Actor Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born on December 22, 1962 in Suffolk, England, to Jennifer Anne Mary Alleyne (Lash), a novelist, and Mark Fiennes, a photographer. He is the eldest of six children. Four of his siblings are also in the arts: Martha Fiennes, a director; Magnus Fiennes, a musician; Sophie Fiennes, a producer; and Joseph Fiennes, an actor. He is of English, Irish, and Scottish origin.
A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre. Fiennes first worked on screen in 1990 and then made his film debut in 1992 as Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1992), opposite Juliette Binoche. 1993 was his "breakout year". He had a major role in the controversial Peter Greenaway film The Baby of Mâcon (1993), with Julia Ormond, which was poorly received. Later that year he became known internationally for portraying the amoral Nazi concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993). For this he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. He did not win, but did win the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA Award for the role, as well as Best Supporting Actor honors from numerous critics groups, including the National Society of Film Critics, and the New York, Chicago, Boston, and London Film Critics associations. His portrayal as Göth also earned him a spot on the American Film Institute's list of Top 50 Film Villains. To look suitable to represent Goeth, Fiennes gained weight, but he managed to shed it afterwards. In 1994, he portrayed American academic Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show (1994). In 1996, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Count Almásy the World War II epic romance, and another Best Picture winner, Anthony Minghella's The English Patient (1996), in which he starred with Kristin Scott Thomas. He also received BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations, as well as two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations, one for Best Actor and another shared with the film's ensemble cast.