The actor Jamie Dornan has revealed he was stuck in hotel quarantine in Australia when he received the news that his father, Jim, had died from Covid after being hospitalised for a routine knee operation.
Dornan, 39, most famous for Fifty Shades of Grey and crime drama television series The Fall, found himself on the other side of the world with four days of his quarantine remaining when his father died last March, and was unable to travel back to his native Northern Ireland.
Dornan was required to 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 has been left stranded in Australia’s outback.
Figures released by the BBC on Friday showed The Tourist is the third most successful drama launch on iPlayer, having been streamed more than 18m times.
Losing his father made 2021 “the worst year … and the hardest” of his life, Dornan told the Sun.
“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,” he said.
Dornan’s father, Jim, was a renowned obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast and is said to have been proud that his son is starring in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-tipped eponymous film set there, alongside Dame Judi Dench.
The coming of age comedy-drama about a young boy and his working-class family getting caught up in Northern Ireland’s Troubles in the late 1960s received seven Golden Globe nominations and won in the Best Screenplay category. It will hit UK cinemas in late January.
Dornan, who lives in rural Gloucestershire with his wife, Amelia Warner, 39, and their three young daughters, said that the plot of Belfast resonated with him on a personal level, and still calls himself a “Belfast man”, although he left the city aged 20.
In the film, Dornan plays a father who has come to England to work in the hope his family can join him there and leave the tensions between Protestants and Catholics in Belfast behind.
“[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 said.
“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.”
Jim supported his son’s pursuit of an acting career and helped him navigate the loss of his mother, Lorna, from pancreatic cancer when he was 16, telling his son: “Don’t let this be the thing that defines you.”
“I’ve been subjected, early on in my life and now, to a lot of pain and loss,” Dornan said.