Jamie Dornan Is On A Roll

With The Tourist topping the Netflix chart, the Irish model turned actor is nailing everything he touches

Photography by BOO GEORGE
Fashion Direction by LUKE DAY


Jamie Dornan

BRUNELLO CUCINELLI jacket, $2,995, sweater, $1,250, and pants, $995.


Jamie Dornan is having a ball. The second season of his madcap show The Tourist is streaming on Netflix, and he and his wife, Amelia, have just been on a mini break in New York City, sans kids, for the first time in forever. “Mom and Dad hitting the town,” Dornan says, laughing. He makes fun of himself for becoming one of “those people” — tame, mild mannered, even middle-aged — who, on a date with his wife at The Polo Bar amid all the “flash and decadence,” pulled out a deck of cards to play a game before heading home at a very reasonable hour.

It is a bit different from when Dornan was coming to New York in his early 20s, he says, when he was one of the most sought-after male models in the world, fronting campaigns for Dior and Calvin Klein and forming an “it couple” with Keira Knightley. “In my 20s and early 30s, I was very much still going at 1 a.m.,” he says with a grin. “Now that is very rare. Now I’m a big golfer.”

The sought-afterness, however, hasn’t changed. Dornan recently starred in Loewe’s spring campaign, and judging by the rabid thirst in response to images of him slouching in an oversize knit pullover (not to mention the BTS videos posted by the brand’s creative director, Jonathan Anderson), he remains an elite sex symbol. “He is my number-one celebrity crush,” a friend messaged me in response to a post-interview selfie I posted with Dornan, before I received about a trillion more saying the same.


PRADA shirt, $1,050.


But for someone who spent his formative years in such a sexualized spotlight, Dornan doesn’t seem to have attached any of his identity to it. Nor does he seem to have developed any appetite for the gaze. “It was good to me,” he says of his modeling career. “I saw it as an opportunity to enjoy myself, to have fun with my friends and enjoy being in my 20s in the greatest city on earth. But I didn’t love the process, and I still don’t like the act of being photographed. I find it very exposing having a photograph taken. There’s nothing to hide behind.”

Performing is different, he says. Playing a character is different. When he is acting, “there’s usually a funny accent you’re doing or physicality or something to hide behind. You have words you have to say. So it’s not as vulnerable as being just you, trying to express your own self.”

There is a light drizzle over Central Park when we meet to chat, and Dornan walks using a rolled-up umbrella stick to practice his golf swing. There is a bright sort of buoyancy about him, gleeful Golden Retriever energy — or the wide-eyed wonder of a particularly happy child, which Dornan says he was. Born in 1982 in County Down, Northern Ireland, he grew up in Belfast. He describes his father — an ob-gyn who delivered both Protestant and Catholic babies throughout the country’s most fractured period — as the most optimistic person imaginable.


In my 20s and early 30s, I was very much still going at 1 a.m. Now that is very rare. Now I’m a big golfer.



Jamie Dornan

POLO RALPH LAUREN coat, $2,498, and shirt, $198.


Throughout our afternoon, he talks about the support, encouragement, and affection he received from his parents and two older sisters. He has spoken at some length in past interviews about the weight of losing his mother to cancer in his early teens (and then losing four of his closest friends in a car accident shortly thereafter), but always as a way to describe the tenderness of his family and describe the worldview and capacity for joy they provided for him. He is full of emotion and pride as he talks about his father, who passed away just as Dornan began work on Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film Belfast. Dornan, who plays a version of Branagh’s father, received a Golden Globe nomination for the role. “He would have loved it,” Dornan says of his dad.

In The Tourist, Dornan is in a different gear entirely, playing a man suffering from amnesia who has dropped to Earth in the Australian outback. In a lot of ways, it is the most classic leading role Dornan has ever played. His character is a heroic problem solver and charmingly prone to accidents, with the native intelligence of a super spy but a patchy recollection of pop culture (he knows what sombreros are, but not the Spice Girls). He sort of knows how to drive but doesn’t know what Mexican food he likes. He gives savvy relationship advice but doesn’t know (until he knows) that he likes to be choked during sex. The show, which was number one on Netflix upon release and the most-watched show in the UK last year, is a lot of fun. So much of that fun is watching Dornan’s character rediscover, by trial and error, who he is through what he likes. Do I like alcohol? he wonders. Oh yes, he finds, and then worries, Do I maybe like it too much? In the second season, The Tourist brings his character home to Ireland in search of more revelations about his identity, and plants him right into a generations-deep Hatfield-and-McCoy-type feud. High jinks ensue.


SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO shirt, $1,250, and pants, $1,390. GRENSON shoes, $520.


Playing with the show’s notion of self-discovery, it is fun to think aloud with Dornan about figuring out who we are, determining what we like, and considering alternative selves. Growing up in Belfast, Dornan played rugby, and apart from the freeing fun he felt in playing characters, messing around on the pitch with his mates was his favorite thing ever. If his sisters hadn’t talked him into appearing on a reality show about aspiring models, and if he hadn’t then become one of the most famous faces in fashion, and if he hadn’t made his acting debut in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette — if he hadn’t made a life out of playing dress-up and make-believe — Dornan says he would probably be equally happy and fulfilled working on the local sports news desk in Belfast.

