Has Jamie Dornan’s penance for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ finally paid off? | Culture

Jamie Dornan is a very ordinary guy. Far from collecting high-end cars or wasting his fortune on luxury brands, his most prized possessions are a horse, five chickens, three goats, a dog and a cat. He could afford a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, but the actor and former model lives on a quiet farm in the English countryside with his three daughters and wife, actress-turned-songwriter Amelia Warner. After a few years of living through the hangover of the blockbuster Fifty shades of Greyhe now returns as the protagonist of Belfast, a new historical film directed by Kenneth Branagh. Some insiders are betting on a Free kick for the Oscarsand maybe he can shake off the series of tragic events that marked his life and that began long before he became Christian Grey.

Jamie was a happy kid. He was born in Holywood in Northern Ireland – not to be confused with Hollywood – and raised in a Methodist family, he attended church regularly until he was six years old. His grandparents on both sides were preachers. But young Jamie was much more interested in sports, especially rugby, than in the cultivation of his faith. He also showed an early interest in acting. At Belfast Methodist College he was an active member of the drama club. Even if he was not aware of it himself, everyone knew he was a star. This included her father, obstetrician and gynecologist Jim Dornan, who died last March of Covid-19 at the age of 73.

While her childhood was ordinary, everything changed in 1998. Shortly after her 16th birthday, her mother, Lorna, died suddenly of pancreatic cancer. “It’s something that affects you in a thousand different ways every day. I doubt that I will ever be able to accept this, unless I go see a therapist who can explain to me how. Maybe it made me more determined…I’m still very angry when I think about it. At my age, I am very frustrated that my mother is not there, because I have daughters that she has not been able to meet. It makes me very sad,” he said. EL PAÍS in 2016.

Jamie Dornan and Kate Moss at a Calvin Klein event in New York in 2016.Patrick McMullan (Patrick McMullan via Getty Image)

Then in 1999, Dornan lost four of his best friends from high school in a car accident. In 2019, on journalist Jay Rayner’s Out To Lunch podcast, he explained how the back-to-back tragedies had thrown him into depression: [those] things today, every day. I had this summer where I was going out a lot, I was drinking, I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I dropped out of college and was doing a degree in marketing and [had] no interest in any aspect of marketing, and I was like, ‘Well shit, I’m going to leave. Her two older sisters, Liesa (who works for Disney in London) and Jessica (a fashion designer based in Falmouth), staged an intervention.

modest man

Dornan Recount The Guardian in 2014 that he never considered himself particularly attractive. “I didn’t do particularly well with girls at school. I have always looked very young. And my sister’s friends always said, ‘You’re so cute.’ Damn I hated that. If you’re a skinny, baby-faced teenager, the last thing you want to hear is that you’re cute. His sisters begged him to disagree and persuaded him to enter the reality show Model behaviorwho offered a one-year contract with the Select modeling agency and an appearance on the cover of QG magazine. Liesa and Jessica thought a change of scenery might be good for him, but he didn’t win.

Soon after, however, he showed up at the agency’s offices in London on his own and was signed. “At 21 I was doing really big campaigns – it was huge – and I was making a lot of money, but because I never really saw modeling as a career, I guess I didn’t. let too much get to me,” he said. QG. Every time he went on a date or met a girl in a pub, he said he was a “landscape gardener or worked for Google”. Anything but admit that he was a model. He eventually started dating actress Keira Knightley, and they dated for two years.

Like The New York Times reflected in a 2006 article titled The Golden Torso, Dornan dazzled for brands like Dior, Calvin Klein, Armani and Abercrombie & Fitch because he looked like a typical young man who could go unnoticed in a crowd. “He’s like the male Kate Moss,” Jim Moore, then creative director of QG, says in this article. “Its proportions are a little off. He has a light build. It is rather small for male models. But his torso is long, so he looks taller, and he brings a laid-back quality to modeling. He knows why he’s there, but unlike a lot of people, he’s not trying to be a male role model. He’s not a model.”

And that was the key to his success. “I wonder why all this happened to me,” he told the American newspaper. “I don’t consider myself particularly handsome. The reason everything has worked out so well for me is that I don’t take everything too seriously,” he added. “It’s a great deal so far, a great way to make money and have fun. I attribute much of what has happened so far to luck and the right place at the right time.

