Ralph Fiennes took an acting part in his most recent directorial effort after caving to producers who said it would make the film more marketable.
The actor, 56, was at first sceptical of both directing and acting in The White Crow, which follows Russian ballet star Rudolf Nureyev’s defection to the West in 1961.
But after the “madness and the stress” of trying to fund the film, he was convinced by an “assertive” Russian producer to make an appearance as ballet teacher Alexander Pushkin.
“I’ve directed two films where I’ve played the central role and it was very, very hard and I swore I would not do it again, and I came to this and was determined not to be in it,” he said.
“And then finally, in all the madness and the stress of trying to raise the money, it was only when I was confronted by quite an assertive, Russian executive producer who said, ‘Why are you not in the film Ralph? People would be interested in investing if you were in it’, then I caved.”
Fiennes – who has played M, the head of the secret intelligence service, in the James Bond film series since 2012 – said in taking the part he became the odd one out in a mainly Russian cast.
“But I’m the anomaly a bit because I wanted to have Russian actors in Russian roles speaking Russian. I attempt to speak Russian in this, of course I’m not Russian,” he says.
“But anyway, David Hare who has written it wrote it wonderfully.”
The White Crow releases in cinemas on Friday March 22.