Dakota is in the New Vanity Fair Issue. Check the High Quality Pictures in the Gallery and watch the Videos below. Enjoy!
Daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, granddaughter of the chillest, most unattainable Hitchcock blonde of them all, Tippi Hedren, Dakota Johnson has pasted her own star into this Hollywood constellation. Early twinkles in Crazy in Alabama and The Social Network were the prelude to her breakout casting as the demure literary ingénue Anastasia Steele (yowza) in the screen adaptation of E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, the fiction sensation that got women worldwide thrumming. Following Fifty Shades of Grey is the forthcoming Fifty Shades Darker, and, if civilization prevails, Fifty Shades: The Wrath of Khan. It is outside the pallor and dolor of Fifty Shades that Johnson gets to strut a fuller stride, as Rebel Wilson’s avid sidekick in How to Be Single and as the sun-streaked temptress in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash. For her next daredevil mission, Johnson will be en pointe in Guadagnino’s remake of the horror cult classic Suspiria, as a ballerina who joins a mysterioso dance academy presided over by her sub-lunar co-star from A Bigger Splash, Tilda Swinton—it doesn’t get more ooga-booga than that.
More Promotional Pictures of Jamie and Dakota for Darker were released. Check the 13 High Quality Pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy!
Dakota in on Vogue Cover (February Issue). Read the Interview below. Check the 8 High Quality Pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy!
“I got you balloons!” Dakota Johnson shouts above a din of barking dogs, her hands cupped around her mouth in the shape of a heart.
As the iron gates of her mother’s Hollywood Hills house creep open, the auburn-haired actress is half-revealed on the stone steps beneath a dense tangle of helium-filled Mylar. She is wearing black Gucci boots and high-water vintage boys’ Levi’s in the ideal normcore wash. “Is this an appropriate outfit for meeting your landscape architect?” she asks, pulling on a crimson mohair sweater by The Elder Statesman (its designer, Greg Chait, is a pal). “Do I look like an adult who can convincingly use words like night-blooming?”
Of course she did not get me balloons. These are the detritus of the twenty-seventh-birthday party that her mother, Melanie Griffith, threw her a few nights before. The festivities culminated at Jumbo’s Clown Room, a strip club in Thai Town where Johnson watched what she describes as the saddest pole dance in the history of pole dances. We are now snaking through the hills in a soccer-mom SUV that has to suffice until the arrival of the forest-green 1995 Ford F150 that her grandfather has promised to send up from his house in Missouri. Our destination: the mid-century bungalow that Dakota, then living in downtown Manhattan, bought last winter in a clear concession to the fact that she was, is, and very likely will always be a creature of Hollywood. It was only the second house she saw, but she fell hard for its modernist pedigree; the architect Carl Maston built it for his own family in 1947.
“I used to spend hours and hours Googling mid-century houses,” she explains. “I get obsessed.” It is undergoing a renovation, and a thousand grown-up decisions must be faced. Has she settled on wood or poured concrete for the master bath? the contractor asks. “High-class problems, y’all,” she says, shaking her head. Outside, a cobweb-covered urinal that belonged to the TV producer Ryan Murphy, a previous owner, leans on a wall under an enormous jacaranda tree. “Get that thing out of here!” she declares, though her smile seems to ask, What if I were the kind of person who made demands? The landscaper suggests replacing the grass between the flagstones with thyme. Dakota calls for a wall of white blooms to conceal her skinny-dipping habit.
“You want a hedge that’s not overly manicured,” the landscaper says. “Restrained but wild.”
“Like me,” she replies.
And so it continues. He suggests a citrus grove. She suggests a cannabis farm. Before we go, Johnson points up toward the guest room with its wall of south-facing windows. “Let’s do Roman shades in there,” she says, “because I think it’s kind of pervy to only be able to see people’s legs.”
