The era of British actors putting on accents to play foreign characters is over, according to Ralph Fiennes, who speaks entirely in Russian in his latest film.
Fiennes has directed The White Crow, a film about the early years of Rudolf Nureyev, and also appears on screen as a dance teacher. Nureyev is played by a Ukrainian dancer, Oleg Ivenko.
Speaking about his international cast, Fiennes said: “I feel that the days when English-speaking actors put on accents and tell the world that they are Russian or German or Swedish or Italian – I feel, personally, those days are gone.
“One has read quite a lot of critical responses to films that are still doing that, where people go, ‘Haven’t we had enough?’ I think the landscape has shifted.”
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m actually the anomaly – I didn’t want to be in the film. I looked at wonderful Russian actors to play the part I play, but someone said to me, ‘The people who invest will want to see that there is some kind of international name there.’
“So I folded. I break my own rule. But I do speak Russian. I myself speak very limited Russian but I have enough to build on to speak the dialogue that I did in the film.”