Actor Jamie Dornan has revealed he was stuck in a quarantined hotel in Australia when he learned his father Jim had died of Covid after being hospitalized for routine knee surgery.
Dornan, 39, most famous for Fifty Shades of Gray and the drama TV series The Fall, found himself halfway around the world with four days of quarantine remaining when his father died last March, and was unable to return to his native Northern Ireland.
Dornan had to self-isolate in Australia ahead of filming BBC drama The Tourist, in which he plays a man who has no idea who he is and why he got stuck in outback Australia.
Figures released by the BBC on Friday showed The Tourist is the third most successful drama launch on iPlayer, having been streamed more than 18 million times.
The loss of his father has made 2021 “the worst…and toughest year” of his life, Dornan told the Sun.
“It was a brutal time for many reasons and for many people. We’re all trying to get out of it and out the other side – and hope we have our heads intact,” he said.
Dornan’s father Jim was a renowned obstetrician and gynecologist at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and would have been proud to have his son star in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s film of the same name alongside Dame Judi Dench.
The coming-of-age comedy-drama about a young boy and his working-class family caught up in the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s received seven Golden Globe nominations and won Best Screenplay. It will be released in UK cinemas at the end of January.
Dornan, who lives in rural Gloucestershire with his wife, Amelia Warner, 39, and their three young daughters, said the Belfast plot resonated with him on a personal level and still calls himself a “Belfast man”, although he left town 20 years ago.
In the film, Dornan plays a father who came to England for work in the hope that his family could join him there and leave behind the tensions between Protestants and Catholics in Belfast.
“[Belfast] is at home. We probably feel like he’s a special thing, a ‘Belfast man’, and I think we all know what that means,” Dornan said.
“If you’re from Belfast, whatever era you grew up in, you’ve been through something. You have passed through certain trials and you have been tested at many stages of your life.
Jim supported his son’s pursuit of an acting career and helped him through the loss of his mother, Lorna, to pancreatic cancer at age 16, saying to his son: “Don’t let that be the thing that defines you.”
“I was subjected, early in my life and now, to a lot of pain and loss,” Dornan said.