There is always, with Johnson, an air of naughtiness mingled with an air of surprised pleasure at her own naughtiness. Is it a public accommodation, almost reflexive at this point, to the three years of prurient attention that have accompanied her star turn opposite Jamie Dornan in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker—out this month—and the imminent Fifty Shades Freed? Or is that amused titillation—the taste for a sex joke, and really any joke—among the qualities that earned her the role of Anastasia Steele in the first place? It has now been exactly two years since Fifty Shades changed Johnson’s life, and although her bloodline is true-blue Hollywood—her father is Don Johnson, her stepfather is Antonio Banderas, her grandmother is Tippi Hedren—there is no gene for cakewalking alongside a $500 million cinematic juggernaut. She has heard it said that she despises Fifty Shades. Not so. “I’m truly proud of it,” she says. “It’s a cool story, and I think it’s different, and different is what I’m about.” She has read that Dornan and she can’t stand each other. She has read that they are having an affair. “We hate each other and we’re having an affair, so everybody’s right. How about that?”
We are now sitting at lunch at a restaurant in West Hollywood, in a room where a preponderance of the women sport lacquered lips and pronounced curves. Amid such overtness, Johnson’s cool-girl looks don’t register. And yet very likely most people here have seen her naked. A lot. “Nudity is really interesting for an actor,” she says. “Jamie and I worked so incredibly closely for so long. There were no inhibitions, and it was very honest, very trusting. But I mean, what a gamble! What if he had turned out to be a total dick? There’s no makeup. There are no clothes to tell you a bit about the story. There’s no jewelry to give you a clue about social status. So it becomes purely about the performance.” She sips her coffee and softens her voice, lest her cover get blown. “Will I stop doing nude scenes when my boobs start sagging? I don’t know. Maybe I have more of a European mind-set about these things. I don’t want to see someone wearing a bra and underwear in a sex scene. Let’s be honest about it. People are naked when they fuck.”
Despite all the on-screen exposure, in vivo Johnson has struggled with the idea of a public life. She is, perhaps, too jaded to enjoy the frisson of new fame, and too familiar with it from family life. “I’m terrible in crowds,” she says. “I was recently at the Gucci show in Milan because Alessandro [Michele, the brand’s designer] is a good friend, so I felt like I could just go, see what he was working on, and be like, I’m proud of you; call me later. But normally I’m sitting there thinking, I don’t belong here, I don’t know all these people, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I have a thing with the exposure, with the experience of the past two years. I think I went into this weird K-hole of feeling so scared of people. I noticed myself becoming shut off to strangers, even cold. That’s not my nature. I prefer to be tender.”
Tender is actually Johnson’s favorite word, and last fall her friend Dr. Woo, Los Angeles’s current status tattoo artist, etched it in fine, looping letters onto her forearm. Another tattoo by Woo in white ink reads LIGHTLY, MY DARLING, words plucked from a book by Aldous Huxley. (Not to be outshone, her mother recently had Woo tattoo the word HUSH onto her knuckles.) Famous people tend to squirm at the prospect of discussing their fame, but Johnson feels strongly that the accompanying crisis of tenderness must be overcome.
“No one wants to say that they want to be famous, nobody wants to sound like they like being famous, nobody wants to sound ungrateful, nobody wants to sound like they’re in denial,” she says. “It’s a scary word. What is the literal definition anyway?” She opens her phone and starts Googling. “‘Fame. From the Latin for rumor. The condition of being recognized.’ The condition! But then I’m like, am I even a famous person? Because I imagine that those are people who other people are constantly staring at, which isn’t me. Who gets photographed every day? Brad and Angelina? But they don’t, because I’m fairly certain that they’ve built underground tunnels everywhere, and that’s how they get around.”
