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Calvin Klein came knocking too, and the resultant pictures in pants earned him the nickname ‘the Golden Torso’. And then he went to LA for auditions during the pilot season, which he describes as ‘one of the most dehumanising things anyone could ever go through – on an entertainment level, that is.’ He ‘got lucky’, with a reasonably big part in the first season of the hit ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, playing a sheriff who turns out to be the Huntsman from Snow White.
It premiered in America in 2011 and netted ratings of 12 million a week.
His own origins are about as far off showbusiness as you could get, with the startling exception of his great-aunt (whom he never met), who was the actress Greer Garson, best known for Mrs Miniver and Goodbye, Mr Chips.
Dornan, 31, grew up in a very different kind of Hollywood from Garson’s – Holywood, Down, a town on the edge of Belfast, with two older sisters and his father, Jim, now one of Ireland’s leading obstetricians and ‘the most energetic man I know’, and his mother, Lorna, a nurse.
‘Including a razor.’ At the time of my set visit – summer 2013 – Dornan is best known for his modelling career (particularly his shirtless campaigns for Calvin Klein), and for his mesmeric performance as an alarmingly attractive serial killer in BBC Two’s drama series The Fall – which also starred Gillian Anderson as the police officer determined to track him down – which aired last May.
Then, days after I meet him again in October 2013, news breaks that he has landed a role that makes him the most talked-about actor in the world.
The Troubles were still rumbling along in the background during his childhood, which inevitably affected him.
He describes this to me as a ‘totally hideous, life-changing circumstance that you carry every day, I guess, and that’s not going to change.The actor Jamie Dornan is slighter in the flesh than I expected, and he’s got a mullet.We are on the set of New Worlds, Channel 4’s follow-up to 2008’s critically acclaimed The Devil’s Whore.No, I’m asking for work, and I’m asking to get paid for doing something I love.I’m not asking to be followed down a street by some f****** pap.’ This sentiment is exacerbated by his previous experience of this world, when he was in a relationship with Keira Knightley for two years, from 2003 to 2005.