Jamie Dornan: Something changes in me when I play Paul Spector in The Fall
Jamie Dornan has revealed how serial killer Paul Spector got under his skin when he was playing the disturbed character in the BBC's gritty Belfast-based TV show The Fall.
The 34-year-old Northern Irish actor also said he believes that his subsequent role as the lead in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise has helped boost the hit crime drama's audience figures.
Meanwhile, his co-star Gillian Anderson, who plays DSI Stella Gibson, has hit out at critics who continue to criticise the programme for being misogynistic, branding them "so wrong-headed".
At the end of the second series of The Fall - which has been characterised by a protracted cat-and-mouse chase between the two main actors - Spector was shot and was seen bleeding out in Gibson's arms, sparking speculation about whether he would be returning.
But, speaking on set in Belfast ahead of the third and final series of the award-winning drama, Dornan moved quickly to clear up any confusion surrounding the demise of his character.
"I'm here. I guess that's the giveaway," he said, adding that, this time around, viewers can expect "a lot of hospital action" as well as sustained "psychological manipulation" of Gibson by Spector.
The Holywood native has been playing Spector, who is both a vicious murderer and a gentle father, intermittently for four years during which Dornan admits the fictional crazed killer got to him.
"I feel after that amount of time that I have a pretty good grip on Spector's behaviour on the page and off the page," he said.
"I do think I've changed a little bit when I'm playing him.
"Something happens to my psyche when I grow the beard and get a haircut.
"It's disturbing. And so is the character - there is an element of it that could be the guy next door, which I think is more frightening."
He added: "You don't have to look like some super-creep to murder people."
Since The Fall began in 2013, the Co Down man who started out as a Calvin Klein model has gone on to become a household name worldwide thanks to box office smash Fifty Shades, in which he plays the masochistic millionaire Christian Grey.
Dornan said the success of the film franchise probably helped attract viewers to the TV drama, which the BBC has promised to bring to a definitive close at the end of this five-parter.
"There's probably a lot more people who watch The Fall now because of Fifty Shades," he said.
"And if Fifty Shades has opened more eyes to The Fall, then that's only a good thing."
Anderson's DSI Gibson is "obsessed and fascinated by Spector's mind" while wanting to understand "what, psychologically, leads to this behaviour" according to Allan Cubitt, the show's creator, writer and director.
And that's why Anderson is particularly irritated that The Fall continues to be slated for using 'voyeuristic' thrills and misogyny in its depiction of female murder scenes.
"People can think what they like, I know what this is," said the 48-year-old former star of The X-Files.
"It's so wrong-headed. Were people to maybe sit back and look at Allan's intention, which is the opposite of what they are claiming, they would see something very different."
Anderson also pointed out that The Fall has shown a cross section of women from the young to the elderly, whose psychology and treatment have been thoroughly explored.