Jamie Dornan hints at a musical project
LOS ANGELES—Jamie Dornan was pretending to be embarrassed. With a smile, he was turning his back halfway on me. I had just told him that I recently heard again his short version of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” from the “Fifty Shades Freed” soundtrack. I said he has a good voice.
I also told the actor that I Googled him as a singer and got to watch him croon “Fairytale” in a video back when he had a folk band named Sons of Jim with his friend David Alexander and his acting career hasn’t taken off yet.
“Don’t make me sing that song now,” he said with a laugh. Wearing a gray wool sweater with sleeves rolled up and dark pants, the Irish actor sat amid the spectacular backdrop of Manhattan’s skyline.
In “Robin Hood,” he stars as Will Scarlet in director Otto Bathurst’s retelling of the legendary heroic outlaw who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. Taron Egerton has the title role with Jamie Foxx, Eve Hewson as Marian and Tim Minchin also in the cast.
I asked him about his musical side. “I love it,” answered the man beloved by many swooning fans for his Christian Grey role in the “Fifty Shades” movies. “I am a very annoying singer. I sing around the house. As Evelyn, my publicist, will tell you, I sing a lot. I am just one of those people whom I myself would probably hate to hang around with.
“Other people sing a lot, too. Taron has a really incredible voice. The hair and makeup trailer was often filled with him singing Sinatra songs. But we didn’t complain because his voice is great. Yeah, singing is something I have always enjoyed.”
Then he revealed, “I love the idea of doing something musical at some stage. I had an exciting meeting last week about something in that genre. So it would be cool to marry the things together.”
As for his experience as a frontman of Sons of Jim, Jamie said, “I would never get to the environment where I would be in a band again. We started that band when I was 16. I was out of it by 24 so that was something I did when I was younger.
“But it’s a fun thing to be able to do a little bit [of singing] and if I could use that in a film, then I would love to at some point now. There are some great singers in this movie—Jamie, Taron and I am sure Eve (Hewson, daughter of Bono and Ali Hewson) can sing a bit, too, because of her father. Tim Minchin is an amazing singer, too. So we can do a very cool ‘Robin Hood’ band and we should actually do that. Take it on the road.”
A devoted father
A devoted family man, Jamie said his wife, singer-actress Amelia Warner, and their two daughters, Dulcie and Elva, visited him once on the set of “Robin Hood,” which was filmed mostly in Hungary.
“My schedule in this, compared to other movies, wasn’t as grueling,” he explained. “So I would fly in to Budapest sometimes for two days and then fly back (to UK, where he lives). I would just go to my family. If I am at a job for a very long time and far away, they come with me for the entire time. But if I can fly home, I will fly home.”
The 36-year-old confirmed that they have sold their LA home. “We weren’t really spending enough time in LA. But I love LA. I am there now filming. We live outside of Cotswolds, two hours outside of London in the countryside. That is where Elva has started school now. We are very much focusing our life there.”
On the sex of their coming third child, which they announced last month, he replied, “Oh God, we don’t know that.”
Teased if he’s going for a brood of six, Jamie quipped, “Oh Jesus, six kids? What’s that, the Steve Martin film, ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ (laughs)? I don’t think so. We make great kids. So if you make great kids, you want to keep on making them. But that is not really my decision. That is all Amelia’s.”
On where he spends most of his movie earnings, he joked, “Am I getting paid for this?” Then he said, “I have a young family and that is where my pot would go if I was lucky in that respect to do a job. Just setting up a home is my main focus. I don’t buy myself anything really. We live a pretty quiet life in the countryside.”
“Of course, I do,” he answered when asked if he keeps in touch with his “Fifty Shades” costar, Dakota Johnson. “I have been texting her this week because she is spending a lot of time in Malibu at the moment. Obviously, we all know what is happening there (the Woolsey Fire sweeping across Malibu). She is safe but she had to evacuate.
“I keep bumping into her at the moment because her ‘Suspiria’ is quite similar to my ‘A Private War’ (promotions) schedule. So we have been at the same place at the same time quite a lot, which is nice. It’s also nice to come out on the other side of that mad sort of adventure we went through together (the ‘Fifty Shades’ movies) and be there representing films that are getting a lot of great reception. To see each other on the other side is a nice thing.”
