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Holly • October 3rd, 2016

Jamie recently sat down with ICON EL PAÍS to discuss The Fall, Fifty Shades of Grey and his time spent as a teen with friends Eddie Redmayne and Andrew Garfield. Although the article was originally printed in Spanish, EJD has spent some time translating the article into proper English. Read below and enjoy!


It took one decade for the ex model from Belfast to be acknowledged as an actor. Now, Jamie Dornan fights to get rid of Grey’s shadow. Thanks to roles like the psychopath in “The Fall” or the heroic soldier from “The Siege of Jadotville” (the Netflix Original that will be released on Netflix October 7th,) it looks like he won’t need to wait another decade this time. He talked to us in an exclusive interview for ICON.

There are Twitter accounts dedicated to celebrating the shapes of his arms. Advertising images where this ex-model appeared cuddled up with Kate Moss, or smeared with oil along with Eva Mendes, form part of the popular imagery of the past decade. Media as prestigious as The New York Times nicknamed him ‘The Golden Torso’ and a trailer for the second installment of the Fifty Shades series – where he plays the most mysterious icon of our age: a millionaire fond of sadomasochistic sex – sent millions of fans into a frenzy counting down the days until the premiere (February 10, 2017). Jamie Dornan, however, is the one that seems to care the least. Northern Ireland’s 34 year old clearly wants to offer something more than a godlike physique. He could have spent his days signing a never ending stream of advertising contracts while continuing to be shown half naked but instead decided to pursue acting. After facing some criticism, Dornan landed the role in the UK television series ‘The Fall’, where he plays a psychopath from his native city of Belfast. The Fall has just released its third season, and it’s in that television series that Dornan proves his depth as an actor. His latest film, a stark contrast to his role as Christian Grey, also showcases Dornan’s talent. ‘The Siege of Jadotville,’ which debuts on Netflix October 7, is inspired by a true story. In 1961, during the war of Katanga, a secessionist province of Congo, an Irish battalion of 150 soldiers sent by the United Nations was attacked by some 3000 men of the local army assisted by French and Belgian mercenaries. There were five days of fierce fighting, but this battle was excluded from the official history of Ireland. “I had no idea about this battle. It was kept secret for years for several reasons, which I find embarrassing since it shows Irish heroics on a large scale” He explains in his County Down accent, after a photo shoot in which he had been amicable and sociable, spontaneous and somewhat foul-mouthed.


Why did you get into the film business?
I don’t have the proper attitude for working in an office. From a young age, I knew that I was not that kind of person. I lack the patience to sit in front of a computer. I had no idea what I would do, but I think that all those who work in film feel compelled at a young age. I started theatre at the age of 13; I wanted to be a different person and express myself accordingly than my friends on the rugby team. It was clear I wanted to be an actor. I felt comfortable in a world that allowed me to be the person people weren’t expecting me to be.

How did you end up modeling?

For a year I studied marketing, pretending to be an adult until I discovered that it was a waste of time and money. I did not want to conform to anything and the simple idea of doing it repulsed me. I didn’t have any other plans until my sister pushed me to modeling. If you can make money at the age of twenty by posing for some pictures while looking moody, you’d be foolish to say no. Models have a bad reputation. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of dumb models out there, but it seems like a crime to me to earn so much money for doing so little. It has its complications. It can feel like you’re trying to escape a straight jacket when you’re trying to reach for new horizons. I found that out very early. Some things benefit you, but in general there is a stigma; it’s always been frustrating that just because you’re a model people no longer think that you can act, especially in the UK. In America, they don’t give a shit.

But people discovered you could act. Why do you think that works best in this series than in other projects?

Peter O’Toole, who knew what he was taking about, once said that great roles make great actors. Look at Tom Cruise; he filmed Rain Man the same year as Cocktail. He was applauded for one while the other was nominated for a Razzie. “I think thats the ultimate test,” O’Toole said.

Why did you take on Fifty Shades of Grey and what has been the end result of doing so? Are you feeling the same pressure of the straight jacket, finding it hard to escape?

Yes and no. I don’t care what is perceived of me, beyond what my friends and my family think. I like challenges. The rest of my career may be defined by that character, but it just means I’ll have to fight a little harder to break free of that. Being part of a franchise with so many fans has presented me with huge opportunities regardless of the fear I sometimes have, with the perception we all have of it. It’s all about finding a balance. Since [Fifty Shades], I’ve completed three independent films.

You earned rave reviews for The Fall but not so much for Fifty Shades of Grey. How do you deal with that?

I can recall when I had an Instagram account, I was sent a montage of the worst criticism. I found it hilarious. One critic said he had the ‘charisma of oatmeal’ I won’t lose sleep for that.

So it did not affect you in the least?

No. People say derogatory things about books and about the kinds of fans who are active in it, and the truth is, it seems disrespectful to those people but personally, I don’t care. In fact, I dont think I was good in that movie. I’m pretty sure that’s my worst performance to date and I dont mind admitting it. Sometimes things are beyond your control but I’m not making excuses. Oatmeal was a bit harsh, but I agree. And I’m sure those seventeen critical readers also did.

You were once asked about the objectification of women and their bodies. You replied and said it also affects men, including yourself among those affected. It is something that you try to resist?

It’s part of the job. When you’re an actor, people see you as an object. Unfortunately, it happens more to women because people are obsessed with women’s bodies when for me it’s something completely natural. As an actor, you try your best to control the risks you take. If you do everything everyone demands, you will end up feeling used and abused. You need to keep and maintain some control.

