With three new films — and a moody fragrance campaign for Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord — Jamie Dornan is having an action-packed fall. We caught up with the Northern Irish actor to talk about work ethic, fatherhood, and the genius of Steve Guttenberg.
So I was flipping through the channels last night on TV and Fifty Shades of Grey popped up. And I realized you’ve already done the big Hollywood trilogy that’s gonna be on TV for as long as people still have TVs. How does that affect the choices you make now?
It gives you more choices. Post-franchise and between movies, a lot of the stuff I’ve done has been independent films. I’ve done studio stuff again this year, but last year, I did a lot of independent stuff without doing the big studio stuff that makes a lot of money. So it gave me a lot more choice. It gave me a balance. I think it’s cool to dip into the studio system, but I don’t think I’d be satisfied doing that a lot of the time, you know what I mean?
Of course. So what are your hopes and dreams as an actor?
I don’t have too many. In my life, I feel very fortunate to work consistently — I know it’s not like that for a lot of actors. and I don’t take that for granted. I’d like to just keep working and doing things I want to do. I don’t find myself in a position where I’m working because I have to and I’m not enjoying it anymore. I would stop then. I would find something else that satisfied me. But I still enjoy it and I’ve got stuff coming out that I’m really proud of. I’ve very much enjoyed the ride. So if I can keep doing that and providing for my family, that’s all I care about.
You have a couple of kids, right? Have they seen Fifty Shades of Grey?
They have not! No…not for the kids.
But does being a father affect how you approach your work?
Having kids makes you a bit more focused, I think. Suddenly you’re not just doing it for yourself. It’s not just about you and your ego, it becomes about needing to provide, and that’s at the root of every decision you make. It’s about making sure you can support the other people that literally need you. So it does change you. And I am conscious of not having done a lot of stuff that they could watch but I’m working on that! I did a small part in Trolls 2. They are very excited about that.
Are they? Do they understand what you do for a living?
My eldest daughter, when she was two — she’s about four-and-a-half, nearly five now — thought that I was a “tractor,” because we live in the countryside and we see a lot of tractors. We’d pass by a tractor and she’d go, “Look daddy that’s you!” I thought that was quite cool.
You were talking about doing this while it’s still fun, but when did you first decide that this was the thing you wanted to do?
Pretty early on. I think if you can enjoy your work, you’re very lucky. I very much enjoy this job and the creativity and the openness of it. I just knew very early in my life that I wasn’t someone who wanted to work in an office environment. But it’s one thing to know that and another thing to go with that feeling and try to do something outside of that, because there’s a safety that comes with a nine-to-five. Thankfully, I was mad enough at 19 or whatever to make that choice and it’s paid off. But I realize that it was the risky thing to do, it doesn’t always work out.
Who were your heroes growing up?
I loved a lot of nonsense stuff like Police Academy — Steve Guttenberg was my idea of cool when I was a kid, or Rick Moranis from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. And I aways loved Steve Martin.
Is that the kind of stuff you’re still into?
I find it hard if there’s Police Academy on not to watch it. The other day I heard there’s talk about a reboot of the franchise, which would be kind of amazing.
Let’s talk about Private War, about the war correspondent Marie Colvin.
I’m very proud of that film. It’s a very important story about very important lives and hopefully it opens people’s eyes a bit to what journalists put themselves through to tell us the impact the war has on civilians rather than governments and soldiers.
“This is just a world away from what my mates do. They all work in finance and property and law. They’re proper grownups and I’m still here playing dress-up.”
What kind of research do you do for a movie like that?
It was good, because I play a real person, [war photographer] Paul Conroy, who was with us the entire time on set. He and I are very close now. He’s got some stories. The stuff those people went through…he’s seen some horrific stuff and I have some photographs of stuff he’s taken that are very hard to even fathom. You could sit with him all night while he tells stories of war zones.
Before you acted you were a model for a bit. Tell me about your personal style.
I don’t think about it much. I disliked being a model — I really saw it as a means to an end. It was good to me and I was fortunate to meet great people. But not a lot of people wanted to do that growing up. Not where I come from, anyway. I sort of grew up in a rugby-playing environment.
What do your buddies from back home think of you now?
I still have the same group of mates since I was a kid. Can’t shake those guys. They’re proud, but they won’t tell you too often — probably the opposite. But this is just a world away from what my mates do. They all work in finance and property and law. They’re proper grownups and I’m still here playing dress-up.
And how did your relationship with Hugo Boss come about?
It’s been a long-standing relationship, actually — I’d done three or four campaigns with them when I was modelling.
What attracted you to Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord? What do you like about it?
I genuinely do love it and find it very masculine and not overpowering. It’s an everyday fragrance. Plus the campaign is a beautiful piece of work.
Do you have any tips for guys who don’t wear a lot of fragrance?
When I was a kid, I would either save up all year or wait for Christmas, because it was quite expensive, and then whatever you got was the one you wore for the year. But it’s nice to put something on. It gives you the confidence to go out there.
AND ABOUT THAT SCENT…
Jamie Dornan is the perfect man to rep Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. An outer layer of dark, brooding cocoa absolute is warmed with notes of ginger, maninka fruit and mocha — equal parts romantic, approachable, and unexpected.