Ralph Fiennes explains how this adulterous lover is different from his Oscar-nominated Count Laszlo Almasy

By Josh Wolk
Updated December 03, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Ralph Fiennes
Credit: Courtesy Columbia Pictures

In his new movie, ”The End of the Affair,” Ralph Fiennes plays a man consumed by his affair with a married woman. But before you decide that Fiennes is reprising his ”English Patient” role to help erase the memory of ”The Avengers,” you should know it was this very plot similarity that almost kept the 36-year-old actor from making ”Affair.” ”He had a bit of concern, and I as well,” says director Neil Jordan about casting Fiennes. ”But it was obvious this was going to be such a different movie.”

It’s true the two films have drastically different mood and setting. While ”English Patient” takes place against the epic backdrop of the Sahara desert, ”Affair” — which is set in WWII England — limits itself to drawing rooms, pubs, and, of course, bedrooms. ”Our movie is very confined,” says Jordan. ”It’s a bit more like Harold Pinter’s ‘Betrayal.”’ Fiennes agrees: ”’End of the Affair’ doesn’t open out much. It’s all people talking in rooms, with their feelings butting up against each other.” What’s more, this time Fiennes plays a writer named Bendix whose ample thoughts are expressed in voice-over, not a stolid Hungrian count turned cartographer. ”Bendrix is much more articulate,” says Fiennes. ”And as a writer he’s given to examining his feelings in a way that the character in ‘Patient’ isn’t.”

Still, there are some who’ll insist ”Affair” should rightly be titled ”Patient 2.” For them, Fiennes’ costar Julianne Moore has an answer. ”People have the tendency to come up to me and say, ‘You’ve played a lot of artists, what does that mean?”’ she says. ”It’s a coincidence really, there’s no pattern. With ‘English Patient’ and this, Ralph’s characters are both men having affairs, but they’re quite different and go through a different kind of tragedy.”

The End of the Affair

  • Movie
  • R
  • 102 minutes
  • Neil Jordan