Some aspects of Fifty Shades are taken literally and people see all kinds of subliminal messages about relationships between men and women. How did you face having to interpret that on screen?

I took the latter, because that was the intention of the person who wrote it. I’m in awe over all the controversy regarding the content of the books. The books aren’t hurting anyone and there was never intent to. I feel good. Those who aren’t fully educated in submission and sadomasochism do not understand that it’s consensual. There are people who play bridge and find it quite exciting. That almost scares me (laughs.) We tend to believe that we are less rigid and more open, more liberal and tolerant than the generation of our fathers, but I don’t think we are. We remain a conservative and Christian society.

And he knows what he’s talking about. His two grandfathers were Priests.

Yes, but religion was not an important part of education to me. My parents took me to church when I was six. They saw I showed no interest in it and they just let it run. To be honest, I don’t buy any of it. It seems impossible.

Where did you grow up?

On the outskirts of Belfast, in a house by the sea. I come from an upper middle class family. I had a very happy childhood, apart from losing my mother at age sixteen and four of my best friends a year later [in a traffic accident.] Until that time, I had been very happy.

How did the loss of your mother change you?

It’s something that affects you in a thousand different ways, every day. I dont think I can ever accept it unless I seek help otherwise. Maybe it turned me into someone more determined. I still get very angry when I think about it. It’s frustrating that at my age, I have two daughters who will never meet my mother, their grandmother. It makes me sad.

Before succeeding you spent a decade auditioning for roles without success.What encouraged you to keep auditioning?

I’m a stubborn and very competitive person. In sports for example, I don’t like to lose. I still have a group of friends that I met from that time. We got into some pretty bad things at one point but we’re now doing well. [Referring to friends and fellow actors Eddie Redmayne and Andrew Garfield, with whom he shared an apartment.] It took some time but we got ourselves back on the right track because we had more confidence in ourselves than we thought. When I read a bad review, I try my best to remember that I am part of the five percent of actors who have jobs and that makes me happy. In the end, happiness is all you can hope for. I find it discouraging that people only act to leave a legacy behind. Those who say “When it’s over, at least I will have played Hamlet at the Donmar Warehouse. (A renowned London theater) But what more will it matter? None of it matter. I am the son of two doctors, who do things that matter.

Thank you FiftyShadesDesire for their rough draft.

You can view Jamie’s interview in Spanish here and all of his portraits for the magazine session here.

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Death and Nightingales
Jamie as Liam Ward
Status: Pre-Production
Release Date: Unknown

Set in the countryside of Northern Ireland in 1885, Liam Ward (Jamie Dornan) helps a spontaneous Beth Winters (Ann Skelly), struggling with to control her destiny, escape a restricted life and troublesome relationship with her landowner stepfather (Matthew Rhys) on her 25th birthday.

Written by author Eugene McCabe, it is set to become a BBC mini-series, based on the 1992 novel by the same name.

News   Photos   IMDb

Jamie as an IRA Prisoner
Status: Postponed
Release Date: Unknown

Producer Jim Sheridan’s next great film will be based on the true story detailing the September 25th, 1983 Maze (Great) Prison Escape in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The prison was renowned for being one of the most escape proof, impenetrable prisons in the world.

The films production has been postponed.

News   Photos   IMDb

Fifty Shades Freed
Jamie as Christian Grey
Status: Released
Release Date: February 9, 2018

After Christian and Ana wed, everything seems to be finally falling into place – except it’s not. With the women of Christian’s past behind them, a new threat comes forward which threatens their happily ever after.

News   Photos   IMDb

My Dinner with Hervé
Jamie as journalist Danny Tate
Status: Pre-Production
Release Date: April 2018

Based on a true story recalling the unlikely friendship between Hervé Villechaize (Peter Dinklage) and a journalist named Danny Tate (Jamie Dornan) who interviews him just days before Hervé commits suicide in 1993.

News   Photos   IMDb

Jamie as Nick
Status: Post-production
Release Date: April 23, 2018 at Tribeca

Untogether pursues the affair between a former teen prodigy turned heroin addict (Jemima Kirke) now sober, who’s struggling to become a writer and Nick (Jamie Dornan) who plays a successful writer with his memoirs of war-time bravery, which in turn has showered him in wealth and women.

The film premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

News   Photos   IMDb

Robin Hood: Origins
Jamie as Will Scarlet
Status: Post-Production
Release Date: November 21, 2018

A gritty take on the classic Robin Hood story, Jamie plays Will Scarlet, a prominent figure in Robin’s band of Merry Men opposite Taron Egerton (Robin Hood), Jamie Foxx (Little John) and Ben Mendelsohn (Sheriff of Nottingham)

News   Photos   IMDb

A Private War
Jamie as Paul Conroy
Status: In Production
Release Date: TBA

Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan) accompanies American war correspondent, Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike) as she reports from conflicts overseas including Kosovo, Chechnya, East Timor and the Middle East.

News   Photos   IMDb

Jamie Dornan as an IRA Operative
Status: Pre-Production
Release Date: TBA

An IRA operative (Dornan) hunts down the person responsible for the accidental lethal shooting of his wife – an SAS captain (Claflin). Production is scheduled to start this summer in London and Dublin.

News   Photos   IMDb
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Everything Jamie Dornan
Status: Active
November 7th, 2014
North America