“When I was younger, I probably only ever foresaw a life in and around sport,” he says. “I probably wasn’t good enough to play any sport professionally, but I was decent at lots of sports. I’m the kid who watched Jerry Maguire [the 1996 movie starring Tom Cruise] and wanted to be him. I thought being a sports agent would keep you close to the excitement and the drama and the intensity of it. I ended up nowhere near that.”

Mostly he credits the 2013 BBC drama The Fall as his sliding-doors moment. “It changed my life,” he says. In its three seasons, set in Belfast, Dornan plays a brooding serial killer in a kind of meditative dance with an investigating officer played by Gillian Anderson. He is phenomenal — so good and smoldering that it made perfect sense when the artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor Wood cast him as the romance novel object of desire Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey, a movie so commercially successful that Dornan and costar Dakota Johnson made two sequels.


I think a lot of actors are frustrated sports people. There are a lot of parallels.



BOTTEGA VENETA coat, tank top, and pants, prices upon request. IWC watch, $5,250.


When I jokingly ask if Dornan can still perform the pommel horse exercise he does in 50 Shades, we turn back to sports as metaphor for performing. “I think a lot of actors are frustrated sports people,” he says. “There are loads of parallels — the risk involved in doing a movie, exposing yourself like that, and the preparation to get yourself game ready.”

When he leaves New York, Dornan is going into a game-readiness preparation for his next project, something he cannot talk about. As he sees his calendar filling up for the foreseeable future, he identifies additional parallels between the athlete and the actor in him. As in sports, so much of an actor’s life, self, and identity is wrapped up in the action, he says, and the clock is always ticking.

“I think I am a bit wayward if I don’t know what I’m doing next,” he says. With a project, “you’ve just got something to build toward, don’t you? And it gives you a structure. And there’s so much about this job that I love — so much about the freedom and the unknown, the excitement of not knowing what’s next. I’ve just had eight months off, which is the longest I’ve ever had off in 20 years, and it’s been incredible. I’ve been doing every school run. Been on loads of holidays with the family. But I couldn’t tell you what continent I’m going to spend 2025 on. That’s fucked up!”

With a lot of award-season buzz around Irish actors and storytellers this year (including for his pals Cillian Murphy and Andrew Scott), Dornan talks about his pride in the rising tide that lifts all. “Something maybe we helped to start with Belfast,” he says. Not that he’s boasting. If anything, Dornan sounds profoundly clear-eyed about his life, work, and career trajectory.


Jamie Dornan

GIVENCHY jacket, $2,900, T-shirt, $590, pants, $1,700, and shoes, $725.


“A lot of actors say every job could be the last job,” he says. “And it could, of course, but I’m also aware that I’m on a decent run at the moment. The last three or four, five — 12 years, really — I’ve been in a good place. I’m doing a lot of good work. Is every one a runaway hit or critical success? No, but nobody has that. But I’ve been consistently employed, which is a great thing.”

He continues: “And I have a million things that I know are keeping me employed for the next couple of years. Then, who knows? Maybe someone pulls the rug and it’ll stop, but I’m aware that things are good and I take comfort in it. But then does that mean you can’t get excited? You get nominated for a Golden Globe and then suddenly — I’m a very competitive person — you’re like, ‘No, fuck this, maybe I do want to win an Academy Award.’ But if you’re driven by that, you’re fucked. I think I’ve always [thought of my acting career as] similar to when I was modeling. I see it as a job, and not put any more pressure on it other than it’s going well, I’m paying for the mortgage, I’m paying for the kids. And we’ve got a great life.”

In May, Dornan will turn a sage 42 and (much to my dismay) remains utterly unbothered by any sort of diet or workout routine — he just still looks that way. “Good genes, maybe?” he asks with a shrug and a smile. “Put it this way,” he says, “when I was the face and body of Calvin Klein underwear, I wouldn’t have been in the gym for months. In my 20s, I would say I didn’t go to the gym once. That worked for a long time, and it’s not like I am now suddenly going to deprive myself of carbs or something.”

Whatever he is doing is clearly working. And — unlike his character in The Tourist — Dornan has figured out who he is and what he likes. Mostly it’s making his three daughters laugh. “I love it,” he says. “I’m fucking silly as fuck with them. I can be really silly.”


GIORGIO ARMANI jacket, $2,595, T-shirt, $325, and pants, $1,495. VACHERON CONSTANTIN watch, $44,500.


Grooming by JOE MILLS.
Prop styling by LYNDON OGBOURNE/Lyndon Set Design.


JAMIE DORNAN wears BRUNELLO CUCINELLI jacket, sweater, and pants.


Feature image: LOEWE sweater, $1,950. Hat, stylist’s own.


This story originally appeared in the Spring Men’s Edition 2024 issue of C Magazine.

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