Ralph Fiennes as M

Award-winning actor Ralph Fiennes, who took over as ‘M’ in Skyfall and fully embraced the role in Spectre, has returned back to the world of spying and espionage, but this time in a movie which is based a true story.

Fiennes recently started work on the new thriller Official Secrets, which commenced location shooting on 12th March, 2018, in Yorkshire, England. He is playing a character named Ben Emmerson. Ralph’s co-stars are Matthew Goode, Keira Knightly, and Matt Smith. Other stars involved in the film include Roger Alton, Tamson Greig, and Rhys Ifans.

Directed by Matthew Goode (Eye in the Sky), the new movie tells the true story of British GCHQ Intelligence whistle-blower Katherine Gun (played by Keira Knightly) who, in her job as a translator, became uneasy about what she felt was illegal British and American espionage activity in relation to the United Nations in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War. After leaking classified material to a journalist working for the UK’s Observer Sunday newspaper, Goode was arrested and charged under the UK’s Official Secrets Act (OSA), but the case was later dropped.

Location shooting on Official Secrets has included the famous town of Boston Spa in Yorkshire and, shortly afterwards, the production moved to Manchester (which was doubling for London).

Fiennes, who is a major star of both stage and film, remains as busy as ever. As he has acknowledged in interviews, the ‘healthy’ financial deal he has received from the EON franchise, together with a similar lucrative deal from playing Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, has given him greater freedom to accept lower-paid theatre work, and this has made him one of the UK’s best-known stage actors. This has seen him take roles in productions such as Shaw’s Man and Superman at the National Theatre and Ibsen’s The Master Builder at the famous Old Vic Theatre. More recently, he played a critically-acclaimed role as the King in William Shakespeare’s Richard III at the Almeida Theatre in London. Fiennes clearly relished the role. Later this year, he is also due to take the lead in another Shakespeare play, appearing in Anthony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre in London alongside Sophie Okonedo.

And cinema work continues to help him realise his stage ambitions. He recently played the role of arch-villain Professor Moriarty in the new Sherlock Holmes movie Holmes and Watson (2018), which is currently in post-production. There is every expectation that he will return as ‘M’ (Gareth Mallory) in the next James Bond adventure, which is due to start production later this year. When he took on the role in the Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall (2012), it was rumoured that Fiennes had signed a three-picture deal, which gave him the option of returning as ‘M’ in Bond 25 if he so wished.

His return as ‘M’ in the next Bond adventure (which will probably be directed by Danny Boyle) thus looks highly likely, and would be warmly welcomed by both Daniel Craig and the 007 producers.

Did You Know?

In 2014, Fiennes confirmed in an interview a long-standing rumour that he himself was once considered for the role of James Bond, but he said he felt that he would have made a ‘terrible’ 007. Fiennes said he had met producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli twenty years previously to discuss the part: ‘There was a conversation that was great and a meeting with Cubby Broccoli that was terrific. I think that’s all I can say, except that it didn’t lead to anything on both sides. I don’t think I felt ready to commit and I think they were looking at Pierce [Brosnan]’.

Fiennes added: ‘I think I would’ve been a terrible Bond, actually. I think I’m happier playing ‘M’. And I think Daniel Craig is a brilliant Bond’.

Ralph Fiennes as ‘M’ (Gareth Mallory) in his MI6 HQ office