Johnson, born in Texas and raised nowhere in particular, was primed for an unconventional life. Her parents were on location for long stretches of her childhood, and Dakota tagged along, nannies and tutors in tow. She cannot count the number of schools she attended, a few months here or there, or the number of childhood friendships that slipped away. She started therapy at age three. “The whole shebang,” she explains. “All the help you can get.” She had to contend with her parents’ divorce and their well-publicized struggles with drugs and alcohol. “I was so consistently unmoored and discombobulated. I didn’t have an anchor anywhere.” School was a challenge, and she hated to study. “I never learned how to learn the way you’re supposed to as a kid,” she says. “I thought, Why do I have to go to school on time? What’s the point when you’re living in Budapest for six months while your stepdad films Evita and you go to school in your hotel room? I was a disaster, and I thought for so long that there was something wrong with my brain. Now I realize that it just works in a different way.”
Film was always the best way to engage Johnson, and she escaped to a succession of celluloid obsessions, films she would watch over and over: Mary Poppins, Home Alone, Beetlejuice, and later all of Bernardo Bertolucci and John Cassavetes. She studied ballet until age sixteen but always imagined a career in acting. “I thought, This is just what my family does,” she says. “It’s like, my dad’s a lawyer, so I’m a lawyer. Except that it doesn’t usually work that way.”
Tippi Hedren allows for the possibility that it’s the genes. “I didn’t push Melanie into films, and she didn’t push Dakota. I think neither of us is the type to push,” Hedren tells me over the phone one afternoon, as a tigress named Mona stares at her through the window of her home on the Shambala Preserve, the California animal sanctuary she founded. “Dakota and I never discussed the negative aspects of the business. I’m not good at advice anyway. But I have told her that I think it’s important to do different things in life, to have a sense of balance. Marnie, my second film with Hitchcock, dealt with a topic that films didn’t discuss back then: the effects of childhood trauma. Fifty Shades of Grey is similar in that it’s addressing something in a mainstream film for the first time. Although I haven’t actually seen it. Isn’t that the strangest thing? I couldn’t tell you why.”
Johnson made some money modeling while in high school in Santa Monica, the first time she was in one place for a few consecutive years, and when she graduated she moved herself and her then boyfriend to an apartment in West Hollywood. She had applied to a single college, Juilliard, in New York, for which she rashly performed monologues by Shakespeare and Steve Martin. “Juilliard and I mutually agreed that it wouldn’t work out,” she recalls. Back in Los Angeles, she began auditioning, and a break came when she booked what turned out to be a memorable cameo as Sean Parker’s Stanford one-night stand in The Social Network.
In the spring of 2016, in the long wake of the first Fifty Shades installment, Johnson appeared in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, a stylish remake of the 1969 film La Piscine, in a role originated by Jane Birkin. To watch Johnson slowly peel an Adriatic fig as she stares at the men who stare at her is a somewhat discomfiting experience. The accrual and deployment of adolescent sexual power, in this case grossly misused, have been Johnson’s on-screen dominion. “I’ve been in a phase of my life where I’m fascinated by young women coming to terms with their sexuality,” she explains. “I guess, by proxy, I have been experiencing that in my own life, and it’s very interesting to me.”
Guadagnino possesses an auteur’s loyalty to his players, and it was during the filming of A Bigger Splash that he asked Johnson if she would take on the leading role in a remake of Suspiria, Dario Argento’s cult horror movie from 1977. The film tells the story of an American ballet student who enrolls in a German dance academy that turns out to be controlled by a coven of witches. Tilda Swinton, the star of A Bigger Splash, plays the academy director. “Dakota and I have a rolling foolishness between us,” she explains, “a kind of childish nonsense that was born the moment we met and means that we are always on the verge of not being able to get serious work done. Having to meet each other’s eye during a take is generally a pretty significant challenge for us.”
Suspiria, for which Johnson spent six months retraining herself in ballet, represents the first time she has been involved in a project since its inception. “It feels like we’re not making this for anyone but ourselves,” she says, “which is how I would like to feel all the time when I make films. I know that’s not going to happen, but the thing about Fifty Shades is that even if it’s commercial and mainstream, the subject matter isn’t. In that way I can do something mass but stay true to my weird interests.” One might accuse Johnson, who was last seen in the 2016 romantic comedy How to Be Single, of the shrewdness to turn herself simultaneously into an art-house fixture and a mainstream star. That balance is extremely attractive to her. “The stories I want to tell, the characters I want to play, don’t typically exist in huge, commercial box-office movies,” she says. “But this is a business.”
