Entertainment Celebrity Eight things you didn’t know about Jamie Dornan
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Eight things you didn’t know about Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan
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Jamie who? It’s a reasonable question. The 32-year-old Belfast-born model-turned-actor Jamie Dornan was relatively unknown in 2013 when he was cast in Fifty Shades of Grey as bondage-loving billionaire Christian Grey.

But once the adaptation of EL James’ erotic bestseller hits cinemas this weekend, Dornan will be much harder to ignore.

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To whip you into shape, here are eight intriguing moments in a short yet smouldering career that’s taken Dornan from Blue Steel to Grey/Steele.

Mr Dornan will see you now.

1. Hollywood is in his genes

Greer Garson (right) in the 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most famous actresses in cinema history.
Greer Garson (right), pictured in the 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is one of the most famous actresses in cinema history.

Dornan’s first cousin twice removed – that is, his grandmother’s cousin – is Golden Age Hollywood actress Greer Garson, whose grandfather, David Greer, was Irish. In 1996, an infant Dornan wrote his illustrious relative a letter boasting about his primary school play-acting … which she never read, as she’d died the week before the letter was sent.

2. Calvin loves Jamie

Jamie-Dornan-Calvin-Klein
Dornan in a Calvin Klein campaign.

In 2002, Dornan competed in the British reality TV show Model Behaviour. While he didn’t win, he was photographed by Bruce Weber, who’s known for his risqué black-and-white images for Calvin Klein. Nicknamed ‘The Golden Torso’, Dornan became the face of Calvin Klein in 2004. Fans still linger over pictures of him in those iconic white boxer briefs.

3. He was once Mr Keira Knightley

Kiera Knightley and Jamie Dornan in 2004. Photo: Getty
Keira Knightley and Dornan in 2004. Photo: Getty

He met the Imitation Game star in 2003, when they both modelled for upscale British jewellers Asprey. They dated until 2005, but recently in Los Angeles, they studiously avoided one another at a BAFTA party. Having expressed zero interest in playing Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades, Knightley reacted to her ex’s casting with mordant laughter: “Well, he’s a very good-looking boy. I’m sure the girls will love him.”

4. In his screen debut, he seduced a queen

Dornan took his trademark intense, troubled gaze to Versailles in his first film role – as the queen’s Swedish lover Axel von Fersen in Sofia Coppola’s controversial Marie Antoinette. This small but combustible appearance propelled him to ninth spot in Cosmopolitan magazine’s 2006 list of 30 Hottest Men.

5. Even he thinks his band was “terrible”

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With schoolfriend David Alexander, Dornan formed a folk duo named Sons of Jim, after both their fathers. They split in 2008 – possibly because they were rubbish. In a 2012 interview, Dornan laughed about his “whiney harmonica”, saying: “I would have enjoyed the band more if we’d been good.” Not that it stopped them recording, touring or performing.

6. Once Upon A Time, he was a sex slave

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In 2011, Dornan joined TV’s fantasy romp Once Upon A Time, where he played the dual role of town sheriff Graham and Snow White’s Huntsman. Sadly, his character was killed off when the wicked Queen – who’d been keeping him as her erotic plaything – squeezed his captive heart to dust, just as he was finally pashing Snow White.

7. He’s best known as another TV ladykiller

Dornan was terrific as serial killer Paul Spektor, opposite Gillian Anderson, in the BBC thriller The Fall.
Dornan was terrific as serial killer Paul Spector, opposite Gillian Anderson, in the BBC thriller The Fall.

Dornan is perhaps best known as Paul Spector, the Belfast serial killer being hunted by police investigator Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) in BBC’s The Fall. His performance, modelled on real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, was critically acclaimed, despite disquiet that the series revels in violence against women.

8. And he brooded for Britain as a free-spirited drifter

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In the 2009 British independent drama Shadows in the Sun, Dornan co-starred with stage and screen legend Jean Simmons in her final role. She’s an ailing dowager whose son (James Wilby) is uneasy about her friendship with the mysterious, much younger Joe (Dornan). Its gothic flourishes are largely provided by Dornan’s Heathcliffian glower.

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