The English Patient: About The Cast

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RALPH FIENNES plays the Hungarian Count Laszlo de Almásy, a linguist and noted expeditioner who has charted unexplored regions of the Sahara. An exceptionally brave, severe and complex man, Almásy falls deeply, uncontrollaby in love with his colleague's beautiful wife, allowing their passion to overwhelm his life.

The mid-1990s have marked the emergence of Ralph Fiennes as one of his generations' leading actors. Born in Suffolk, he grew up in England and Ireland and graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1985. He began working professionally at the open air theater in Regents Park. In 1988 he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company where he remained for two seasons giving notable performances in "Henry VI," "King Lear" and "Love's Labour's Lost."

In 1991 Fiennes landed a small but notable role in the award-winning TV series "Prime Suspect," which led to his being cast as Lawrence of Arabia in David Puttnam's television special "A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia." This was followed by a new version of "Wuthering Heights" opposite Juliette Binoche for Paramount. Though the film did not achieve great public success his performance was applauded for its icon-shattering interpretation of Heathcliff. He next made a film for television, "The Cormorant," directed by Peter Markham and was then cast in "Schindler 's List."

As the SS Commandant in Steven Spielberg's drama, Fiennes received a full measure of the film's acclaim. He was cited as the year's Best Supporting Actor by the film critics of New York, Boston and Chicago, as well as the National Society of Film Critics. He was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and in England received the British Film and Television Academy's (BAFTA) Award in the supporting category and the London Film Critics Award as Best British Actor of 1994.

He next co-starred in "Quiz Show," directed by Robert Redford, after which he returned to the stage in the highly acclaimed production of "Hamlet" which came to Broadway from London. For his performance Fiennes won the 1994 Tony Award as Best Actor. His most recent film, released in 1995, was the futuristic thriller "Strange Days" directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

JULIETTE BINOCHE is Hana, a beautiful young Canadian nurse and survivor of the war who retreats to an abandoned Italian monastery to cope with her emotional wounds and tenderly care for her dying patient.

Since Juliette Binoche left the Conservatoire de Paris in the city where she was born, she has become an international star working in English as well as her native tongue.

Juliette began her film career with "Je Vous Salue Marie" ("Hail Mary") directed by JeanLuc Godard in 1983, and then appeared in "La Vie de Famille," Andre Techine's "Rendezvous" and Leos Carax's "Mauvais Sang."

In 1986 she starred in her first role in English opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Philip Kaufman's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." In 1991 she starred in "Les Amants de PontNeuf," directed by Leos Carax, and also appeared in Mike Figgis' "Men and Women" and in "Wuthering Heights" opposite her "English Patient" co-star Ralph Fiennes.

In 1993 Juliette co-starred with Jeremy Irons in Louis Malle's "Damage," and also starred in Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Blue." For her performance in "Blue," she won a Caesar, France's top acting prize, the Venice Film Festival Best Actress Award and a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress.

Juliette's most recent films are "Le Hussard Sûr Le Toit" ("The Horseman on the Roof") directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, and Chantal Ackerman's "A Couch in New York," in which she co-stars with William Hurt. Her theater roles have included Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," in a production directed by Andrei Konchalovsky.

WILLEM DAFOE plays Caravaggio, a charming and shrewd thief turned Canadian secret agent. Now working with the Army at the end of the war disarming local partisans, he arrives at the monastery and develops a special interest in Hana's patient.

Willem Dafoe has appeared in over two dozen films. In addition to his film work, Defoe has been a core member of The Wooster Group, the internationally acclaimed theater company, since 1977. Dafoe continues to create and perform original theater material and media pieces with the The Wooster Group at the company's home base, The Performing Garage in New York City, and tours with the Group throughout the world.

Dafoe made his screen debut in 1980 in Kathryn Bigelow's "The Loveless," followed by Walter Hill's "Streets of Fire," and William Friedkin's "To Live and Die in LA." He went on to earn an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Oliver Stone's "Platoon."

Among Dafoe's other varied and diverse film roles are Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ," Alan Parker's "Mississippi Burning," Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July," Robert Young's "Triumph of the Spirit," David Lynch's "Wild At Heart," Wim Wenders' "Faraway, So Close," "White Sands," and Paul Schrader's "Light Sleeper."

In addition, Dafoe starred with Harrison Ford in "Clear and Present Danger," and opposite Miranda Richardson in "Tom and Viv." He stars in the upcoming "Victory" based on the Joseph Conrad novel, and is currently filming "Speed 2" opposite Sandra Bullock.

KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS plays Katharine Clifton, the beautiful, aristocratic, elegant wife of a British official unable to reconcile the affection and love she feels for her husband with the fierce, impassioned, all-consuming love affair she carries on with Almásy.

