Written by Elise Chamberlain

Ralph Fiennes admits he was a “bit mad” to act in and direct his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.

AfterLeicester Square premiered his directorial debut as part of the London Film Festival, award-winning Fiennes explained how he dealt with the challenging role of being both behind and in front of the camera.

Fiennes said this split role was made doubly difficult by the time pressure of getting the film, shot in Belgrade, Serbia, completed in only eight weeks.

“It was nervy and adrenalized to begin with, there were moments when it was, I hesitate to use the word fun, but exhilarating,” he said.

“It wasn’t long and evolved, I would have loved it but it just wasn’t possible.”

Fiennes revealed the team around him made the task of directing and acting less daunting and confessed he turned to his sisters, both of whom work in the film industry, for directorial advice.

He added: “If you have that support system and you try and be as prepared as you can, it’s possible.”

Coriolanus, one of Shakespeare’s lesser known tragedies tells the story of a Roman warrior who, after being exiled, joins with enemy forces and vows revenge against his own people.

To create his Coriolanus Fiennes, playing lead character Caius Martius Coriolanus, worked alongside screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator) and acting legends Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox.

Fiennes gushed about his admiration for Vanessa Redgrave saying she had always been the dream choice to play his on-screen mother, the formidable Volumnia.

He said: “I had been a fan and admirer, she always moves me hugely whenever I see her.”

When questioned about what it was like to film in Belgrade Fiennes could not praise the people enough, acknowledging their welcoming attitude and support of local police.

“Whoever was responsible for the location, it was a stroke of genius,” added supporting actor Brian Cox.

“Serbia has an atmosphere you can soak up.”

Fiennes denied that Serbia’s history had influenced his decision to film in Belgrade saying instead that the city had the existing film infrastructure he was seeking.

He did however confirm modern-day conflicts had influenced his remaking of Shakespeare’s war-tornRome.

“In putting it together it was all kinds of upheavals, whether it was in recent wars, in Iraq or Chechnya or even conflicts in Columbia, they’re all informed the sort of modern context for it.”

He concluded by praising the hospitality of the people of Belgrade who allowed the crew access to their parliament to shoot from inside a real senate chamber.

He said: “It was a great experience; all the doors were opened for us.”

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.