Ralph Fiennes talks admiration for Dickens

Since taking up the job of both directing and starring in the movie The Invisible Woman – a biopic about Charles Dickens and his relationship with Ellen Ternan – and occupying the role of Abel Magwitch in the most recent adaptation of Great Expectations, Ralph Fiennes has made no attempts to shy away from his admiration for the famous English writer.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Fiennes said that Dickens still “preoccupied [him], as a person” and that “the psychology of him fascinates [him].”

The title of the movie itself refers to Ternan, the woman whom Dickens fell so desperately in love with that he divorced his wife for. In attempts to protect his image as the perfect gentleman, Dickens hid Ternan from the public eye and kept their entire relationship private. For Fiennes, that was what captured his interest.

Fiennes told the Times, “The hook for me was Nelly [Ternan]. I was moved by what that woman must have gone through. To me, she was the reason to make the film.” He went on to discuss how for such large enigmatic figures in history, sometimes seeing them through the eyes of another could be more beneficial.

Dickens, who was known for immersing himself in his characters while writing, proved to be an inspiration for Fiennes. “It’s said that when he was writing his novels, he used to go to the mirror and perform for himself to try to find a particular expression,” said Fiennes. “In a good novel, I feel that the writer has done a sort of interior imagining that’s very similar to what the actor does.

The poster for The Invisible Woman was recently released, and the movie will be in theaters starting February 7.