The villains in Harry Potter's universe personify evil.
Just ask Ralph Fiennes, who plays the most malevolent of them all, Lord Voldemort, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. The adaptation of the seventh book in J.K. Rowling's series about the boy wizard has made more than $244 million in the USA and $713.3 million worldwide since it opened Nov. 19.
"He's really sort of the devil," says Fiennes, 47. "He's completely emotionally detached. He has no empathy. You find that in psychopaths."
For Fiennes, an Oscar nominee for playing a Nazi officer in 1993's Schindler's List, knowing your character's driving force is key to unlocking his potential for malice. "It's about power with Voldemort," he says. "It's an aphrodisiac for him. Power makes him feel alive."
He fears the obliteration that comes with death most of all, says Daniel Radcliffe, who has played Harry since the franchise began in 2001. Fiennes entered the picture in 2005, when the vanquished Voldemort regains a body in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
"Jo Rowling has always said that the thing that separates Harry from Voldemort is that Harry is not afraid of death," Radcliffe says.
Fiennes goes into Voldemort mode at the mere mention of Potter. "Daniel's very nice, but Harry Potter's a pain," says Fiennes, scowling and hissing.
Director David Yates praises the actor's ability to nail Voldemort's mercurial menace. "Where he goes in his eyes is really haunting."
And no matter the lights, cameras and presence of dozens of crewmembers, Radcliffe was consistently unsettled by Fiennes. "When Ralph's doing his Voldemort stuff, he just really freaks me out."
Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy, says he also was unnerved.
"Ralph is mesmerizing," Felton says. "He never did two takes the same. ... I had to keep reminding myself: 'Stay in character. Don't just sit there and watch his performance.' "
Even when the cameras stop, the aura of Voldemort remains.
"He dominates scenes in the film, and it's like that off the set as well," Felton says. "He's quite a charming guy. And when he opens his mouth, people listen. Let's put it this way: No one talks over him."
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Fixed the links, mods.