“Fifty Shades Darker”: all of Jamie Dornan’s inspirations
Now that “Fifty Shades Darker” is making Swiss moviegoers shiver with pleasure, the actor portraying Christian Grey reveals himself as a little boy fascinated with Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. “They were my two favourite actors. I imagined myself in the shoes of Bruce Willis in his ‘Die Hard’ films, and I dreamed of becoming ‘Terminator’,” he said. More surprising than these testosterone-heavy heroes, one of his sources of inspiration when he was young was an American comedian, Don Rickles (who began in the 1950s thanks to Frank Sinatra, and who’s still working today, at 90, and touring with his one man show across the USA). “I’m obsessed with Don Rickles,” admits Jamie. “I think he’s the funniest man in the world. One of the best birthdays of my life was when I’ve been surprised with tickets to his show, in Atlantic City.” Jamie is such a big fan that he’s kept a signed picture of Rickles. “Besides, I’d love to play in a comedy, to shake my image,” he confides in passing.
Outside of the industry, his father, Professor Jim Dornan, a well-known gynaecologist and obstetrician in Northern Ireland, is his role model. “He means so much to me! Dad has always been able to find the right words when something bad happened.” Hard times, bad luck first stroke Jamie when he was no older than 14. Its name: pancreatic cancer. The victim: Lorna Dornan, his mother, who died 18 months later. Jamie had just turned 16. “It was the turning point in my life, the moment I stopped being a child and became a man, almost overnight,” he tells. Weirdly enough, he adds, “the only thing that helped me was knowing that her cancer was inoperable. I lived during these 18 months knowing that her death was inevitable. We had to make the most of every moment with her. To this day, I still think this kind of lucidity, as hard as it can be, is better than hanging onto an illusionary hope.”
If you point out the intensity of his gaze when he talks about these events, the model-turned-actor quickly goes from sadness to humour. “A doctor once told me that my level of adrenaline was abnormally high, that must be why!” Before going back to his memories: “A year after mum’s death, four of my best friends from school died in a car crash… I’ve been through the worst times of my young life between 16 and 17. Fortunately, my dad pushed me to see a professional. Without a therapy, I don’t know how I could have coped with the events and mourn without doing some bad sh*t!” He adds: “At the time, I told myself to comfort me throughout these terrible events that it was a way of growing up faster. Now, I do realise how terrible it was for a teenager. Knowing that you can be there a second, and gone the next one is scaring me even more now that I am a dad…”
Indeed, since he met singer Amelia Warner, in 2011, it’s been mad love, with a wedding – on April 27, 2013 – and fatherhood. “The bases of my daily life haven’t changed because of my success. My wife is the same, we live in the same house… We chose not to change anything in our daily life, to keep a quiet life. With two children under 3, our days look nothing like a glamorous life in Hollywood! In fact, we both panic if we’re not asleep before 10pm, because we have to be up early in the morning for our daughters.”
Let’s go back to his younger years… And to this friendship that’s changed everything. “After mum’s death, dad suggested that I joined the Methodist College Belfast – in order to prevent me from staying home every night.” That’s where Jamie met a boy his age, David Alexander, whose father had just died as well. “We had so much in common! We could talk all night long… Until we decided to put our emotions into music.” They then founded a musical duo, Sons of Jim – their fathers both being called that name. “Music allowed me to travel, allowed me to sing in different cities, and then to settle in London. That’s when I decided to try to be an actor… even if, at 20, nobody wanted me.” Luckily, modelling was there for him. Jamie Dornan earned a living by posing in underwear for Calvin Klein and Dior. “I used to hide from my agent that I played rugby with my mates, because my contract didn’t allow me to play physical sports.”
Discovered by Sofia Coppola, he briefly appeared as Count Fersen in 2006, opposite “Marie-Antoinette” (a.k.a. Kirsten Dunst). His career as an actor was launched. Now, surrounded by an erotic and scandalous aura, he is “Fifty Shades Darker’s” Christian Grey. Next, he’ll be Will Scarlett, Otto Bathurst’s “Robin Hood’s” half-brother. Success, to hot Jamie Dornan’s eyes? Yes, that’s nice. “But the best thing in my life as a man is to be a dad!”
What’s his “thing”? Seeing Dulcie, our eldest, asking after her sister as soon as she wakes up. ‘Where is baby?’ she asks, at two and a half. It’s so cute!
His unsuspected talent? Playing rugby. At 14, I’d even given up school to play and become a professional player. But a couple of broken bones got the better of my calling.
On his shame list? Being a model. That’s a thing I’ve never enjoyed. That being said, when you’re 20 and you can either do this or be a waiter in a bar… And it clearly paid better!
His last giggle? With my wife, a night when our daughters were asleep, and we decided to have a sweet night together. We ended up falling asleep at 8.30pm!
His buzz? I invite your readers to enquire about TinyLife, which I support. Thanks to my father who’s a doctor, I found out early about the work this foundation has been doing for almost 30 years to help parents of premature babies around the world.
His feminine news? Kim Basinger plays Mrs. Robinson, who taught Christian Grey everything about S&M. I must admit I was impressed and fascinated by her. I would have loved to talk about “Nine ½ Weeks” with her, but I just couldn’t. 30 years after it was released, it’s still a classic!