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One of the most memorable scenes in “ Belfast ” is when Jamie Dornan's character serenades his wife (played by Caitriona Balfe) with “ Everlasting Love.” The lighting, choreography and wardrobe makes Dornan look like a matinee idol.
As the film makes the rounds at award shows — its ensemble is nominated at the SAG awards and it's tied with “West Side Story” with 11 nominations at the Critics' Choice Awards — Dornan says he has been approached “more than once” by “awards commentator-type pundits” about whether he would perform the song at this year's Academy Awards, if asked.
“Unless faced with the actual sincere prospect of it, I don't really know how to answer that,” said Dornan. But he does add, “I would be so terrified to have to do something like that. I remember my mate years ago sang at the Oscars and I said to him at the time, ‘I can’t think of anything worse than what you have to do,’" he said, laughing.
It would be a surprising move but Dornan is intrigued with those who keep people guessing. He counts “Belfast” director Kenneth Branagh as someone who checks that box. Branagh has starred in TV, stage and film and directed films ranging from Shakespeare to “Thor.”
“How cool is his career that everyone sees him as representing something different. I love that and it's inspiring.”
“Belfast” stars Jude Hill, along with Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds and Colin Morgan. The story is told from the perspective of Hill's 9-year-old character, so sometimes scenes with Dornan and Balfe are partly obstructed because the camera only shows what the boy sees.
“Often his view is obscured by a staircase or door frame or whatever it is, he's hiding around the corner. So you often end up in these really quite cool abstract shots because that’s kind of like how he would see," Dornan said.
Dornan is also enjoying the success of his new series “ The Tourist,” now airing in the UK and coming this year to HBO Max. He plays a man who wakes up in an Australia hospital with amnesia and kicks off a twisty race to figure out who he is and what's happened.
“The response in the UK to that show is insane. It's so cool because it is sort of a slightly bonkers show, but in the best way. And I just wanted people to be willing to go on the ride with it because it’s very unique in its tone," he said.
Dornan says “The Tourist” is so surprising that he jokes he's “not sure I still know all the answers and I've seen it all.” He also says it's one of his projects he's actually made a point to watch because so many people were talking about it.
Like most, television is a big part of Dornan's night life with his wife, musician Amelia Warner. He says the clear favorite “like every single person who has a television,” is HBO's “Succession.” “That's something we devour. We're also in the middle of ‘The Shrink Next Door,’ which I'm enjoying. My wife will watch ‘And Just Like That’ and I won't. I'll go and get some work done."
“I actually went to do something the other night and she was going to watch ‘And Just Like That.’ Whatever I went to do got canceled and I came back and she was like gutted," he laughed. "I said, ‘You know what? You can have your night.’"
Dornan, who is perhaps best-known for his role in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, credits the 2013 TV series “ The Fall," for changing his career. He said “The Fall," where he played a serial killer — masked as a grief counselor — has continued to have “bursts of life" thanks to streaming.
“I was shooting ‘Belfast’ in the summer of 2020 and everyone in the crew was talking about ‘The Fall’ on set. And I said, ‘You’re watching ‘The Fall’?' and I realized it had just been put up on Netflix in the UK."
While “Belfast” continues to move along the awards circuit, Dornan is reading scripts to figure out his next move. He also co-wrote a film screenplay last year that he hopes to get made in the next year or so. Writing, he says, is something he's always done but it's hard to commit the time to.
“We have three kids. It’s lunacy at any given moment in our private life, so it's very hard to find time, especially if you’re working. You put all the limited free time you do have with the kids." He says during lockdown he was able to get more accomplished because he and his wife would trade shifts with the kids to each get work done.
“My biggest fear is being idle. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to do a lot of different stuff, particularly the last few years. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas beyond standing on my mark and saying my lines. I want to do other stuff in that world.”