'Harry Potter's' Ralph Fiennes Defends Lord Voldemort

Ralph Fiennes Headshot 2011
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

BERLIN - FEBRUARY 06: Actor Ralph Fiennes attend the press conference for 'The Reader' as part of the 59th Berlin Film Festival at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 6, 2009 in Berlin, Germany.

The actor reveals he wasn't sure he wanted to play the young wizard's nemesis at first but says now he can understand the villain's "loneliness."

Is there any defense for Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort?

Ralph Fiennes, who plays the young wizard's nemesis, seems to think so.

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While calling Voldemort -- aka He Who Must Not Be Named -- a "demonic spirit" and "satanic force," Fiennes told Newsweek that he tries to see the good everyone -- even villainous characters like Voldemort.

"Young Voldemort was an orphan and denied any kind of parental affection or love, so he's been an isolated figure from a very young age," he said. "But I always think there has to be the possibility of good in someone, too. It might have been eroded, repressed, suppressed or somehow distorted with-in him after he was really damaged."

Fiennes added that can "understand" Voldemort's "loneliness." His take is that the villain never had a love life and doesn't know what it means to love or be loved.

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"He's all about acquiring power and controlling and manipulating a lot of people," he said. "It can be thrilling and quite freeing to play, because all the rules disappear. "

He added that sometimes kids would come visit the set, and one even burst into tears.

"I felt very good about myself," Fiennes said, arguing that "children should be really scared of Lord Voldemort."

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Fiennes has played Voldemort in four Harry Potter movies, starting with 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and ending with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which opens Friday. He was initially hesitant to sign on for the role, not having any familiarity with J.K. Rowling's book series.

"After I got the role, I pored over all the references in the books and found the passages where J.K. Rowling described him," he said. "Sometimes you can create a character off a real-life person, but often you create something out of yourself. As it turned out, I very much had a part in the way he looked. I found little physicalities in the role, and something always happened when I put those long, flowing robes on. That's when I felt Voldemort."

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To play the villain, he had to shave his head on each day of shooting. He also had long fingernails that would break if he made a fist and reptilian skin that covered his hands. The whole process took about two hours. He's kept the dentures he wore in a jar in his study.

Fiennes added that he doesn't miss playing Voldemort.

"I have a sense of completion," he said. "Everyone was wanting it to come to its grand finale. Some actors enjoy signaling the evil in characters called 'bad guys,' but you want to be a human being first of all. Everyone has the potential to be corrupted. Everyone."