Belfast Telegraph

Jamie Dornan: Mum's death was horrendous and you are never over it

In a televised interview tonight with Eamonn Mallie, Hollywood star Jamie Dornan speaks of the impact his mother's death had on him when he was just a teenager, how he nearly didn't get his breakthrough acting role and why he quit modelling. Ivan Little reports

Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan
Amelia Warner (L) and Jamie Dornan
Jamie’s late mother Lorna with his sister Jessica
Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector and Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson in the TV thriller The Fall
Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson
Jim and Jamie Dornan
Northern Ireland actor Jamie Dornan with journalist Eamonn Mallie

Holywood's Hollywood star Jamie Dornan has spoken of his devastation at the tragic death of his 'beautiful' mother 20 years ago and about how he tells his wife that he loves her 10 times a day.

The 35-year-old sex symbol, who plays Christian Grey in the steamy Fifty Shades movies, has also talked frankly about how he overcame a drink problem in his student days.

The former model and musician also says in a UTV interview which airs tonight that:

  • He never thinks about becoming the next James Bond;
  • He was almost cast in the role of a policeman in the Belfast thriller The Fall instead of serial killer Paul Spector;
  • He doesn't like fame;
  • He doesn't know how he would respond if Donald Trump invited him to play golf with him.

Jamie opens up in a candid hour-long interview with broadcaster Eamonn Mallie who once brought a youthful Dornan to Stormont to do work experience.

In the wide-ranging face-to-face encounter Jamie also speaks of his admiration for his father Jim who is in remission from cancer.

Jamie, who has two young daughters called Dulcie and Phoebe, talks emotionally and at length about his mother Lorna who died from pancreatic cancer when he was just 16 and a pupil at Methodist College, Belfast.

He says even after two decades his 50-year-old mum's passing can still just "smack me round the face".

Jamie adds: "I think having two kids has an impact on that. So I think the impact it had on me is forever evolving and now watching my wife be a mother and both my sisters being mothers, and seeing the role a mother plays in young lives and then realising that, you know, I didn't have that for a section of my youth.

"It was a horrendous time in my life and you are never over it." Jamie says he tries to keep the memories of his mother alive in his children by having pictures of her around the house and sharing stories about her.

The actor says his mother had wanted to become an artist, but her parents enrolled her in nursing college.

He thinks that he inherited part of Lorna's creativity, but confesses that he'd passed off some of her art as his own at school.

Jamie says his "larger than life" father Jim, a prominent gynaecologist/obstetrician, is zestful, full of energy and irrepressible and had instilled him with positivity.

"Dad's had cancer, he's in remission from that," he says. "Basically every version of dad ends with positivity, that's all I can say, I mean he will turn every negative into a positive instantly."

Jamie recalls how his father talked to him when he dropped out of university where he "mucked about and sort of drank too much", but he doesn't regret his decision to quit.

He says he never set out to be famous, adding: "I don't want to be famous. I don't like the idea of fame, I didn't always want to be an actor. I did want to when I dropped out of uni (where he was studying for a marketing degree)."

Jamie initially established himself as a model - with Calvin Klein for a time - which earned him a ribbing from his fellow rugby players at Methody, but he says he stopped because he didn't respect modelling and the "ridiculous" people he met.

Jamie is married to English actress Amelia Warner whom he calls Millie.

"I knew the night I met her that I was going to marry her so I thought I just have to get a bit serious here and being serious to me wasn't to continue modelling," he says.

Meeting Millie at a Los Angeles party in February 2010 was his "epiphany moment" says Jamie, who admits that he knew who she was and had always fancied her and "knew" that they'd get along.

He says he tells her 10 times a day that her loves her and she tells him seven or eight times.

Jamie tells his interviewer how TV drama The Fall changed his life, adding: "They were the best scripts I had ever read... I think I was sent the first three episodes and it was to play one of the police officers who dies at the end of the second episode."

The 35-year-old says even that role would have been good for him because he had never had "a sniff" at any auditions at the BBC before. After going to Los Angeles to look for work, Jamie was summoned back to the UK to audition for the part of Spector and it was the creator of The Fall, Allan Cubitt, who fought for him to get the controversial role.

He says he never had any reservations about playing the "phenomenal" part adding: "Roles like that maybe only come around once in a career."

Jamie says the Fifty Shades movies and everything positive in his career has come about because of The Fall.

The actor never read the books by EL James but knew that millions of people had.

He says: "I had an idea that it was going to make a splash, but I guess the biggest thing in my head at that moment was that Millie was 36 weeks' pregnant when I got that part, so actually all I was really thinking about was the health and welfare of my wife and the baby inside her."

He says Millie has never seen any of the Fifty Shades films, adding: "I just don't know why you'd want to watch your husband simulate sex with someone else for, you know, 40 minutes out of an hour-and-a-half movie."

But he says Millie is very close to his co-star Dakota Johnson who plays Anastasia Steele.

He says he isn't on social media and questions US President Donald Trump's use of it.

However, he adds: "I have got lots of opinions of Donald Trump that we probably shouldn't get into. It's not the right platform."

Asked if would accept an invitation to play golf with the president as Rory McIlroy had done, Jamie replies: "I honestly don't know... I don't think there's one policy that he has that I'm in any form of agreement with, but it would certainly be interesting."

Jamie says he never had any qualms about taking part in the raunchy Fifty Shades movies with their portrayal of S&M and "that type of sex".

He adds: "It's not for me personally but lots of people enjoy it... We haven't made it up, we are not forcing it down people's throat, it exists, it's a real thing and lots of people love it and we are just, you know, portraying that and so I think it's harmless to be honest."

Jamie says he and his family live in the middle of nowhere in the English countryside and he doesn't "peacock about" at celebrity parties.

He says he isn't concerned about winning an Oscar or a Bafta and thinks he's a "serviceable actor who is employed a lot at the moment".

Jamie, who says he feels he is Irish and adds that he has sleepless nights over Brexit, has been linked to the role of James Bond but insists that he doesn't think about it, adding: "Setting goals as an actor is a really bad idea. I think because it is so unpredictable you don't have a clue what's going to happen."

Jamie concludes the interview by saying he believes he is a good husband and father and beyond that he doesn't care.

As for his Northern Irish upbringing, he says: "One of the best gifts that being from here and going to Methody had for me was that it gave me the friends that I am going to have the rest of my life."

Eamonn Mallie: Face to Face with Jamie Dornan. UTV tonight 10.45pm

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