Jamie Dornan (middle) attends the casting for the Calvin Klein contest
Jamie Dornan (middle) attends the casting for the Calvin Klein ‘9 Countries, 9 Men, 1 Winner’ competition in 2009.Dave M. Benett (Getty Images)

He never walked the runway, but instead posed with a wistful gaze for some of the industry’s most celebrated photographers. “I’m sure there are people who dream about it, but not me. I did well and I respect that, but I always did it with a certain reluctance. Under no circumstances would I return to modeling,” he told EL PAÍS in another interview in 2019. This stage in his life would allow him to devote himself to what he had always dreamed of: acting.

The killer is looking for an interpreter

In the above Guardian article, journalist and writer Nigel Farndale portrays Dornan as popular, feminist and hyperactive by nature. We know that he usually drinks beer, opens a bottle of wine after putting his daughters to bed, and does not train at the gym because he does not gain a gram when he gorges on junk food.

His first real acting opportunity came in the form of a Sofia Coppola cameo. Marie Antoinette in 2006. But if there’s one character Dornan holds in high esteem, it’s the psychopathic family man Paul Spector in the British series The fall, for which he received a BAFTA nomination. “This show gave me everything,” he said. recognized in The Guardian in 2015. “I know that every opportunity given to me from now on is due to The fall.”

The beginnings weren’t easy as he had to prove he wasn’t just a pretty face. “In a way it benefits you, but in general it’s a big stigma. I’ve always found it infuriating that just because you’ve been a model for a few years doesn’t mean you can’t be an actor. valid. Especially in the UK. In the US, I would say they don’t care,” he told EL PAÍS.

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson at the 'Fifty Shades Freed' premiere in Paris in 2018.
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson at the ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ premiere in Paris in 2018.PATRICK KOVARIK (AFP via Getty Images)

When did the first rumors of a possible film adaptation of Fifty shades of Grey began to surface, the whole world began to speculate on who would play the protagonist. The first novel was universally criticized for being poorly written, but it was still a literary phenomenon. The toxic relationship between secretive businessman Christian Gray and shy student Anastasia Steele has revitalized erotic literature, a dormant genre for decades. Since its release in 2011, the first installment alone has sold over 165 million copies worldwide.

On September 2, 2013, news broke that Charlie Hunnam had been cast to bring Christian Grey to life. But on October 12 of the same year, Hunnam gave up. A few days later, Dornan agreed to be his replacement. The first trailer for Fifty shades of Grey racked up over 36 million views in its first week on YouTube in 2014. The teaser for fifty shades darkera sequel, reached 144 million in 24 hours in 2016. Dornan was well aware of the monster he was facing, and that from minute one the press would attack him without mercy.

“You know what you’re getting into and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about whether to take the fifty shades role. Most people hated books. And I’m not saying I don’t understand why these books were so powerful for millions of people, but you’re not going to have books that were horribly reviewed turned into films that will be critically acclaimed. he said QGadding that he had no regrets: “It hasn’t hurt my career to be part of a film franchise that has made over a billion dollars. Every working actor would say the same thing. It’s provided – a lot. There’s no shame in saying that it has transformed my life and that of my family financially.

He may play it down now, but in 2015 he was stung by some of the reviews that came out when the first movie was released. “One of them was ‘Jamie Dornan has the oatmeal charisma,’ which – some people like oatmeal, so I thought that was a bit harsh. I remember that it stuck with me,” he said Variety. Others said he had “the charisma of a hologram”. In 2016, with fifty shades darker and fifty shades lighter not yet released, he tacitly agreed with his detractors, declaring to EL PAÍS: “I don’t think I was right to Fifty shades of Grey. I’m sure it’s my worst performance to date. I don’t mind admitting it.

Although he said QG, “I always pay penance for this choice”, he continues to receive scripts. Like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (the stars of dusk saga), or Daniel Radcliffe (who will forever be haunted by Harry Potter), Dornan has built a solid career outside of Hollywood blockbusters. Now his performance in Belfast is destined for Oscar glory, according to Initiated. Soon, the guy who hated being a model may return to his farm with a golden statuette.

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