Game Of Thrones star Dormer cops top role in £12m thrill-a-minute series Fortitude
He's had his arm chopped off in Game Of Thrones, brought punk to Belfast in Good Vibrations and swung his snooker cue as Alex Higgins.
And while he may be a familiar face in Northern Ireland, Lisburn actor Richard Dormer has now taken centre stage in a major new edge-of-your-seat thriller that debuted last night on both sides of the Atlantic.
Dormer plays grim-faced policeman Dan Anderssen in Fortitude, which co-stars a host of heavy hitters. They include Academy Award-nominated Stanley Tucci, former Doctor Who Christopher Ecclestone and Singing Detective Michael Gambon, alongside Danish actress Sofie Grabol, star of The Killing.
Set in fictional Fortitude - an isolated mining town in the Arctic Circle - Dormer plays enigmatic local sheriff Anderssen. Crime there is virtually non-existent, so when a research scientist's torn-up body turns up, RADA graduate Dormer's investigator is thrust to the forefront of events in the freezing Norwegian settlement.
At a cool £25m, the 12-part Sky Atlantic and US Pivot channel co-production is the most expensive British series ever.
While the coldness of Dormer's Anderssen may be the polar opposite of the warmth exuded by fun-loving Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations, both characters show that Dormer has the screen presence to carry off leading roles in major productions. With TV critics raising hopes that Fortitude could quickly acquire cult status or be the British answer to the 'Nordic Noir' that Grabol herself popularised, it looks like Dormer's day has arrived.
"I thought, bring it on. I'm ready for this. It's taken me a while but I'm ready for it. I think doing Good Vibrations made me aware of what I was capable of, to carry a big character like that, you know," he told Culture Northern Ireland.
Viewers praised Dormer's performance. Playwright Frank McCabe wrote on Twitter: "Fortitude has got Richard Dormer in it. Superb actor, good bloke, not seen nearly enough."
And viewer Jonny Kane added: "Good to see Richard Dormer in such a great role."
What the critics say
n Dormer and Tucci also make for compelling professional rivals. Dormer's Dan is weather-beaten, imposing and quick to anger, where Tucci is doing a soft-spoken Columbo riff as Morton, always three steps ahead of whomever he's interviewing, but also treating the investigation with the gravity it deserves.
n Fortitude is one of those dramas that plants tiny clues in quietly muttered and seemingly inconsequential lines, teases at intricate backstories then slams the shutters closed. There are twists, turns and the sense all will only become clear around episode 10.
- Filipa Jodelka, The Guardian