“A brutal time”: While Jamie Dornan was isolating in Australia, his father died of COVID.

For Irish actor Jamie Dornan, grief is a revolving door. 

It is no secret his career within the last decade has reached immeasurable heights, considering the blockbuster success of the 50 Shades of Grey films - which he starred in - and the projected success of his latest project, The Tourist.

However, for Dornan, 2021 was considered "the worst year…  and the hardest" after the loss of his father, Jim, whom he described as a "beacon of positivity in my life".

Watch Jamie Dornan as he speaks on Jimmy Kimmel Live about his father's incredible life. Post continues after video.

Video via Youtube.

The worst part for the 50 Shades actor was that his inability to get to his father, who had passed away in a hospital in Dubai - due to the strict quarantine measures in Australia. 

"His death was pretty brutal," he revealed to The Sun. "I was in quarantine in a hotel in Sydney with my whole family, with still three days of quarantine [left on] the day he died, not able to leave this f**king room."

He continued: "It’s been a brutal time for lots of reasons and for lots of people. We’re all just trying to ride it out and come out the other side - and hope we’ve got our heads intact."

Considering his exponential fame and the limited detail we know about Dornan's personal life, let's look back at the actor's time in and out of the spotlight. 

Jamie Dornan’s early life.

Raised in Belfast, Ireland, Dornan was born in 1982.

While it is no secret the international actor has been able to make himself a household name, his kick-start into the industry was difficult and full of challenges. 

Beginning as a model in 2001, the New York Times dubbed Dornan 'the Golden Torso' in 2008, after he appeared in campaigns for Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein. 

He was also employed as the face for Dior Homme, much to his surprise. 

"Why am I the face of Dior Homme?" Dornan recalled to NYT. 


"At Dior, they kept eliminating people until it was down to two.... I wasn’t really focused on it at the time, you know. I don’t really know why Heidi [Klum] chose me. I’m not the best-looking guy around."

Jamie Dornan, 2006. Image: Getty. 

By 2006, he'd begun paving a successful career for himself, after landing himself a reprising role in Once Upon A Time as 'Sheriff Graham Hubert'. For Dornan though, he'd expected to go into comedy from the beginning. 

"When I first started acting, when I first moved to LA, I only wanted to do comedy. That’s what I thought I’d do," he explained to Marie Claire in 2021.

He went on to say every challenge he's been given throughout his career has been a welcome opportunity. 

"For me, I don’t understand the point of doing this for a career if you don’t want to explore every facet that the job serves up, by all the different mediums of it, all the different genres, all the different challenges of it.

"And I love a challenge in life. Always have, always will... I love the exploration that this job allows."

Dornan is one of three siblings, and the only son to Jim and Lorna.

Sadly, when the now 39-year-old was just 16, his mother passed away from pancreatic cancer aged 50.

Just 13 months later, four of Dornan's friends died in a tragic car accident. 

In a candid conversation with the How To Fail podcast, he admitted the grief which stems from death "affects you every day". 


After being placed in counselling as a young teen to help deal with the loss of his "glamorous" mother, he admitted it was a "bleak" time. 

"I had counselling. I didn't have it until the accident which was 13 months after my mum died. It had a huge impact on the entire country but particularly my friendship group. It was so bleak clearly and affects you every single day," he said.

Dornan admitted that with the help of his sisters and father; he was able to harness memories and glimpses of who his mum was as a person. 

"It’s a very odd thing, and not a very nice thing to have to admit, that there are many aspects of my mum that I don’t remember," he explained. "Truly, just don’t have a very strong recollection and I use my sisters a lot and my dad to try to build on the memories I have of mum, because they’re fleeting for me, to be honest.'

He went on to say he does his best not to "forget" anything he remembers of his mum. 

"I love it when something does come into my mind, I’ll get this little nugget that comes into my mind of something that I had forgotten, that my sister will mention to me or something...

"I love that and try to harness that as best I can, make sure I don't forget that again."

While speaking to the BBC, he admitted the pain comes in waves, especially now that he is a father: "You never get over it and now that I have kids myself I see they don’t have a grandmother from my side — that’s an odd thing."

Sadly, Dornan's also lost his father in 2021. Jim Dornan was a renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast. During his career, he delivered over 6,000 babies before he retired. 

He was also the president of the Northern Ireland Pancreatic Cancer charity. 

At the age of 73, he sadly died from COVID-19. 

At the time, Dornan was stuck quarantining at a hotel in Sydney for his role in The Tourist.

Jamie Dornan with Jessica Dornan Lynas and father Dr Jim Dornan, 2018. Image: Getty. 


"He was the greatest of men, so kind and wonderful, and he gave so much time and honesty and respect to everyone he met," Dornan reflected in conversation with the Irish Times. "There’s elements that I hope have rubbed off on me, that I’m really trying to take on through for the rest of my life. And a lot of those elements I definitely tried to put into Pa, because I could recognise the goodness."

For Dornan, his father supporting his son's (incredibly successful) pursuit of an acting career helped aid the actor through the loss of his mother. 

"Don't let his be the thing that defines you," was a quote he said his father often used in reference to her death.

Jamie Dornan's acting career.

After his successful modelling career, which saw him work with the likes of Heidi Klum and Kate Moss, he landed a major role in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette as 'Count Axel Fersen' - a member of high Swedish nobility and the rumoured secret lover of Marie. 

For the film, he rubbed shoulders with Hollywood royalty including actor Kirsten Dunst and director, Sofia Coppola. 