Johnson and I meet again a few weeks later, at the famous Glass House that Philip Johnson built in the Connecticut woods. Is it too predictable that she is struck in particular by the bed that Johnson shared with David Whitney, his partner of 45 years? “It’s the tiniest bed,” she says. “I love it. I mean, if you always want to cuddle the person you’re with, then you’re in a pretty good spot.” Johnson ended a relationship with Matthew Hitt, a model and the lead singer of the band the Drowners, last spring. “Shit happens,” she says. “I think I’m a little bit heartbroken all the time, even when I’m in a happy relationship. I don’t do casual very well, and my feelings, even the good ones, get so intense that they hurt.” For the present, Johnson is on her own. Enough said. “Can we make things really juicy? Can we say that I’m taking this time to explore my bisexuality? Or that I have given myself to the Lord following the release of my sexually explicit trifecta of films?”
Fifty Shades Darker is a bit more of a thriller than its predecessor, and the sex, now that Ana has allowed Christian back into her life on her own terms, is more impassioned, less clinical. “This woman is a badass,” Johnson says. “ She’s hyperintelligent and hypersexual and very tough and very loving, and her character has so many different aspects that don’t normally make sense in one person. I tried to amplify them all.” In the process of unpuzzling Ana’s complex sexual life, Johnson has developed a deep admiration for BDSM, which she feels is still vulnerable to ignorance and scorn. “First of all, there are some very chic avenues in BDSM,” she says. “It can be very beautiful and tasteful, and the materials can be luxurious. It’s not like being on Hollywood Boulevard and walking by a ball-gag store. But what I admire is the bravery and the honesty of people who get down with it, who aren’t afraid to say that they need something a bit more in order to get off. America is still so sexually oppressed. Isn’t God’s gift to humans the orgasm? Here’s a fun fact: A woman has the same number of nerve endings in her clitoris as a man does in his entire penis.”
Johnson spent most of the first half of 2016 in Vancouver shooting the two forthcoming installments, both directed by James Foley. He recalls her coming to set with a crumpled printout of The New York Times, which she would read during makeup. “She would talk about the stuff happening in Crimea and then, the minute I said ‘Action,’ do things with her character that I was never expecting, but with total authority and authenticity,” he explains. “She has a very sensitive bullshit meter, so if she does something that is the least bit unreal she just stops herself. She is just bizarrely instinctual about it all. She already knows enough to direct something. Easily.”
As it happens, Johnson would like to get behind the camera, and though she has her own production company as well as a writing partner, lately she is too busy to get anything off the ground. “I have a plethora of half-filled journals,” she says. Suspiria finishes shooting this winter, and then she moves on to The Sound of Metal, a love story written and directed by Darius Marder and costarring Matthias Schoenaerts. Johnson recruited her friend St. Vincent (ex-girlfriend of her friend Cara Delevingne) to create music for the film.
“I finally feel that I’m in the right place at the right time in my life, collaborating with artists who elevate me,” she says. “A few years ago, I was fighting, waiting for someone to give me a chance. I’m a pretty sensitive person, and when I don’t feel protected, I tend to close right up. But when I feel safe, I think I can do anything.”
I’ve added 3 Bigger (UHQ) Outtakes of Jamie for Times Magazine. Check the Pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy!
I’ve added 8 bigger Outtakes of Jamie and Dakota for Glamour Magazine. Check the Pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy!
Dakota Johnson poses with her mother and grandmother for Vanity Fair December issue. Check the High Quality Picture in the Gallery.
Jamie Dornan is on the Cover of L’UOMO Vogue (Vogue Italia) October Issue. Check the 24 High Quality Pictures in the Gallery.
Jamie Dornanis featured in the New Icon Magazine Issue. Check the 12 High Quality Pictures in the Gallery.