Kristin Scott Thomas made an indelible impression on audiences in two films that were released in 1994, Roman Polanski's "Bitter Moon," in which she played a spiteful, vengeful wife, and Mike Newell's "Four Weddings and a Funeral" in which she appeared as a supremely elegant and beautiful young Englishwoman with an unrequited passion for the film's hero Hugh Grant. For her appearance in "Four Weddings and A Funeral," Kristin won two of England's most important acting prizes, the Evening Standard Award and the British Film and Television Academy's (BAFTA) Best Supporting Actress Award. For her performance in "Angels and Insects" Kristin won the Evening Standard 1996 Best Actress Award.

Kristin was born in Dorset, England and educated at the Central School of Speech and Drama and in Paris at the Ecole Nationale des Arts et Techniques de Théatre. She made her film debut opposite the rock star Prince in "Under the Cherry Moon," then appeared in a series of French films and theater pieces by such authors as Marguerite Duras and Roland Dubillard.

In 1988 Kristin was cast in the leading role in Charles Sturridge's screen adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's "A Handful of Dust" and won the Evening Standard Award as Best Newcomer. That same year she appeared on television in the Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation of "The Tenth Man." A mix of films in French and English followed including "Force Majeur," "Titmus Regained," for the BBC, Bryan Forbes' "Endless Game," "Aux Yeux du Monde," and "Body and Soul."

In 1994 Kristin starred in Lucien Pintail's "Unforgettable Summer," which was made in Romania. She has appeared in several recent films--"Richard III" starring Ian McKellen, Philip Haas' "Angels and Insects," for which she won the Evening Standard Award as Best Actress, and Brian De Palma's "Mission: Impossible" in which she played opposite Tom Cruise.

NAVEEN ANDREWS is Kip, a brilliant, loyal, reserved Sikh lieutenant in the British Army charged with defusing and removing unexploded bombs left behind by the retreating German Army. Kip's sense of himself as an outsider prevents him from opening up to the simple, undemanding love of Hana.

26-year-old Naveen Andrews was born and raised in London, the son of parents who emigrated to England from southern India near Madras. Awarded a competitive study grant, Andrews attended the Guildhall of Music and Drama and won his first professional engagement in 1991 in the film "London Kills Me," written and directed by Hanif Kureishi.

Andrews has appeared in two other works written by Hanif Kureishi, the stage production of "My Beautiful Launderette," based on Kureishi's screenplay, and the film "The Buddha of Suburbia," directed by Roger Michell for which Andrews was named Best Actor at the 1994 San Remo Film Festival for his performance.

Among his other credits are "Wild West," in which he played the leader of a Southall country & western band opposite Sarita Chowdry, and two television films, "The Frontier," aired in Britain on Channel 4, and the recently competed BBC special, "The Peacock Spring," directed by Christopher Morahan. Andrews' next film appearance will be in "Kama Sutra," directed in India by Mira Nair.

COLIN FIRTH is Geoffrey Clifton, a bright, charming Briton with a love of the desert and of flying. Recruited by the British Government to obtain aerial maps of the Sahara, he is shattered by the discovery that his wife is having an affair with one of his colleagues.

A star of British television, theater and film, Colin Firth has received heroic acclaim in England for his performance as Mr. Darcy in the recent BBC-TV adaptation of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," including a BAFTA nomination as Best Actor.

Firth was born in Hampshire the son of school teachers and was raised in England, Africa and the United States. At 18 he joined the National Youth Theater and began his career starring in a production of "Hamlet" at the Drama Center which led to his West End debut in the play "Another Country" in which he succeeded Daniel Day-Lewis.

Firth's theater credits include "1919" in which he played opposite Paul Scofield; George Bernard Shaw's "The Doctor's Dilemma" at the Churchill Theater; "The Lonely Road" with Anthony Hopkins at the Old Vic; and the 1987 revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms" in Greenwich; Harold Pinter's "The Caretaker," with Donald Pleasance, and "Chataky" at the Almeida, directed by Jonathan Kent. For his performance in the film "A Month in the County" opposite Natasha Richardson and Kenneth Branagh, Firth was nominated for an Evening Standard Award.

On television he has appeared in "Camille," co-starring with Greta Scacchi and Ben Kingsley; "Dutch Girls;" "Lost Empires" (a seven-part Masterpiece Theater presentation), the award winning "Tumbledown," directed for the BBC by Richard Eyre; D. H. Lawrence's "The Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd;" Terrence Rattigan's "The Deep Blue Sea," directed by Karel Reisz; Ruth Rendell's "Master of the Moor;" and most recently and an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo," with Albert Finney and Brian Deheny, directed by Alastair Reid.

Firth played the lead in Milos Forman's film "Valmont," and as well as important roles in "Apartment Zero," "The Advocate" and "Circle of Friends." He appears in David Evans's "Fever Pitch," which was written by Nick Hornby and will be released in 1997, and is currently co-starring with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Robards in Jocelyn Moorhouse's film "A Thousand Acres."

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