Ribbed that he and Dakota went to “college” together, Jamie cracked as he laughed, “Some kind of college! Maybe that (‘Fifty Shades’) is what college is like for a lot of people. I would say that we will be friends for life as a result of it. It has given us these opportunities that we wouldn’t otherwise.
Jamie and Rosamund Pike are earning good reviews for their performances in “A Private War,” a drama based on the true story of war correspondent Marie Colvin and her longtime photographer, Paul Conroy. He said it was tough portraying Conroy, who was on the set because he served as a consultant on the film.
Element of pressure
“Playing a character that really exists always adds a certain element of pressure,” he pointed out. “I have played three or four real life people in my career, none of whom had been alive until Paul Conroy. Not only was he alive but he was on set every day with me. That was very daunting. On day one, I told him not to be there (laughs). But I had a very great relationship with him early on so I was able to say, ‘Don’t be at the monitors today. I can’t really handle it on my first day on the job.’
“By the end, it became this incredible and valuable opportunity to have the man himself there and not just for myself. But for Rose (Rosamund) as well, to be able to mine his mind to tell us what it was actually like in those situations. Because only he knew what Marie and Paul were going through. So I really enjoyed that process.”
He shared, “I may never do a job again that affects me so emotionally as ‘A Private War’ has done. It was the most cathartic job I have ever done. It was incredibly satisfying but also moving. I am very proud of the result of the film and very pleased at how well it’s being received. That might not happen again so I am very grateful.”
On “Robin Hood,” he said, “It’s very physical, obviously. There are lots of sequences where we are all quite active. It is a testosterone-driven film and we have made Marian so beautifully. That is a very strong female character. She is not some damsel in distress version that we see in the past.”
“It’s fun playing a villain,” Jamie continued. “I have played bad people before. On BBC 2, I did ‘The Fall’ and I played a bad person (Paul Spector) … I enjoyed that. As an actor, particularly in the beginning of my career, no one ever saw me as a villainous type or bad guy. I was always like in the fluffy boyfriend roles.
The movie’s ending leaves open the possibility of a sequel and an expanded role for his character, Will. “I don’t know about that,” he said when asked if there’s a script already for the sequel.
On his costar Taron, Jamie said, “I always say it but this industry is the smallest industry in the world. Everyone knows everyone or certainly there’s one, maybe two degrees of maximum separation. I know so many people who have worked with Taron before I did. I was a fan of his before I met him. We just instantly hit it off. He’s got a great, fun energy and he is annoyingly charismatic (laughs).
“Taron looks frustratingly good on screen. You are very drawn to him and he has this thing as an actor.
“I like pranks and sometimes, so does he, it turns out. We continue to maintain the relationship beyond ‘Robin Hood.’ He has become a great friend.”
Pressed for an example of his prank on Taron, Jamie obliged: “He had a better trailer than me so I switched the names on the trailers. Sometimes if we had gone to a new location, he didn’t know where his trailer was. He would turn up and see his name and go in. My trailer was very nice. I am not complaining but his trailer was nicer. So yeah, just stupid stuff like that.”
On future projects, including talk of IRA-themed movies, including “Borderland,” Jamie, who was born just outside Belfast, Ireland, disclosed, “I know they are there online but whether they are actually reality … There are a couple of things that sometimes happen with movies. They get announced and then the scheduling and everything get pushed back.
“I come from a place that has a very rich, very deep and extremely complicated history. There’s a lot of great stories that come out of that. I always want to tell stories from home. But I just don’t know what the realities are of them happening in the next while. Because I am filming something else at the moment and then I start another movie in three weeks’ time. Neither of them are from that time but next year, hopefully yeah.”
“If Allan Cubitt, who created ‘The Fall’ and changed my life, asked me to be an extra in something, I would do it. I just worked with him again. We shot in Belfast the whole summer on ‘Death and Nightingales’ (a TV miniseries). It’s coming to BBC this month.”
E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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