His Will Shakespeare has all of his brother Ralph's intensity, but is tempered and leavened with a kind of febrile, edgy intelligence and no small amount of comic bite.
"Oh yes," he says, then thinks for a moment before adding, "although I see him as completely sane".
After that Fiennes is heading for the first time to Hollywood for a Paul Schrader movie and another bad guy: "I'm very excited about it.
He was also eager to please and very nice, lacking that patina of self-assurance - that conviction that I'm-the-star-of-the-production-I-like-to-call-my-life - most actors have.
I positioned my tape recorder near him and asked him if it would put him off.
" The playwright, played by an emerging young British actor, rolls his eyes skywards.
"Ye- es," he snaps, simmering with and frustration.And what if this experience feeds into the play he's writing, to make it the tragedy of doomed love we all know?It has the potential to be disastrous, heinous even."Working backstage as a teenager made me realise there's not much glamour in this profession - just lots of hard work.That's a good thing to learn early on." Next in the ascendant career of Joseph Fiennes is a part in the screen adaptation of James Hawes's novel Rancid Aluminium.In the forthcoming film Shakespeare in Love, there is a scene in which an emerging young playwright pursues the object of his desires by boat down the Thames.