'The King's Man' gave Ralph Fiennes a second chance as an umbrella-wielding hero (exclusive)

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·3-min read

Watch: Ralph Fiennes talks sword fighting in The King's Man

Ralph Fiennes relished the chance to wield an umbrella and walking stick as a weapon in The King's Man, banishing the memory of his previous umbrella-toting work in The Avengers.

Fiennes played dashing British hero John Steed in the 1998 movie adaptation of the 1960s TV series, only for the film to flounder at the box office and become one of the most critically disliked films of all time.

In director Matthew Vaughn's historical actioner The King's Man, though, he wields a sword stick and umbrella as Orlando Oxford in the First World War-set origin tale for the secret organisation at the centre of the Kingsman franchise.

Read more: Matthew Vaughn has seven more Kingsman movies planned

"Well of course my first outing was a rather unhappy outcome. That Avengers film didn't really do very well," Fiennes told Yahoo. 

He added: "I went into it with the same kind of enthusiasm that I went into this. I guess I thought I was being given a second chance to have suits and a sword stick and whatever. 

Ralph Fiennes hopes his role in 'The King's Man' will be better received than his work in the critically panned 'The Avengers'. (Warner Bros/20th Century Studios)
Ralph Fiennes hopes his role in 'The King's Man' will be better received than his work in the critically panned 'The Avengers'. (Warner Bros/20th Century Studios)

"I'm a little boy inside and I like the idea of leaping around with a sword. I love watching old sword fights in films. 

"I love watching Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn. Those actors had extraordinary and real sword skills, as good as any stuntman if not better. 

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"I was supported by my wonderful stunt double in this, but we had to learn all the fights and all the sequences. 

"I was in the theatre at the time, but had to get up early — which is not what you do in the theatre normally — and go out and learn these fights. But I had a pleasure. I love a good sword fight and I love getting to know the choreography of a good sword fight."

Ralph Fiennes said his love for on-screen swordplay was inspired by the likes of Basil Rathbone in films including 'The Mark of Zorro'. (20th Century Fox/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Ralph Fiennes said his love for on-screen swordplay was inspired by the likes of Basil Rathbone in films including 'The Mark of Zorro'. (20th Century Fox/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

In The King's Man, Oxford opts to set up a secret organisation in an attempt to tackle the shadowy manipulations underpinning the First World War.

It's made even more personal for Oxford — an avowed pacifist — when his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) becomes determined to enlist in the military and fight in the trenches.

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"The Duke of Oxford has actually initiated his own intelligence agency in the belief that you can defeat the bad guys without having to go to outright war," said Fiennes. 

The 58-year-old added: "I guess he comes to the conclusion that you might have to take action unilaterally. 

Ralph Fiennes readies himself for action as Orlando Oxford in 'The King's Man'. (20th Century Studios)
Ralph Fiennes readies himself for action as Orlando Oxford in 'The King's Man'. (20th Century Studios)

"At the end of the film, there is the idea of a secret service agency that is not government run and operates on its own for the principles of peace and the preservation of prosperity and peace between nations. 

"I think the principles of pacifism, or the idea that war is to be avoided at all costs, is still present. But occasionally you need your knights of the round table to go out and tackle the devil."

Read more: Kingsman set prank war got a little out of hand

The cast of The King's Man also includes Rhys Ifans, Tom Hollander, Gemma Arterton, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance and Djimon Hounsou.

The King's Man is in UK cinemas from Boxing Day.

Watch: Trailer for The King's Man

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