Jamie Dornan fled to rural hideaway after ‘ridicule’ over Fifty Shades of Grey | Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan fled to rural hideaway after ‘ridicule’ over Fifty Shades of Grey | Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan fled to a rural hide­away when critics panned his performance in Fifty Shades of Grey, the actor has revealed. An empty house – offered as a retreat by his director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and her actor husband, Aaron – allowed him to avoid the “ridicule” that followed the release of the film in 2015.

“I hid,” he admits to Lauren Laverne in a wide-ranging and “very emotional” interview this weekend.

The star of ­television hits The Tourist and The Fall tells Laverne, host of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, that he and his wife, the performer and musician Amelia Warner, together with their first baby, Dulcie, concealed themselves until reactions died down. “I was coming off the back of career-altering reviews for The Fall and Bafta nominations and all of this sort of madness … and then I was brought to just ridicule, almost,” Dornan tells Laverne.

The huge box office success of the film has since done much to soften the blow, admits Dornan, 41, but the contrast in critical receptions was hard to take. “They [the Taylor-Johnsons] let us have their place in the country and we hid there for a while and just shut ourselves from the world for a bit and then came out the other side,” he says.

Jamie Dornan, as Christian Grey, in the 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey, which received poor reviews but was a box office hit. Photograph: Focus Features/Allstar/FOCUS FEATURES

The profitability of the film, which made more than £1bn and was based on EL James’s bestselling erotic novel, meant sequels were quickly set up.

“It was a strange thing because then you are like: ‘Well, there is a bit of ridicule here, yet I’m now contractually doing two more of them’ – and knowing there would be more of that damnation to come,” Dornan says. “And even now, when I’ve just had very glowing reviews for recent work, there wouldn’t be many of them that don’t mention Fifty Shades. A lot of reviews are like: ‘He’s great, but lest we forget, here’s when he wasn’t great.’ Give us a chance!”

The Northern Irish actor tells Laverne he does not regret taking the role of Christian Grey and explains that he may have been toughened up early by the death of his mother Lorna, a nurse, when he was 16, and the trauma of losing four close friends in a road accident soon afterwards.

Struggling to hold back tears, the star, who plays Pa in Kenneth Branagh’s film Belfast, recalls how his father, Jim, a renowned obstetrician who died during the pandemic, first broke the news of his mother’s ­terminal illness to him, sitting in the family car after a rugby game, and how his sisters went on to get him through the loss. “I am sort of thankful it was told to me straight like that,” he says. “It’s a funny thing. I sometimes feel guilty saying this, but there’s a lot I don’t remember about her. You are not expecting any of that to be taken away.”

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