Jamie is on the Cover of the Magazine El Pais Icon (Spain) for the October Issue. Check the Picture in the Gallery.
— Fifty Shades Darker (@FiftyShadesEN) 25 septembre 2016
We got more Infos about this Picture taken by Sante D’Orazio. • It's a Picture from a Photoshoot bought by Universal and it's them who will release the Pics laters. • They did several shoots for Darker and for Freed as well and we'll get more Outtakes when it's time. • They were looking at the Pics on Sante computer to review them and he took a shoot of the screen an posted on IG. #FiftyShadesDarker #FiftyShades #JamieDornan #DakotaJohnson #ChristianGrey #AnastasiaSteele
You can read below the New Interview of Jamie for The Times. You can find 4 High Quality Pictures in the Gallery.
Jamie Dornan 34-year-old model turned movie star, sado-masochist in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, serial killer in BBC Two hit The Fall, former boyfriend of Keira Knightley – greets me by pulling me into a manly, friendly, bear hug (because that’s the kind of bloke he is), to which I respond with an attempt at an air kiss (because that’s the kind of woman I am), only the configuration of his shoulder and my face means I end up burying my lips in his right clavicle and kissing him tenderly on the neck, which is embarrassing.
This is not quite the first time we’ve met – that was seven years ago, when Dornan was part of an article I was writing about fitness magazine Men’s Health. He was supposed to be discussing his workout regime with the magazine’s editor, only, “I wasn’t in very good shape. And they gave me these really massive shorts that I would not wear … Not that I wear tiny shorts … And then they’re like, ‘Tell us your workout regime!’ And I was thinking, ‘I’m not doing one!’ I had to make it up. ‘I start every day with 100 push-ups.’ Can you think of anything worse than waking up and doing 100 push-ups? There’s no one in the world who does that. Well, there probably is … Actually, I’ll do it, if I’m bored and I’ve got time on my hands. I did it yesterday.”
So Dornan and I have already met – however, we are most certainly not on neck-kissing terms. He’s a married father of two and a movie star; it seems unlikely we will ever be on neck-kissing terms. Which is a shame, because (you may have noticed) he is incredibly good-looking. Dictionary definition of a very handsome man. I enjoy watching Dornan pose on set for the photoshoot before he comes to say hello. I watch him narrow his eyes and brood down the camera lens, which is especially mesmerising.
I bring up the subject of his looks during our interview.
“Oh God,” he says, flaps a bit, goes quiet. He’s been garrulous, honest and open to this point; sweary, unprecious, unguarded, funny. He’s Northern Irish and grew up in middle-class Belfast; he has thus far talked on a wide range of subjects, things I hadn’t even asked him to discuss, things that have little to do with the business of the day, which is promoting his new film, Anthropoid. Dornan is a chatterer. He’s been magnificently rude about the pretensions of some other thespians. “I hate when actors talk about leaving behind some f***ing legacy of work: ‘Well, I’ll always have my f***ing Hamlet in Stratford.’ Shut up, shut up! Twats.” He has talked about celebrity and how he finds it easy to avoid: “Unless you’re f***ing a Kardashian. I don’t mean you’re f***ing a Kardashian, I mean unless you are a Kardashian or maybe if you’re f***ing some type of Kardashian, then you’re probably the sort of person who is enabling attention and maybe seeking it … I guess if Millie [Dornan’s wife, Amelia Warner] and I started going to – excuse me, I couldn’t even name one nightclub in London any more …”
And he has talked about his introduction to acting. “The only prize I ever won at school was at 11 – I won the drama prize playing Widow Twankey in Aladdin. I’m happy that it was before people filmed everything, because then that would exist and … Saying that, I won the drama prize. I must have been decent.”
But then I ask him what it’s like to be a pin-up, and he grinds to a halt, stops meeting my eye, tries to duck the question.
“I’ve never seen me ‘pinned up’ anywhere,” he says, evasively and completely inaccurately.
