I was quarantined in a hotel in Australia when my beloved dad died,” says Belfast actor Jamie Dornan.

Jamie Dornan was on the other side of the world with four more days of quarantine left at the hotel when he received the worst news imaginable.

His beloved father Jim died of Covid after being hospitalized for elective knee surgery.


Jamie Dornan says his upbringing in Belfast made him resilient to life’s challenges.1 credit
Jamie's father Jim died of Covid while the actor was filming in Australia.


Jamie’s father Jim died of Covid while the actor was filming in Australia.

Stuck in Australia last March, where he was forced to self-isolate before filming the BBC drama The Tourist, Jamie has been unable to return to his native Northern Ireland to cope with the heartbreaking loss.

Suddenly, 39-year-old Jamie, best known for his roles in Fifty Shades of Gray on the big screen and the TV thriller The Fall, found himself in a nightmare caused by a global pandemic.

So he understands the trauma that so many people have gone through in the last couple of years.

Jamie says: “It was a brutal time for many reasons and for many people. We’re all just trying to wait it out and come out the other side – and hope our heads don’t get hurt.”

The actor is receiving rave reviews for his role in the BBC1 thriller The Tourist, where he plays a mysterious amnesiac man who has no idea why he’s stranded in the Australian outback.

And he gets extra applause for his excellent performance as a father in trouble in Northern Ireland in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-winning film Belfast.

Jamie’s father, Jim, was a well-known obstetrician and gynecologist in the capital of Northern Ireland and was proud that his son would star in a film set there.

A photograph of Jim with Sir Kenneth at the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital stands proudly in the Dornan family home.

Jamie says: “There was a picture on our bookshelf of my dad and Ken opening a maternity ward at the hospital where my dad spent most of his career.

“I remember thinking that in our house it was a big problem, that he was around and did it, met with dad and all that.”

Unfortunately, Jim will never get to see the movie, which premieres next week.

The loss of a father made 2021 the “worst year”. . . and the hardest” in his life,” says Jamie.

Jim helped him deal with the painful loss of his mother Lorna to pancreatic cancer when Jamie was 16, telling his son, “Don’t let that be what defines you.”

Jamie says: “In the beginning of my life and now, I have experienced a lot of pain and loss.”

Jim supported Jamie’s decision to become an actor after the dashing star got tired of modeling for the likes of Calvin Klein and Armani.

The risky move has paid off because the former clothier – once nicknamed the Golden Torso – is on his way to becoming one of acting’s golden boys.

“I have a real understanding of what it means to go to work. Every step I take since becoming a father – my career – is for my family. That’s all I really care’

Jamie plays Pa in the new film, which has received seven Golden Globe nominations with co-star Dame Judi Dench.

The character is based on Branagh’s own father.

In 1969, Pa is working in England and wants his family to join him there as tensions between Belfast’s Protestant and Catholic communities escalate into deadly violence.

The plot was deeply personal for Jamie, who cannot be away from his daughters Dulcie, eight, Elva, five, and two-year-old Alberta.

He says: “I am the father of three girls and sometimes I have to say goodbye to them.

“It seems that I have a real understanding of what it is to leave, often for the benefit of the family – to work, to provide. Every step I take since becoming a father is my career for them. That’s all I really care about.

“I am so lucky to have three healthy little girls. I just miss them so much.”

Jamie met his 39-year-old wife, Amelia Warner, a musician and former actress, in 2010. Three years later they got married.

They live in the Gloucestershire countryside, preferring the local pub to glamorous red carpets.

Despite having to travel the world for work, Jamie does not allow himself to be separated from his children for more than two weeks.

The family traveled with him to Australia for the filming of The Tourist, in which Shalom Brune-Franklin plays his on-screen love interest, and they spent several months there during filming, with the children attending local schools.

The accolades Jamie received complete a wonderful twist after his performance in the maligned Fifty Shades trilogy was satirized.

Luckily, Jamie is thick-skinned enough to ignore the cruel barbs.

He says, “I’ve always been able to give shit and take shit, so I’m kind of armed for that.”

Jamie believes that solving problems through laughter is part of Belfast’s culture.

He says: “Belfast men and women are resilient. What I think is great about people from the north of Ireland is that we have a sense of humor that I think you need to get through some of the things we’ve all had to go through.”

Although he left the city at 20, Jamie still refers to himself as “the man from Belfast”.

“Singing is a horror you don’t even know about”

He says, “This is a house. We probably feel like it’s something special, “the man from Belfast” and I think we all know what that means.

“If you are from Belfast, no matter what era you grew up in, you have been through something.

“You have gone through certain hardships and been tested at different stages of your life.”

Trouble began in Northern Ireland around 1966, and the film takes place three years later when loyalists rampage through Catholic areas, burning homes and businesses.

This escalated into terrorist attacks by paramilitary groups, including the IRA and UMA, until the Good Friday Agreement finally brought peace in 1998.

Jamie says: “I was born in 1982 right in the middle of a 30 year conflict.

“When you grow up in such an environment, they teach you this – they teach you why everyone is fighting around you, what this hatred is based on, how it started. I personally don’t think it’s taught enough.”

Instead of dwelling on tangled politics, Sir Kenneth’s black-and-white film focuses on one family coping with a turbulent situation with love and humor. It is based on the experiences of a director growing up in the city and his father’s decision to bring his young family to England.

Jamie says with a smile, “All the characters are based in a lot on the people who are part of Ken’s life.

“I play a version of his father. So that brings with it a new set of stress.”

He also faced the “horror” of dancing and singing in the same scene when Pa performed “Eternal Love”, which topped the UK “Love Affair” chart in 1968.

His blue eyes sparkle, Jamie says: “This is such a horror that you cannot even imagine.

“I’ve been singing in a lot of things lately. I think the last four or five things I did, I sang. It’s becoming too familiar.”

“Men and women are inherently resilient
Belfast. We’ve got the humor you need to get through some of the things we’ve had to go through.”

Pandemic restrictions meant that Belfast could not be filmed in the city at its center.

The set was built in Berkshire and production will begin in 2020 as soon as restrictions allow.

The quarantine also meant that Jamie could not return to Northern Ireland for many months.

When asked to film Belfast, it provided an opportunity to reunite, albeit at a distance.

He says: “I was not at home, I could not get home to Belfast. I had a family there that I did not see and could not see.

“So I thought a lot about the house, and then I got a script called Belfast.

In his entire career, he has never faced an easier decision.

The star says: “I think that only once in my career will I star in a film named after the city that created me. So it was an easy yes. ”

  • Belfast (12A) will be eliminated on Friday 21 January.
Jamie doesn't like working away from wife Amelia Warner for more than two weeks


Jamie doesn’t like working away from wife Amelia Warner for more than two weeks1 credit
The new Belfast show is a very personal project for Jamie, who was born in Northern Ireland.


The new Belfast show is a very personal project for Jamie, who was born in Northern Ireland.1 credit
Jamie was absent from the set of The Tourist when he learned of his father's death.


Jamie was absent from the set of The Tourist when he learned of his father’s death.1 credit
Jamie Dornan sang “Everlasting Love” at the premiere of “Belfast”

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