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Jamie Dornan: I cried writing script about teenagers whose parents have died

Despite a privileged life, Jamie is too well-acquainted with tragedy

Jamie Dornan

JAMIE DORNAN has told how he has been in floods of tears writing a script which has brought back memories of his mum's tragic death.

The Hollywood star lost his mother Lorna to pancreatic cancer when he was just 16 back in 1998 and went to counselling to deal with his grief.

But the Fifty Shades and The Fall actor has admitted he has been crying recently as he writes a script about teenagers whose parents have died.

The 38-year-old, from Holywood in Co Down, said: "I've had such a tearful week honestly about my mum. I am writing a script at the moment with a friend of mine and our two main protagonists are teenagers who lost their parents and so much of it, I haven't been accepting of the fact it happened to me.


Jamie Dornan's late mum Lorna and his sister Jessica

Jamie Dornan's late mum Lorna and his sister Jessica

Jamie Dornan's late mum Lorna and his sister Jessica

"I am writing these kids talking to each other, trying to help each other, what grief is like, and I've been blanking it as some kind of defence mechanism and then feeling so bereft at the end of the day.

"My writing partner will see it and will say, 'You've got to stop,' and then we will sort of cry for an hour. The maddest experience but quite cathartic and good.

"It's a very odd thing and not a very nice thing but there are many aspects of my mum I just don't remember and I use my sisters a lot and my dad to try and build on the memories I have of her."

The death of his mum had an obviously devastating effect on the then teenager and he sought professional help to deal with it.


Jim Dornan with actor son Jamie

Jim Dornan with actor son Jamie

Jim Dornan with actor son Jamie

While at school he was further traumatised a year after his mum died when four of his friends died in a car crash in Donegal.

Chris Hannah from Downpatrick, Chris Sloan from Holywood, Nick Kirkwood and David Armstrong were travelling to a holiday home in Portnoo when their Vauxhall Nova careered into a ditch, after colliding with a Volkswagen Passat.

Speaking on the How To Fail podcast with Elizabeth Day, he recalled: "My mother died after my GCSEs, then four of my friends were killed the following summer so I wasn't in a great place. I had done ok in my GCSEs but my mum was dying the whole way through and I wasn't doing any work anyway.


Jamie with wife Amelia Warner

Jamie with wife Amelia Warner

Jamie with wife Amelia Warner

"I had counselling. I didn't have it until the accident which was 13 months after my mum died. It had a huge impact on the entire country but particularly my friendship group. It was so bleak clearly and affects you every single day."

Despite becoming a film star, the actor prides himself on having the same group of pals that he made during his school days at Methodist College in Belfast.

The actor dated Pirates of the Caribbean actress Kiera Knightley at the start of his career and she told him to keep his childhood friends close.

He said: "Keira (left) was good at that and still close with her best friends from school. She had a nightmare time and we were kids when we met. She was literally a teen and I was 21 when we met. She got an awful time of it, paps were horrendous every single day, living outside her apartment or mine and it was kinda gross.

"I didn't have that issue as I've always had the same group of mates from school and I've always had them and I still have them now. Mostly boys and a few girls from school and they are everything to me. I'm very lucky and fortunate in that way."

Although he made lifelong friends at Methody, Jamie found the school too restrictive and didn't thrive there because it was so focused on pushing pupils into careers like medicine and law.

The father-of-three admitted: "I don't look back and think that school was a failure because I felt I was there to gain friends and play sport and come out of the other side with having this structure of friends. I wanted to be friends with everyone, not even to be popular but because I had two sisters, I was always longing for brothers.

"I wasn't in school to get an education and I tell my kids very differently now but I didn't see school like that and as a result I did no work.

"I didn't have any pride at all and it's not a message I will pass onto my kids. I didn't do very well in my exams. I struggled with structure at our school and I might have done better in a different school where whatever strengths I had were harnessed differently.

"I didn't feel I was stupid but I was made to feel I was stupid quite a lot at the school.

"At school you were either going to be a doctor or a lawyer or (go into) business and there was nothing else worth talking about. If you uttered anything about doing anything else you were laughed out of the room and not listened to."

The Co Down actor also reflected on growing up here in the Troubles. "The Troubles? It's funny how meek it makes it sound," he said. "I've never shied away from how middle class my upbringing was. But there's no one who grew up in that country at that time who wasn't affected no matter what your situation was.

"Even things like how normal going into town was on a Saturday. This was before mobile phones and you always met outside McDonald's and wandered around. The amount of time you would phone your friend's house because you had seen there was a bomb scare."

Jamie thanks his father, Professor Jim Dornan, a retired obstetrician, for teaching him about not judging people because of their religion.

He explained: "My dad worked at the Royal his whole life on the Falls Road and delivered over 6,000 babies in Northern Ireland. That's not 6,000 Catholic babies or 6,000 Protestant babies. I feel like I was brought up in a liberal household where religion was rarely mentioned."

Now living in the Cotswolds with his wife Amelia Warner and their three daughters - six-year-old Dulcie, Alva (3) and one-year-old Alberta - he reflected on his home country adding: "The Good Friday Agreement was a huge thing but there are still divisions there. It's a very complicated place.

"If you see imagery now of what was our normal news, it blows your mind."

Sunday Life