There were shirtless shots of you on every bus stop in town, when the first Fifty Shades film was first released, I point out.
“Oh, oh, oh …” he blusters. He really isn’t posturing. Dornan is appalled by the conversational turn. There’s no hint of vanity in him. We’re sitting in a restaurant, the walls of which are covered in mirrors; he doesn’t cast even the most cursory glance at his own reflection at any point during our hour-long interview. This would be faintly miraculous in a normal person, but in an actor? I’ve had Hollywood heart-throbs openly stare at themselves throughout interviews.
“I’m going to fight that. I’m going to fight that,” Dornan continues, uselessly.
You can’t. It’s true. You are good-looking, I say. That’s why you became a successful model – contracted to Calvin Klein, to Dior. It’s why People magazine put you third on its Sexiest Man Alive 2014 list. And it is, let’s be honest, a factor in your being cast as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, a role that requires you to be naked and take part in sex scenes.
“If people think that, well, that’s people’s response to me, the way I look, that’s fine. But it’s one of those things that, if you let that colour how you approach your everyday life, then you’ve got something to worry about. If you embrace the fact that people view you like that, you are absolutely f***ed.”
Perhaps the miracle of Dornan’s looks is that they haven’t especially dictated the shape of his acting career. He could have been doomed to serial rom-com leads, yet in the ten years since he got his break – as Count Axel Fersen in Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film, Marie Antoinette (“First audition I did and I got it! I thought, wow, this is easier than I thought … Then I realised after eight years of unemployment that it was a fluke”) – he’s played a mixed bag of characters. Fifty Shades’ sado-masochist and a literal serial lady-killer in The Fall; and now Jan Kubis, an exiled Czechoslovakian parachuted back into his occupied homeland during the Second World War, charged with the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, in director Sean Ellis’s Anthropoid. On top of that comes a Netflix film, The Siege of Jadotville, in which he plays an Irish commander fighting mercenaries employed by mining companies in the Congo in 1961. He is a psychologist in the thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax, and will be back on our screens in a new series of The Fall this autumn.
Anthropoid, based on a true story, is a dark, period piece. He stars alongside Cillian Murphy (“If you’re an actor coming out of Ireland and you’re a man of my age, you can feel really influenced by what Cillian’s done”) and delivers a truly decent performance with an entirely credible Czech accent. Though it is undoubtedly offensive to express any surprise over this – for such a handsome man, Jamie Dornan is also a good actor.
Jan Kubis is a “flappable puppy”, Dornan says. “This guy is vulnerable … And I liked that, because I haven’t really portrayed anyone vulnerable.” One could argue that his part in Anthropoid stands in direct creative opposition to, say, his role in the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, the money-spinning, critically derided adaptation of EL James’s S&M shagfest (of which, Dornan has just finished filming parts two and three).
Was he perhaps trying to adjust the balance somewhat with Anthropoid? He says absolutely not. He doesn’t give a damn about the intellectual snobbishness that Fifty Shades is subject to. “My family are doctors. My dad’s a doctor, my mum was a nurse, my stepmother’s a doctor, my uncle’s a doctor – they do jobs that really matter. I think that thing of actors taking to their grave that they never did a ‘studio film’, they didn’t ‘sell out’ … Shut up!”
So there’s really no game plan here?
“I guess there is an unconscious thing of playing a couple of dark characters in a row, then you’ve got your eye on something a bit lighter …”
Anthropoid is not light, I point out. You perhaps need to voice a cartoon fish next?
“Oh, I’d love to do that. Because I have kids now [two daughters, Dulcie, two and a half, and Phoebe, six months] and …”
The Fall and Fifty Shades aren’t great viewing for children? “No. I’d love them to be able to watch some of Daddy’s work.”
Dornan didn’t plan to be an actor. “I wasn’t one of those kids.” What did he want to be? A model? “No!”
He loved sport – he comes from a sporty family, played a lot of rugby. “Although I struggle to admit it, the reality was: I was not good enough to play [professionally].”
