes
2011 Camelot Merlin 10 episodes
2012–13 American Horror Story: Asylum Monsignor Timothy Howard 10 episodes
2017 Urban Myths Michael Jackson Episode: "Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon"
2017–2021 The Handmaid's Tale Commander Fred Waterford 36 episodes
2019 Fiennes: Return to the Nile Himself 3 episodes
2019 Sherwood Sheriff Nottingham (voice) 6 episodes
2024 Royal Kill List Himself 3 episodes
Fiennes Return To The Wild Himself Two-part documentary; also features Sir Ranulph Fiennes[15]
TBA Dear England Gareth Southgate Four-part drama[16]
Young Sherlock Silas Holmes Pre-production

† released in U.S. as Egypt with the World's Greatest Explorer by the National Geographic.


Spoken word[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1998 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Most Promising Actor Shakespeare in Love Won
1999 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Male Newcomer Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Breakthrough Artist Elizabeth Won
Shakespeare in Love Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Actor Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Male Performance Nominated
Best Kiss (with Gwyneth Paltrow) Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Sexiest Love Scene (with Gwyneth Paltrow) Nominated
2005 Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture The Merchant of Venice Nominated
2008 Cinema for Peace Best Short Film[17] The Spirit Won
2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series The Handmaid's Tale Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Villain Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2020 Nominated
2022 Nominated
2024 WhatsOnStage Awards Best Performer in a Play[18] Dear England Nominated
Laurence Olivier Award Best Actor Pending


  1. ^ This British person has the barrelled surname Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, but is known by the surname Fiennes.


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  2. ^ Wishing Joseph Fiennes a happy 50th birthday!
  3. ^ Williams, Zoe (12 August 2019). "Joseph Fiennes: I've done my bit for society – I've illustrated the patheticness of misogyny". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  4. ^ "It's Raiph actually". The Guardian. 14 November 1999. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  5. ^ "Ralph Fiennes Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  6. ^ "Ralph Fiennes – Biography". IMDb. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  7. ^ Dobson, Jim (2 March 2019). "World Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes And Actor Joseph Fiennes On Their New Adventure Series In Egypt". Forbes. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  8. ^ "Guildhall School of Music & Drama | People who studied at Guildhall". www.gsmd.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Joseph Fiennes Interview: FlashForward". TV.Sky.com. 25 September 2009. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2009..
  10. ^ "Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green Lead Camelot Cast". TVGuide.com. 3 June 2010.
  11. ^ "El amor ourensano de Shakespeare". La Voz de Galicia (in Spanish). 12 February 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  12. ^ Berkowitz, Brittany (17 August 2018). "How 'Handmaids Tale' changed Joe Fiennes' marriage". GMA. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  13. ^ "Actor Joseph Fiennws and Spanish wife Maria Dolores Dieguez renovate country hole in Spain's Mallorca". The Olive Press. 31 January 2022. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  14. ^ Pocklington, Rebecca (6 May 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Jo Brand and more celebrities design and sign cards for UK's first children's charity". Mirror Online. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  15. ^ "Fiennes Return To The Wild". press.disney.co.uk. 11 April 2024. Retrieved 19 May 2024.
  16. ^ "BBC announces Dear England, a new drama based on James Graham's hit play about Gareth Southgate". bbc.co.uk/mediacentre. Retrieved 23 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Standing Ovations in Berlin". KINO (in German). 12 February 2008. Archived from the original on 24 July 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  18. ^ Millward, Tom (7 December 2023). "Nominations in full: the 24th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 13 December 2023.

External links[edit]