Kirsten Dunst and Jamie Dornan in Marie Antoinette. Image: Columbia Pictures. 


Dornan went on to act in a number of series and movies, before landing the role of the mysterious BDSM fanatic 'Christian Grey' on 50 Shades of Grey. He worked alongside Dakota Johnson for all three films. 

From there, he gained critical Emmy and Oscar nominations for his role. 

His most personal role yet though, has everything to do with where he grew up. 

Belfast, set to release in Australian theatres next month, is a coming-of-age story chronicling the life of a working class family during the 1960s. 

Dornan stars alongside Dame Judi Dench, and says the film holds a deep place in his heart.

"[Belfast] is home. We probably feel like that’s a particular thing, a ‘Belfast man’, and I think we all know what that means," Dornan explained, as reported by The Guardian. 

“If you’re from Belfast, no matter what era you grew up in, you’ve been through something. You’ve been through a certain hardship and you’ve been tested at many different stages of your life."

It has received seven Golden Globe nominations and won in the Best Screenplay category. 

Belfast movie poster, 2021. Image: Focus Features. 

Belfast was not just personal for Dornan, but his father as well who sadly did not get to see the film.


"I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s sort of crazy to me that this film I have coming out post my dad passing," he told Variety. "What I take great comfort in is knowing that dad was fully aware that I did this film, I shot it last summer, dad passed in March."

He added that his father had cared deeply about his acting career, but was unfamiliar with other actors. 

"I always had this hilarious thing with dad, he was so into what I was doing in my career, just really cared and was so crazy proud but he often didn’t really know a lot of the actors. I’d be like 'Dad, I’m doing this really cool, exciting film' and he goes 'who’s in it?' and I’d tell him and he’d have no idea.

"We are talking about really cool people, like Cillian Murphy or whoever. But until I said someone of his vintage that he would know.”

"It’s really bittersweet for me... Crazy proud I get to tell this story, my dad is Belfast through and through and God he would loved to have seen this film," the 50 Shades actor shared.

"I feel, it is evident through it, I feel my father is a part of this film in so many ways already."

Dornan's latest flick The Touristwhich was filmed on Australian soil, has already broken records. 

BBC reported that throughout December 27 to January 3, the program raked in 22 million streams on iPlayer. 

Created and written by acclaimed writers Harry and Jack Williams, The Tourist features a wealth of homegrown Australian talent, with Dornan as the star - although he is only ever referred to as 'The Man'. 

Filled with plot twists, The Tourist is a story of self-discovery and uncovering the truth. 

For Dornan, filming in one of Australia's famous red deserts was the ultimate challenge. 

"That’s the red dust of the outback taking its toll," he told Sydney Morning Herald, in reference to his squinting throughout the show. "Legit, we were dealing with real dust storms while we were shooting there [in the outback] in March or April. It’s a filthy environment to work in, but in a great way it looks amazing. I feel dirty for a lot of this show."

Listen to The Spill, Mamamia's entertainment podcast hosted by Kee Reece and Laura Brodnik. Post continues after audio. 

Jamie Dornan's relationships. 

In addition to his high-profile modelling career, Dornan also made headlines early on for his relationship with actor Keira Knightley. 

Jamie Dornan and Keira Knightley, 2004. Image: Getty. 


The pair met in 2003 while modelling for an Asprey campaign and quickly began dating soon after. 

While the couple were young and seemingly public with their relationship, neither Knightley nor Dornan ever officially confirmed it.

However, by August 2005, Dornan’s reps told PEOPLE the pair had officially called it quits. 

"Keira and Jamie have decided to call a halt to their relationship in its current phase but they remain completely committed to each other as friends and will continue to see each other in this capacity," the statement read. 

While they both remained relatively quiet about their split, in 2008 Dornan admitted he felt “second-rate” next to his A-lister girlfriend. 

"There is a big pressure when you go out with someone like Keira," he explained to Mail On Sunday. "You can feel a bit second-rate and that's what started to happen. It's not like I was bringing the bread to the table - and that can start to affect everything.

"The man is meant to be the Alpha in the relationship on the money and power front and clearly I was not. You feel you have to be dominant in other areas and that leads to problems."

He continued: "Keira could see what I was going through and it would have been better if I'd kept it hidden from her. It's a slow process, trying to be this Alpha Male."

In 2010, Dornan met aspiring actor Amelia Warner, who he says he was in love with from their first meeting. 

"I was smitten with her from the start, I really was. I’m more in love with her today than I was at the start," he told the Belfast Telegraph. 


By 2012, the pair were engaged, and in 2013 they married in a private ceremony. 

Jamie Dornan and Amelia Warner. Image: Getty. 

While marriage is a difficult process for any couple, Dornan has maintained their only challenges are based purely around needing to travel for his career.

"We get frustrated at times, usually when travelling with the kids, but we’d never let anything boil and become a thing," he said.

"We know couples who are plate-throwers, but that’s just not us. I’m glad it’s not us - plates are expensive ..."

While Dornan's meteoric fame reached its peak after he starred in 50 Shades of Grey, he's made it clear his wife is yet to see any of the films. 

"I’d like to think she’s more in love with me than that guy [Christian Grey]. I know she hasn’t seen the movies or anything," the actor said on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. 

The couple share three children together - Dulcie, eight, Elva, five and Alberta, two - and prefer to keep them virtually out of the spotlight. 

"The biggest change for us was having kids. We now live in the Cotswolds, rather than London," he explained. "We are very removed from all the hype. I don’t see that stuff in the papers."

Feature Image: Getty / Mamamia.

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