What would he have played professionally, in an ideal world?
“I’m not saying. Because if I start this, I get ripped by my mates.”
He liked acting from the Widow Twankey moment onwards. “I loved drama at school. I became a different person.”
So you could ditch the machismo?
“Exactly. School’s so cliquey and you’re always trying to maintain some kind of front, that you’re this person. I played a lot of sports, I played rugby, but I was always a little bit smaller, always having to fight against that, and all the rugby boys – who are still very brilliant mates today – I would have always felt very like, I’m trying to be this guy … But there was a part of me that actually wanted to dress up and pretend to be other people. I got to do that in drama. None of the rugby boys were in my drama class, funnily enough.”
He insists it was never about seeking approval, or applause, or attention. “I still consider myself not someone that likes attention.” Really? “No! I think, if you’re somebody who gets off on attention, then that’s veering into arrogance, which is the trait I deplore most in human beings.”
I wonder if drama had also offered Dornan some escape from grief. His mother died of cancer when he was 16; a year later, four friends were killed in a car crash. His life must have felt like it was consumed by death for a while. He pulls back, just slightly, when I mention his mother dying. “I was doing well and really loving drama before that,” he says. Then: “It was horrific, horrific.”
How did you get through it?
“I’m not sure you’re ever through it.”
He had a couple of ropey years after the deaths, a couple of aimless drunken summers. “I remember a summer when I was 19 and I’d left university, the University of Teesside, where I did one year of a marketing degree. And I came out having failed every exam I took going, ‘Jesus. OK, right, something needs to change here.’ So I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I drank a lot that summer, mostly with my friend Lee. Either I’d stay at his, or he’d stay at mine, and his family had a bar at their house, which is just so dangerous.”
What were you drinking? “Tennent’s, which wouldn’t be my top beer, but they had a lot of it, so fine. And gin and tonics – I come from a very gin and tonic-y family. We ate a lot of burgers; there was a drive-through Burger King near Lee’s house. My dad came home one day, and he’d been on at me about doing something: ‘Will you just do something? Will you come home when you’ve achieved something?’ And I’d been like, OK … So one day, we’d played some tennis and I’d broken a string, and I’d spent the rest of the day very slowly, very deliberately de-stringing the racket with some pliers. When Dad came home, he was like, ‘So what did you do?’ I was just sitting there, with a racket with no strings.”
Do you think you might have been depressed? “Ha! Looking back on it now, I think yes.”
One of his two older sisters, Liesa, told him he should go to London and try modelling; he thought she was being ridiculous, but had absolutely no other ideas. “The summer of 2002, I’d just turned 20, and I felt I had to do something, so I had sort of applied to this show called Model Behaviour” – a reality TV show formatted as a model search – “and I got through the Belfast bit, then you get to London. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God! We’re staying in the Hilton in Paddington!’ ”
He didn’t win, but his modelling career took off. “I moved to London and I got a job at a pub in Knightsbridge called Tattersalls Tavern, which is still there, and I worked there full-time for four months and then had to go part-time because I was starting to get decent work, and then modelling was sort of really happening, but, ‘really happening’, I mean, you say that, it took up so little of my time. I was lucky – I was contracted to Dior exclusively for three years, and Calvin Klein on and off for seven years, so although it looks like you’re doing all this work, and there are constantly images coming out, you’re actually only flying off to Hawaii or New York or LA for a few days to shoot all these pictures, and then you’ve almost got the rest of the year off. For me it was kind of a ridiculous path [which could lead] to alcoholism.”
Did he like modelling?
“No. I liked meeting people. I had good friends. Not models, God forbid.”
There were high points. Standing in the middle of Manhattan “and there’s a massive billboard space that Calvin Klein owns on Houston. And the first Calvin Klein campaign I did was in 2003, with Natalia Vodianova, for Calvin Klein jeans, on a beach in Hawaii. And the massive image that they used in the major campaign, spread across this big double billboard, was Natalia pulling down my jeans and my underwear and basically biting my arse. I was crossing the road, and then it was there! It was the first time I’d seen it. And there was a woman beside me, appalled, standing with her friend discussing how horrific it was, and I was just sort of going like …”
He turns towards the imaginary women and waves.
