JAMIE DORNAN was on the other side of the world with four days of hotel quarantine left when he received the worst news imaginable.
His dear father, Jim, passed away from Covid after being hospitalized for routine knee surgery.
Stranded in Australia last March, where he was asked to quarantine before filming the BBC drama TouristsJamie was unable to return to his native Northern Ireland to deal with the grief of his loss.
Suddenly, Jamie, 39, is famous for starring in Fifty Shades Of Gray on the big screen and sci-fi thriller Fall, finds himself trapped in a horrifying situation caused by a global pandemic.
So he understands the trauma that so many people have gone through over the past few years.
“It’s been a devastating time for many reasons and for so many people,” Jamie said. We’re all just trying to get over it and get out the other side – and hopefully we still have our heads intact. “
The actor is receiving much praise for his turn in the BBC1 thriller The Tourist, playing a mysterious man with amnesia, who has no idea why he’s trapped in the middle of nowhere. The Australian Outback.
And he’s getting even more critical acclaim for his stunning portrayal of a father caught up in the Troubles of Northern Ireland, in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-winning film Belfast.
Jamie’s father, Jim, is a renowned obstetrician and gynecologist in the Northern Irish capital – and is proud that his son is starring in a movie set there.
Most read in The Irish Sun
A photograph of Jim with Sir Kenneth at the city’s Royal Victoria Hospital standing proudly in the Dornan family home.
Jamie said: ‘There’s a photo on our bookshelf of my dad and Ken opening the door in the obstetrics department at the hospital where my dad spent most of his career.
“I remember thinking it was a big deal in our house when he got here and did it and met dad and stuff.”
Sadly, Jim will never get to see the film, which opens in theaters next week.
Losing a father makes 2021 “the worst year ever. . . and hardest” of his life, Jamie said.
Jim helped him navigate the loss of his mother Lorna to pancreatic cancer when Jamie was 16, telling his son: “Don’t let this define you.”
“I’ve suffered a lot of pain and loss early on in my life and now,” Jamie said.
Jim supported Jamie’s decision to become an actor after the radiant star grew tired of modeling for labels like Calvin Klein and Armani.
The risky move has paid off as the ex – once dubbed The Golden Torso – is on his way to becoming one of the golden boys of acting.
‘I really understand what it’s like to go to work. Every step I’ve taken since becoming a father – my career – has been for my family. That’s all I really care’
Jamie plays Pa in the new seven Golden Globe nominations and co-stars Dame Judi Dench.
The character is based on Branagh’s own father.
In 1969, Pa was working in England and wanted his family to join him there when tensions between the Protestant and Catholic communities in Belfast flared into deadly violence.
The plot is deeply personal for Jamie, who can’t stand being away from his daughters Dulcie, eight, Elva, five, and two-year-old Alberta.
He said: “I am a father to three girls and sometimes I have to say goodbye to them.
“I think I’ve really understood what it’s like to leave, often for the sake of the family – to work, to provide. Every step I take since becoming a father, my career is devoted to them. That’s all I really care about.
“I am so lucky to have three healthy little girls. I just miss them so much.”
Jamie met his wife Amelia Warner, 39, a musician and former actress, in 2010. They were married three years later.
They live in rural Gloucestershire, preferring local pubs to glitzy red carpet events.
Although Jamie has to travel the world for work, he doesn’t allow himself to be away from his children for more than two weeks at a time.
The family traveled with him to Australia for The Tourist – which Shalom Brune-Franklin plays his on-screen love — and they stayed there for several months during filming, with the kids enrolled in local schools.
The accolades coming in Jamie’s way have completed a remarkable turn, after his performance in the Fifty Shades trilogy was mocked.
Luckily, Jamie has enough thick skin to ignore the cruel extravagance.
“I can always give and take, so I am equipped for it,” he said.
And solving your problems by laughing is part of Belfast culture, says Jamie.
He said: “There is a resilience for men and women from Belfast. What I think is remarkable about people from the north of Ireland is that we have a sense of humour – which I think you need to get through some of the things we’ve all been through. “
Despite leaving the city at the age of 20, Jamie still calls himself a “Belfast man”.
‘Singing is a horror you can’t even imagine’
“It’s home,” he said. We can feel it’s something special, a ‘Belfast man’, and I think we all know what that means.
“If you’re from Belfast, no matter what era you grew up in, you’ve been through something.
“You’ve been through a certain difficulty and you’ve been tested at various stages in your life.”
The Troubles begins in Northern Ireland circa 1966, and the film is set three years later, as the Loyalists attack across Catholic areas, burning homes and businesses.
This escalated into terrorist attacks by paramilitary groups including the IRA and UDA until the Good Friday Agreement finally brought peace in 1998.
Jamie said: “I was born in 1982, right in the middle of a 30-year conflict.
“When you grow up in that environment, you are taught about that – you are taught about why people are fighting around you, what is this hatred based on, where does this start. Personally, I don’t think it’s taught enough”.
Rather than revolve around chaotic politics, Sir Kenneth’s film, shot in black and white, focuses on a family dealing with a tumultuous situation through love and humour. It is based on the director’s experience growing up in the city and his father’s decision to bring his young family to England.
Jamie laughed, “All the characters are based on people who were a part of Ken’s life.
“I was playing a version of his father. So that entails a new set of tensions. “
He also faced “the horror” of dancing and singing in one scene, as Pa performed Everlasting Love, which topped the UK charts for Love Affair in 1968.
His sparkling blue eyes, Jamie said: “It’s a horror you can’t even imagine.
“I’ve been singing a lot of things lately. I think the last four or five things I did, I sang in it. It’s become too routine. “
‘There is a resilience for men and women from
Belfast. There’s a sense of humor we have, that you need, to get through some of the things we’ve been through’
Pandemic restrictions meant Belfast could not be filmed in the city in its focal point.
One set was built in Berkshire and production begins in 2020, shortly after restrictions allow.
Lockdown also meant Jamie could not return to Northern Ireland for months.
When he was asked to film Belfast, it offered a chance to reconnect – albeit remotely.
He said: “I am away from home, I cannot go home to Belfast. I have a family there that I have not seen and cannot see.
“So I thought about home a lot and then I got a script called Belfast.”
Throughout his career, he has never been faced with an easier decision.
The star said: “I only imagined once in my career to make a movie named after the town that created me. So that’s an easy ‘yes’. ”
- Belfast (12A) will launch on Friday, January 21.
https://www.thesun.ie/tvandshowbiz/8208685/jamie-dornan-quarantine-australia-dad-death/ Belfast actor Jamie Dornan said, “I was stuck in hotel isolation in Australia when my beloved father passed away.