Never mind the frightening sights contained in the Silence of the Lambs prequel Red Dragon (opening tomorrow) — there's one scene some viewers might not want to erase from their minds so quickly: Ralph Fiennes running around the house wearing nothing but a freaky full-body tattoo. It's a pleasant surprise to find that the soft-spoken, Oscar-nominated English Patient star, who plays serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, thinks naked is natural.

"Running around with no clothes on is not particularly demanding," he tells TV Guide Online, sounding nothing like your run-of-the-mill, proper Brit. "You just have to not be shy. It's not a big deal either way. What was more important to me was the urgency of Dolarhyde at the time."

Indeed, after scolding us once more for being so shallow — "I don't see what's peculiar about being naked!" — Fiennes delves beneath the surface to discuss what made his character a killer. Despite his own happy childhood, the thesp says he could understand Dolarhyde's emotional scars — which were inflicted by his verbally-abusive grandmother. "I can see in my mother's family that not to be loved or not to have demonstrative affection from a parent [might] not necessarily create Dolarhyde, but it would certainly create unhappiness and emotional instability," he notes.

Luckily, Fiennes's mother, Jini, spawned artists instead of monsters; most of the late writer's six children, including Ralph's younger brother Joseph (Shakespeare in Love), went on to pursue careers in creative arts. "Both our parents took us to see plays and exhibitions and encouraged us to read books," he says. "These things... were like food and drink to my mother. It was always pretty intense, and she got pretty cross if we didn't commit to something fully. If you were going to be an actor, be an actor and don't dance around the outside of it."