Did you really? “No. I daren’t. She’d have slapped me.”
Dornan then made the move from modelling to acting. “I was hanging out with actors, I was dating an actress [Keira Knightley], so I got an agent, just to have one, but that’s so gross.”
Dornan got that very first part he auditioned for, in 2006’s Marie Antoinette; from then, things happened in fits and spurts. The Fall in 2013 marked a major leap forward; his casting in 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey made him movie star-grade famous.
He considers acting a preposterous thing to do for a living, mind you. “Five per cent of all actors are employed at any time. Five per cent! What lunatic would want to do that? I’m just happy to be employed, with those statistics.”
I go back to the subject of how good-looking Dornan is, because I can’t leave it alone, and because he’s sitting directly in front of me, so his handsomeness is pretty inescapable. I get the impression he might – just – intellectually understand himself to be a good-looking man, but that he has never assimilated that information. He says no one fancied him at school. “Not at all! I had so little confidence. I was small and had two older sisters: all their mates just thought I was very cute, and I hated that word so much … I wanted them to see me as a man, and they were like, ‘Is he ever going to get pubic hair?’ Well, I’ve got a beard now. I must have pubes.”
He insists he never did terribly well with women, even as he became a successful model. How is that possible?
“I’m a terrible approacher of women. When I was single, I was dreadful at it. I wouldn’t do it; I would just hope that someone would like me, and come to me. I’ve got mates who just do that, don’t think anything of it. I remember being out in my late twenties, and mates of mine would just be like, ‘Oh, look, she’s fit,’ and they’d go up and start talking to girls. I was like, ‘What are you saying to her? Why is she responding so well?’ ”
Right, but you had a two-year relationship with Keira Knightley, I point out.
“We were put together. We did a [modelling] campaign. Standing awkwardly in photographs together, you get talking.”
Was that how Dornan met his wife? He has been married for three years to actress and composer Amelia Warner. “No, we met at a party in LA. I had a big crush on my wife before I met her. I really fancied her. I’d done a lot of googling of her, to the point that I knew she was going to be in this house. I had a few people who knew I had a crush on her at the party; as soon as I arrived, I was presented to her on a platter, and that makes it easier.”
And now you’re married, so you’ll never have to approach another woman again!
“That’s such a relief, I can’t tell you! Such a relief, never having to chat up any potential woman again. My life is brilliant!”
Warner hasn’t seen Fifty Shades – “Why would she? Why would you do that to yourself?” – and his daughters don’t yet know what it is he does. “I’ve been thinking about how to explain what Daddy does for a living and how absurd and ridiculous it is.”
I’d wanted to ask Dornan about how badly he is rumoured to get along with Fifty Shades co-star Dakota Johnson. Industry chatter about the disdain the actors felt for each other abounded at the time of the first film’s release in 2015, and one journalist described a press conference featuring both actors as having “the excruciating air of a court-ordered couples therapy session”. But Dornan cuts me off at the pass, insisting, “Dakota and I know each other very well now. We’re great friends,” which, he adds, is good because they can “laugh at the absurdity of [the sex scenes]”.
Then, for reasons no one ever fully explains to me, the actor Nick Frost appears in my eyeline, and gives me the five-minutes-to-wind-up hand signal. Dornan sees him, too, and gets the giggles – clearly, they know each other. I obey and end the interview.
I say goodbye, realising that my defining impression of Jamie Dornan as an incredibly handsome man has at some point been overtaken by a defining impression of Jamie Dornan as an incredibly nice man. He hugs me and I end up accidentally kissing him on the neck all over again.
New Portraits of Jamie for Anthropoid were released. You can find 7 High Quality Pictures in the Gallery.